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What are the side effects of prednisone?

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Prednisone is a medication in a class of drugs called corticosteroids. You might hear your doctor call them glucocorticoids. Prednisone quickly reduces inflammation, which cuts down on pain, redness, and swelling. It also dials down your immune system.

Steroids come with a long list of side effects. They’re more common with oral medications like prednisone because it affects your entire body. You’re also more likely to get them if you’re taking a high dose over a long time. Some side effects are more serious and longer lasting than others.

Common side effects of prednisone include:

  • Bone thinning (osteoporosis)
  • Eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts
  • High blood pressure
  • Worsening diabetes
  • Higher risk of infection
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Skin problems like easy bruising and slower wound healing
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach upset (especially if you take it with ibuprofen or naproxen)
  • Swollen, puffy face
  • Water retention, swelling in lower legs

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Corticosteroids.”

Hospital for Special Surgery: “Steroid Side Effects: How to Reduce Drug Side Effects of Corticosteroids.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prednisone and other corticosteroids,” “Prednisone (Oral Route),” “Prednisone withdrawal: Why do I need to slowly taper down the dosage?”

American College of Rheumatology: “Prednisone (Deltasone).”

Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: “Arthritis Treated with Prednisone,” Low-Dose Prednisone Can Slow Joint Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network: “RA and Corticosteroids: What is the Role of Steroids in Arthritis Treatment?”

Vasculitis Foundation: “How long does prednisone stay in your system?”

UpToDate: “Prednisone: Drug Information.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 11, 2020

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Corticosteroids.”

Hospital for Special Surgery: “Steroid Side Effects: How to Reduce Drug Side Effects of Corticosteroids.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prednisone and other corticosteroids,” “Prednisone (Oral Route),” “Prednisone withdrawal: Why do I need to slowly taper down the dosage?”

American College of Rheumatology: “Prednisone (Deltasone).”

Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: “Arthritis Treated with Prednisone,” Low-Dose Prednisone Can Slow Joint Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network: “RA and Corticosteroids: What is the Role of Steroids in Arthritis Treatment?”

Vasculitis Foundation: “How long does prednisone stay in your system?”

UpToDate: “Prednisone: Drug Information.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 11, 2020

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