PRESCRIBED FOR: Prednisone is used in the management of inflammatory conditions or diseases in which the immune system plays an important role. Since prednisone is used in so many conditions, only the most common or established uses are mentioned here. Prednisone most often is used for treating several types of arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, systemic lupus, allergic reactions, asthma and severe psoriasis. It also is used for treating leukemias, lymphomas, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. 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.
DOSING: The initial dose of prednisone varies depending on the condition being treated and the age of the patient. The starting dose may be from 5 to 60 mg per day and often is adjusted based on the response of the 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. Prolonged therapy with prednisone causes the adrenal glands to atrophy and stop producing cortisol. 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. (See side effects.) It is recommended that prednisone be taken with food.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Prednisone may interact with estrogens and phenytoin (Dilantin). Estrogens may reduce the action of enzymes in the liver that break down (eliminate) the active form of prednisone, prednisolone. As a result, the levels of prednisolone in the body may increase and lead to more frequent side effects. Phenytoin increases the activity of enzymes in the liver that break down (eliminate) prednisone and thereby may reduce the effectiveness of prednisone. Thus, if phenytoin is being taken, an increased dose of prednisone may be required.
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