- What Is It?
- Side Effects
- Serious Side Effects
- Other Side Effects
What is prednisone, and how does it work?
Prednisone is a drug that belongs to the corticosteroid drug class, and is an anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressant. It's used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, for example: inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, asthma, cancers, and several types of arthritis.
Common side effects are weight gain, headache, fluid retention, and muscle weakness. Other effects and adverse events include glaucoma, cataracts, obesity, facial hair growth, moon face, and growth retardation in children. This medicine also causes psychiatric problems, for example: depression, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and psychotic behavior. Serious side effects include reactions to diabetes drugs, infections, and necrosis of the hips and joints.
Prednisone is available as tablets of 1, 2.5, 10, 20, and 50 mg; extended release tablets of 1, 2, and 5mg; and oral solution of 5mg/5ml.
You should not stop taking prednisone abruptly because it can cause withdrawal symptoms and adrenal failure. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional if you have questions about prednisone.
If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
What are the side effects and adverse effects of prednisone?
Side effects of prednisone and other corticosteroids range from mild annoyances to serious, irreversible organ damage, and they occur more frequently with higher doses and more prolonged treatment.
Common side effects include:
What are the serious side effects of prednisone?
- Puffiness of the face (moon face)
- Growth of facial hair
- Thinning and easy bruising of the skin
- Impaired wound healing
- Ulcers in the stomach and duodenum
- Worsening of diabetes
- Irregular menses
- Rounding of the upper back ("buffalo hump")
- Retardation of growth in children
- Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions like hives, itching, skin rash, swollen lips/tongue/face)
- Vision changes
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary edema
- Allergic dermatitis
- Low blood pressure
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation)
- Newly onset diabetes
This drug also causes psychiatric disturbances, which include:
What are other possible serious side effects and adverse events?
Possible serious side effects of prednisone include the following:
- Prednisone and diabetes: Prednisone is associated with new onset or manifestations of latent diabetes, and worsening of diabetes. Diabetics may require higher doses of diabetes medications while taking prednisone.
- Allergic reaction: Some people may develop a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to prednisone that includes swelling of the airways (angioedema) that may result in shortness of breath or airway blockage.
- Immune suppression: Prednisone suppresses the immune system and, therefore, increases the frequency or severity of infections and decreases the effectiveness of vaccines and antibiotics.
- Osteoporosis: Prednisone may cause osteoporosis that results in fractures of bones. Patients taking long-term prednisone often receive supplements of calcium and vitamin D to counteract the effects on bones. Calcium and vitamin D probably are not enough, however, and treatment with bisphosphonates such as alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel) may be necessary. Calcitonin (Miacalcin) also is effective. The development of osteoporosis and the need for treatment can be monitored using bone density scans.
- Adrenal insufficiency and weaning off prednisone: Prolonged use of prednisone and other corticosteroids causes the adrenal glands to atrophy (shrink) and stop producing the body's natural corticosteroid, cortisol.
- Necrosis of hips and joints: A serious complication of long-term use of corticosteroids is aseptic necrosis of the hip joints. Aseptic necrosis is a condition in which there is death and degeneration of the hip bone. It is a painful condition that ultimately can lead to the need for surgical replacement of the hip. Aseptic necrosis also has been reported in the knee joints. The estimated incidence of aseptic necrosis among long-term users of corticosteroids is 3%-4%. Patients taking corticosteroids who develop pain in the hips or knees should report the pain to their doctors promptly.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Other consumer prednisone side effects
Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, heartburn, trouble sleeping, increased sweating, or acne may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur:
- muscle pain/cramps,
- irregular heartbeat,
- swelling hands/ankles/feet,
- unusual weight gain,
- signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat),
- vision problems (such as blurred vision),
- vomit that looks like coffee grounds,
- black/bloody stools,
- severe stomach/abdominal pain,
- mental/mood changes (such as depression, mood swings, agitation),
- slow wound healing,
- thinning skin,
- bone pain,
- menstrual period changes,
- puffy face,
- easy bruising/bleeding.
This medication may infrequently make your blood sugar level rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of high blood sugar, such as increased thirst and urination. If you already have diabetes, be sure to check your blood sugars regularly. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the U.S. — call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. In Canada — call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Read the entire consumer prednisone drug information >>
Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressant drug that belongs to the corticosteroid drug class. Prednisone is used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions of the skin, gut, lungs, endocrine system, eyes, and blood. Examples include inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, asthma, cancers, and several types of arthritis. Review side effects and adverse events before using this medication.
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Learn the differences between rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis below.
Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a condition that usually affects young or middle-aged adults, is an inflammation of the arteries supplying blood to the sinuses, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms of granulomatosis with polyangiitis include bloody sputum, fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, sinusitis, shortness of breath, and fever. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis may be fatal within months without treatment. Treatment aims to stop inflammation with high doses of prednisone and cyclophosphamide.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six types of JRA. Treatment of juvenile arthritis depends upon the type the child has and should focus on treating the symptoms that manifest.
What Does Psoriatic Arthritis Joint Pain Feel Like?
