Prednisone effects can seem miraculous. But does it work for everyone? At what dose? And at what cost? Here are some basic facts on prednisone and links for more information on specific questions you may have.
Desired prednisone effects
Prednisone and similar corticosteroids like prednisolone are extremely effective at reducing inflammation in most people. Steroids are considered immunosuppressants and they are used to treat everything from minor rashes to asthma to cancer. Of course that includes rheumatoid disease (RD), an inflammatory disease that can affect almost any part of the body. Actually, prednisone effects were first demonstrated in treating RD as cortisone was developed.
The effect of cortisone, and later prednisone, was nothing short of miraculous. Inflammation was reduced quickly and effectively. People who were crippled by RD literally got up and walked at the Mayo Clinic with newly discovered cortisone. It was the reason Mayo doctors won the Nobel Prize in 1950. Since then steroids, especially the oral form prednisone, have become the mainstay of treatment for many conditions, at doses from 5mg to 60 mg per day.
Negative prednisone effects
Side effects are the added, usually unwanted effects of a medicine. Prednisone is famous for its side effects, maybe as much as for its effectiveness. Not only is it not fully understood how prednisone reduces inflammation so well, but its side effects are also a mystery. The list of side effects is long: from thinning skin and hair to a malfunctioning metabolism, to vision clouded by cataracts, and redistribution of body fat.
READ MORE: Prednisone Side Effects
3 Rules of thumb for prednisone
What do we know about how prednisone affects people? Some experimentation may be necessary.
1) People are affected differently at different doses.
2) We can’t predict which side effects will occur or how severely.
3) Both good effects and side effects may change over time.
4 Suggestions on taming prednisone effects
I hate taking it. How can I make the most of prednisone?
1) Try slightly different doses if prednisone was ineffective or side effects were overwhelming. Find the lowest possible effective dose.
2) Try another form of steroid such as prednisolone or systemic steroid injections if prednisone was ineffective or intolerable.
3) Try one of the newer delayed-release versions such as Rayos or Lodotra.
4) Be sure to address other factors which can magnify side effects, such as any dietary deficiency, thyroid imbalance, or blood glucose levels.
What are your suggestions to make the most of prednisone?
Stay tuned next time for part 2 of this series, a look at how prednisone dosage varies with individuals: my secret prednisone dosage experiment.
- Is Prednisone Over-Prescribed?
- Steroid Injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis: 5 Questions
- When You Can’t Get Off Prednisone