Prednisone

    Written by Dr. Brian Bressler on January 2, 2020

    What is it?

    Prednisone is under a class of medications called corticosteroids. It works be suppressing the overactive immune system which will help reduce the inflammatory reaction within the GI tract.

    Why do I need this medication?

    This medication is effective in treating the moderate to severe symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. It is also used to help induce remission in combination with other medications. It helps reduce inflammation to avoid further complications associated with having active disease.

    How should I use prednisone?

    This medication comes in pill form and should be taken once daily in the morning. A typical starting dose is 40mg daily for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, the medication is slowly reduced by 5mg every week.

    The body naturally produces a steroid called Cortisol. When you start taking prednisone, the normal production of Cortisol will decrease. As you decrease your dose of Prednisone, Cortisol production will resume, but does so slowly. Therefore, it is important not to quickly stop therapy to avoid any potential withdrawal symptoms.

    Side effects of prednisone

    The risk of many of these side effects increases with repeated courses or with the long-term use of steroids.

    • Acne
    • Hirsutism (hair growth)
    • Striae (stretch marks)
    • Mood disturbances
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Edema (swelling of the feet or ankles)
    • Cushinoid appearance (rounding of face/moonface)
    • Increased appetite/Weight gain
    • Avascular necrosis (groin pain)
    • Increased blood glucose levels
    • Osteoporosis
    • Hypertension
    • Cataracts/Glaucoma
    • Increased risk of infection

    Special Considerations

    • Because Prednisone can increase the risk of osteoporosis, it is advisable to take a 1500mg Calcium supplement and 2000iu supplement of Vitamin D daily while on therapy.
    • At the higher doses, because Prednisone suppresses the immune system, live vaccines should be avoided.
    • Please contact the office if you are not seeing an improvement in your symptoms as further changes may be necessary to your treatment plan.
    • Please call your doctor immediately if you experience any unusual hip or groin pain while on therapy.

    When will I start to feel better?

    Steroids can work quickly and although some benefits can be seen within a few days, full effects are typically evaluated after a 2 week period.

    How long do I have to take this medication?

    Prednisone is used as a short-term treatment to help with symptoms and induce remission. It is not effective as a long-term maintenance agent as it does not prevent flares and can be associated with negative long-term effects.

    Is it safe during pregnancy?

    Although Prednisone can be taken during pregnancy, special considerations are needed for the mother and developing baby. Please speak with your doctor about family planning and for further information

    Can I drink alcohol while on this medication?

    Yes, alcohol can be consumed in moderation.

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