Psoriatic arthritis may lead to various degrees of inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints, especially on one side of the body. Pain caused in the joints can be debilitating and reduce mobility.
How Serious Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the joints and other body parts. If not diagnosed early and appropriately treated, RA can lead to permanent deformities, disabilities, and serious systemic complications.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is not life-threatening, but it can reduce a patient’s life expectancy by three years. Here is how to properly manage the disease.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the Fingers
The earliest signs of arthritis are pain, swelling and stiffness. If these symptoms are experienced in the fingers, it is likely because of rheumatoid arthritis. The signs and symptoms of arthritis in the fingers include popping sounds, joint deformity, warmth, mucus cysts and bone spurs.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the Feet
There are more than 30 joints in the ankle and feet. Arthritis can affect one or multiple joints in the feet. Excess weight, hereditary tendencies, old injuries, and poor footwear are a few predisposing factors of arthritis.
Is Crohn's Disease Related to Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Since Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the body, including the joints, sufferers are at a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Safest Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs During Pregnancy
None of the drugs used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is completely safe during pregnancy. You must discuss with your physician regarding the decision to use, modify, or stop any medications.
Will Psoriatic Arthritis Cripple Me?
Psoriatic arthritis is a long-standing inflammatory disorder that affects three out of every 10 people with psoriasis. It cannot be cured, but some treatments may prevent it from worsening. There is no way to predict whose psoriatic arthritis may destroy their joints.
What Is the Difference Between Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is a broad term that refers to the inflammation of the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and osteoarthritis is the most common type.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are chronic joint disorders. RA is also an autoimmune disease. OA and RA symptoms and signs include joint pain, warmth, and tenderness. Over-the-counter pain relievers treat both diseases. There are several prescription medications that treat RA.
Breastfeeding With Rheumatoid Arthritis
You can breastfeed your baby even if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, you must always consult your doctor before you start the process.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Septic Arthritis in Kids?
Septic arthritis can be caused by bacterial, fungal or viral infections. Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria, is the most common cause of septic arthritis in infants. Septic arthritis is a general term for any joint pain caused by infection of the joint.
How Do You Stop Arthritis From Progressing in Your Hands?
Learn these simple tips and tricks to help stop the progression of arthritis in your hands.
Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Caused by Sugar?
Despite insufficient evidence, studies have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may experience worsening symptoms with sugary foods.
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis Hands
Two of the most frequent types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How Can You Live With Arthritis in Your Back?
Arthritis in the back can be extremely painful and in some cases debilitating. However, effective ways to manage and live with the condition.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the Knee
Arthritis refers to the redness and swelling of the joints. It usually develops slowly over 10 to 15 years, interfering with daily life activities. Knowing the early signs of arthritis can help you take appropriate treatment and incorporate modifications in your diet and lifestyle.
What Are the Five Types of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Understanding the five types of psoriatic arthritis can help you identify the first signs and symptoms, which can then lead to a proper diagnosis and treatment from your doctor.
Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds
If you have a COPD such as emphysema, avoiding chronic bronchitis and colds is important to avoid a more severe respiratory infection such as pneumonia. Avoiding cigarette smoking, practice good hygeine, stay away from crowds, and alerting your healthcare provider if you have a sinus infection or cold or cough that becomes worse. Treatment options depend upon the severity of the emphysema, bronchitis, or cold combination.
Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Run in Families?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that tends to run in families. Your likelihood of getting RA, however, is not determined by family history of the disease alone. It is also influenced by environmental factors such as age, obesity and smoking.
Early Signs of Arthritis in Shoulder
Early signs and symptoms of arthritis in the shoulder include pain in the shoulder joint that's worse when lifting heavy objects, pain that radiates down the arm and shoulder joint sounds like grinding, clicking, and crackling.
How Do I Know if My Knee Pain Is Arthritis?
If you have knee pain from arthritis you might notice symptoms including stiffness and swelling, increased pain and swelling in the morning or after sitting, increased pain after activity, 'locking' or 'sticking' of the knee, and weakness or buckling in the knee.
Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Heart Failure?
Rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of various cardiovascular diseases including heart failure and pericarditis. Heart failure is one of the common causes of increased mortality in people with RA.
Non-Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA)
Non-radiographic spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) is an inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the joints of the spine. Morning stiffness and back pain are the usual symptoms of nr-axSpA. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, and biologics are treatments for nr-axSpA.
How Do I Know If It's Carpal Tunnel or Arthritis?
Carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis have different etiologies; thus, they manifest differently in the hand. Your doctor may subject you to physical examination, radiological tests, and neurological evaluation to diagnose.
Does JIA Arthritis Go Away?
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is either a short-term or chronic condition. There is no cure for JIA and treatment aims to improve symptoms and achieve remission.
Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the common complications of rheumatoid arthritis. Learn the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Diagnosed?
Psoriatic arthritis is a painful joint condition associated with psoriasis that is diagnosed through imaging and blood tests when accompanying symptoms are present.
