What Is Prednisone?

An explaination of what prednisone is and it's basic side effects.

This article is written from personal experience with the drug.

For most patients with Crohn's Disease, Prednisone is the first line of treatment. This drug is a corticosteroid. It mimics the body's own production of cortisone. Cortisone is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.

Prednisone is a wonderful drug, if used correctly. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces inflammation and swelling in the intestinal track. This is one of the main concerns for Crohn's patient.

For Crohn's patients, the normal beginning dose is 40mg per day. One cannot quit this drug at anytime. Prednisone must be tapered off of. It usually takes 8 to 12 weeks to come off this drug. But unfortunately many do not come off of it as planed. Some patients are on this drug at high dosages even after 2 or 3 years. This is when the problems start to occur.



One side effect of Prednisone that is usually noticed immediately is Cushing's syndrome; this is the moon faced look. Often a patient will gain 20 to 30lbs while on Prednisone. Some will lose only about half that weight, but some will never lose it.

Also a few others are noticeable soon after starting the medication are mood swings, sweating, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, irritability and nervousness. Some patients will develop acne or red blotches on the skin. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, may result as the dosage is increased. After long term use, it is a suggested that one has a through eye exam, as cataracts may form.

For women, there are several notable side effects. If a woman had heavy and painful menstrual cycles, she most likely now will have lighter and less painful ones. If the opposite is true, she might have heavy and painful cycles. She may also notice an increase in facial hair.

A patient, who is pre-disposed to diabetes, will often develop steroid induced diabetes, which is similar to gestational diabetes. The higher dose of Prednisone, the higher the risk of developing diabetes and the higher the blood sugar count will be. They will have to take short term, fast acting insulin after each meal, instead of one single shot, as do most diabetics.

Another side effect is calcium leaching from the bones. This does cause osteoporosis. It doesn't matter what the age, Prednisone can cause this. Everyone on Prednisone should take calcium supplements whether on this for 6 weeks or 6 months. It does not matter if one is 20 years old or 45 years old, Prednisone can cause osteoporosis

After 6 months on Prednisone, it is a good idea to have a bone density scan done. This is a scan, similar to a CAT scan. It measure the bone mass. If you do have osteoporosis, there are several medications that are available to replenish the bone mass. The most popular is Fosamax; this may not be the best drug for people with Crohn's disease as it is harsh on the stomach. A better choice is Miacalcin, which is a nasal spray.

Please talk to your doctor about any concerns that you have if taking Prednisone.

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