prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos) Corticosteroid

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is prednisone, and how does it work?

Prednisone is an oral, synthetic (man-made) corticosteroid (steroid) used for suppressing the immune system and inflammation. It has effects similar to other corticosteroids such as:

These synthetic corticosteroids mimic the action of cortisol (hydrocortisone), the naturally-occurring corticosteroid produced in the body by the adrenal glands. Corticosteroids have many effects on the body, but they most often are used for their potent anti-inflammatory effects, particularly in those diseases and conditions in which the immune system plays an important role, for example, arthritis, colitis, asthma, bronchitis, skin problems, and allergies. Prednisone is inactive in the body and, in order to be effective, first must be converted to prednisolone by enzymes in the liver. Therefore, prednisone may not work as effectively in people with liver disease whose ability to convert prednisone to prednisolone is impaired. The FDA approved prednisone in 1955.

What diseases and conditions does prednisone treat (uses)?

Prednisone is used in the management of inflammatory conditions or diseases in which the immune system plays an important role. Since this drug is used for the treatment and management of so many diseases and conditions, only the most common or FDA approved uses are listed.

It also is used the treatment of:

Corticosteroids, including prednisone, are commonly used to suppress the immune system and prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs.

Prednisone is used as replacement therapy in patients whose adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient amounts of cortisol.

What is the dosage for prednisone, and how should it be taken?

The initial dosage of prednisone varies depending on the condition being treated and the age of the patient.

  • It's recommended that you take this medication with food.
  • The starting dose may be from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, and often is adjusted based on the response of the disease or condition being treated.
  • Corticosteroids typically do not produce immediate effects and must be used for several days before maximal effects are seen. It may take much longer before conditions respond to treatment.
  • When prednisone is discontinued after a period of prolonged therapy, the dose of prednisone must be tapered (lowered gradually) to allow the adrenal glands time to recover.

How should prednisone be tapered, and what are the withdrawal symptoms and signs?

Patients should be slowly weaned off prednisone. Abrupt withdrawal of prednisone after prolonged use causes side effects because the adrenal glands are unable to produce enough cortisol to compensate for the withdrawal, and symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency (adrenal crisis) may occur. These symptoms include:

Therefore, weaning off prednisone should occur gradually so that the adrenal glands have time to recover and resume production of cortisol. Until the glands fully recover, it may be necessary to treat patients who have recently discontinued corticosteroids with a short course of corticosteroids during times of stress (infection, surgery, etc.), times when corticosteroids are particularly important to the body.

Is this drug available in generic form?

Yes, prednisone is available in generic form.

Do I need a prescription for this drug?

Yes, you need a prescription from your doctor or other medical professional to obtain this medication.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/28/2016

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