What Is The First Line Treatment For Psoriatic Arthritis
The treatment of psoriatic arthritis aims at controlling the inflammation of the joint. The first-line therapy differs in psoriatic arthritis as per severities. In mild psoriatic arthritis, the mainstay of treatment includes anti-inflammatory agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Apart from NSAIDs, the following drugs are also effective as a first-line treatment for mild psoriatic arthritis
Can Osteoarthritis Be Cured?
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured or reversed; however, effective treatment can reduce its progression and slow down complications.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the Wrist
Wrist arthritis is inflammation (swelling) of one or more joints of the wrist. Wrist arthritis is long-lasting or permanent and eventually causes severe joint damage. The early signs of arthritis in the wrist include morning stiffness, redness, tenderness, pain, swelling, weakness, warmth and other symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Gout
Although gout is often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, learn the differences associated with the causes, symptoms, and treatments below.
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Psoriatic Arthritis
Here are the differences between rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis in Thumb
The earliest sign and symptom of thumb arthritis is pain, swelling, and tenderness with activities that involve pinching action. The pain may be dull, achy, or sharp at the base of the thumb. The pain can occur when we grip, grasp, or pinch an object or use the thumb to apply force.
How Can I Improve My Grip Strength With Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by gradual joint inflammation and degeneration. Here are five exercises that reduce muscle stiffness and improve pain due to RA.
What Are the 4 Signs of Osteoarthritis?
The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Learn four signs, two types, and other associated conditions.
Quackery of Arthritis
Arthritis patients are sometimes vulnerable to quackery (the business of promoting unproven remedies). These "quick fix" treatments are promoted as cure-alls, but they really have no right to such claims. Consumers should be wary of products that have marketing claims like "will cure," "ancient remedy," "has no side effects," and "revolutionary new scientific breakthrough." Read about arthritis remedies and tests that have no scientific proof of benefits.
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Juvenile Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis are both types of inflammatory arthritis; however, learn their differences below.
What Is the Main Cause of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative disease of the joints affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It involves the breakdown of cartilage and associated inflammatory changes in the adjacent bone. It is a leading cause of chronic disability, affecting 30 million people in the United States alone.
Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Increase Cardiovascular Risk?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which usually affects joints, and can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
What Are the 3 Common Types of Arthritis?
The 3 most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
Osteoarthritis and Treatment
Painful swelling of the joints due to wear and tear over many years is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis may develop in any joint that includes the fingers, hips, and knees. There are many treatment options available to curb the complications of arthritis.
What Are 5 Common Risk Factors to Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder (the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells). Certain factors increase the risk of RA.
Do Anti-Inflammatories Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder. Anti-inflammatory medications can help address symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Are Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis the Same?
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs due to joint inflammation in people with psoriasis; however, not every person with psoriasis gets psoriatic arthritis.
What Are the Main Causes of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Although the exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, researchers believe it involves a complex mechanism of genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system.
What Can Trigger Psoriatic Arthritis?
Triggers of psoriatic arthritis differ from person to person. Learn the nine most common triggers that cause flare-ups of inflammation in some people.
Can Psoriasis Lead to Psoriatic Arthritis?
It is well established that both psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis are linked. Nearly 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQs
- Acne FAQs
- Asthma FAQs
- Eczema FAQs
- Ulcerative Colitis FAQs
- Bronchitis FAQs
- Crohn's Disease FAQs
- Psoriatic Arthritis FAQs
- Osteoarthritis FAQs
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): 17 Warning Signs of Serious Complications
- Is Inflammatory Arthritis the Same as Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- What if I get COVID-19 with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis
- Can Rituximab Be Taken By Breastfeeding Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Are Corticosteroids Safe for Pregnant and Nursing Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Which Patients Do Best?
- 5 Surprising Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Arava Approved For Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis & Diabetes Gene (PTPN22)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Questions for Your Doctor
- Kineret (anakinra) for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Celebrex - New Arthritis Drug
- Arthritis Foot Care - It's In the Shoes
- Arthritis Medications
- What Not to Eat When You Have Arthritis
- What Are the Side Effects of Remicade for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- What Is a Triple Arthrodesis Surgical Procedure?
- What Kind of Joint Injections Treat Osteoarthritis?
- Does Magnetic Therapy for Arthritis Work?
- What Are the Side Effects of Glucosamine?
- What Kind of Doctor Treats Ankylosing Spodylitis & Reactive Arthritis?
- Can You Be Too Young for a Knee Replacement?
- Do NSAIDs Interact With Coumadin?
- Are Women More Susceptible to Osteoarthritis?
- Can Milk Allergy Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Does Glucosamine Cream Work for Arthritis?
- Can You Get a Cartilage Transplant?
- Do Crohn's Patients Get a Specific Type of Arthritis?
- Does Crohn's Disease Cause Arthritis?
- Can Glucosamine Treat Arthritis?
- Are Hidradenitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis Related?
- How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?
- Does Lipitor Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Can My Diet Improve Arthritis?
- What Are Home Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Patient Story: Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Living With a Chronic Disease
Medications & Supplements
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.
prednisone (Rx). Medscape. 2019