- Psoriasis Slideshow: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
- Psoriasis Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
- Moderate to Severe Forms of Psoriasis Slideshow
- What is prednisolone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for prednisolone?
- Is prednisolone available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for prednisolone?
- What are the side effects of prednisolone?
- What is the dosage for prednisolone?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with prednisolone?
- What else should I know about prednisolone?
What is prednisolone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Prednisolone is a synthetic adrenal corticosteroid (cortisone). Corticosteroids are natural substances produced by the adrenal glands located adjacent to the kidneys. Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory properties, and are used in a wide variety of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, colitis, asthma, bronchitis, certain skin rashes, and allergic or inflammatory conditions of the nose and eyes. There are numerous preparations of corticosteroids including tablets, capsules, liquids, topical creams and gels, inhalers, eye drops, as well as injectable and intravenous solutions. The FDA approved prednisolone in June 1955.
What brand names are available for prednisolone?
Flo-Pred, Pediapred, Orapred, Orapred ODT
Is prednisolone available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for prednisolone?
What are the side effects of prednisolone?
Prednisolone side effects depend on the dose, the duration and the frequency of administration. Short courses of prednisolone - days to a week or two - are usually well tolerated with few and mild side effects. Long-term, high doses of prednisolone will usually produce predictable and potentially serious side effects. Whenever possible, the lowest effective doses of prednisolone should be used for the shortest length of time to minimize side effects. Alternate day dosing can also help reduce side effects.
Side effects of prednisolone and other corticosteroids range from mild annoyances to serious irreversible damage. Side effects include
- fluid retention,
- weight gain,
- high blood pressure,
- potassium loss,
- muscle weakness,
- puffiness of and hair growth on the face,
- thinning and easy bruising of the skin,
- peptic ulceration,
- worsening of diabetes,
- irregular menses,
- growth retardation in children,
- convulsions, and
- psychic disturbances. (Psychic disturbances can include depression, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and even psychotic behavior.)
Prolonged use of prednisolone can depress the ability of body's adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. Abruptly stopping prednisolone can cause symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, with accompanying nausea/a>, vomiting, and even shock. Therefore, withdrawal of prednisolone is usually accomplished by gradual tapering. Gradually tapering prednisolone not only minimizes the symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, but it also reduces the risk of an abrupt flare of the disease under treatment.
Prednisolone and other corticosteroids can mask signs of infection and impair the body's natural immune response to infection. Patients on corticosteroids are more susceptible to infections and can develop more serious infections than healthy individuals. For instance, chickenpox and measles viruses can produce serious and even fatal illnesses in patients on high doses of prednisolone. Live virus vaccines, such as smallpox vaccine, should be avoided in patients taking high doses of prednisolone, since even vaccine viruses may cause disease in patients taking prednisolone. Some infectious organisms, such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, can remain dormant in a patient for years. Prednisolone and other corticosteroids can reactivate dormant infections in these patients and cause serious illnesses. Patients with dormant TB may require anti-TB medications while undergoing prolonged corticosteroid treatment.
By interfering with the patient's immune response, prednisolone can impede the effectiveness of vaccinations. Prednisolone can also interfere with the tuberculin skin test and cause false negative results in patients with tuberculosis infection.
Prednisolone impairs calcium absorption and new bone formation. Patients on prolonged treatment with prednisolone and other corticosteroids can develop thinning of bone (osteoporosis) and an increased risk of bone fractures. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D are encouraged to slow this process of bone thinning. In some patients, medications used to treat osteoporosis may be prescribed. In rare individuals, destruction of large joints (osteonecrosis) can occur while undergoing treatment with prednisolone or other corticosteroids. These patients experience severe pain in the involved joints, and can require replacement of joints. The reason behind such destruction is not clear.
Quick GuidePsoriasis Types, Images, Treatments
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.