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General overview

Prednisone is a corticosteroid which works on the immune system of the body to relieve swelling, itching, redness and allergic reactions.

This medication is therefore used in many conditions where inflammations occurs. These can include the following:

  • Arthritis.
  • Asthma.
  • Certain skin conditions.
  • Eye problems.
  • Blood or bone marrow issues.
  • Stomach or bowel pathology.
  • Adrenal issues.
  • Renal problems.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Multiple sclerosis flare-ups.

Precautions when using prednisone

Sometimes prednisone is prescribed for short-term use and therefore side-effects aren't really an issue here. For long-term use of prednisone though, as is the case in the conditions mentioned above, certain precautions need to be taken. 
  • Regular follow-ups with the prescribing doctor are very important so as to make sure that there aren't any unwanted effects that go unnoticed.  
  • Prednisone can lower the immune system's ability to protect the body against infections. It's very important to see your doctor if you start experiencing symptoms of infection such as chills, fever, burning urine, sore throat or have a productive cough. It's important then to try and avoid contact with people who have active infections and to wash one's hands regularly.
  • Adrenal gland and glucose regulation issues can also arise so if you experience symptoms such as blurred vision, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, increased thirst or urination and increased fatigue then you also need to consult with your doctor.
  • Patients should also take note of any other visual disturbances such as eye pain as well.
  • Patients must try and avoid having immunizations taken without consulting with their doctor first. Vaccines may not work as well as they should if one's immune system isn't functional adequately.
  • Long-term prednisone use can also result in mood changes and can cause feelings of depression. Insomnia is also a possible result of this and one should take note of consulting their doctor if it does affect one's quality of life.
  • Prednisone can also cause decreased bone growth and should be carefully used in children and the elderly. Elderly patients should have regular bone density scans done to make sure that the medication isn't increasing their risk for osteoporosis.
  • This medication can increase the production of acid in the stomach which does increase the risk of ulcers, and can possibly even result in bleeding of these ulcers. If patients are experiencing passage of black or tar-like stool, then they need to seek immediate medical attention.

Side-effects

The main points regarding major issues have been noted above. Here, we'll mention some side-effects which aren't life-threatening but are also important to take note of.

  • Increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Can cause unexplained weight loss.
  • Full or round face, neck or trunk.
  • Fat deposits on the back of the neck.
  • Heartburn.
  • Indigestion.
  • Coughing or a hoarse voice.
  • Abdominal or stomach pains.
  • Aggression.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Headaches.
  • Nervousness.
  • Swelling of the extremities. 
  • Red discolouration and thinning of the skin.

If any of these issues do hamper the patient's quality of life, then they should discuss them with their doctor for possible solutions to the problems. 

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