Prednisone – sometimes it’s mispelled as “prednizone”-is a generic, inexpensive, and commonly used medicine in arthritis treatment.
The diseases for which corticosteroids are most often used are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s disease, polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, gout and pseudogout, sarcoidosis, and the arthritis accompanying inflammatory bowel disease.
It is catabolic (meaning it breaks down tissue) and anti-inflammatory.
When taken chronically it can suppress the ability of the adrenal glands to make its own steroid, particularly if the average daily dose of prednisone is greater than 7.5 mgs.
Other factors that constrain the ability of the adrenals to perform are if therapy continues for more than a few weeks or months, if doses are given late in the day or in divided doses throughout the day, or if long-acting corticosteroid preparations are used.
Patients who require high doses of prednisone (more than 20 mgs a day) for extended periods of time always develop side-effects.
Taking steroids on an alternate day (every other day) schedule reduces the chance of adrenal insufficiency but does not eliminate it.
Other side-effects include:
Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
Increased blood pressure
Electrolyte abnormalities such as low potassium serum levels
Hardening of the arteries
Thinning of the skin
Cataracts and glaucoma
Purple striae (stretch marks)
Poor wound healing
Susceptibility to infection and masking of infection leading to sepsis and death
Avascular necrosis (dead bone)
Inflammation of the pancreas
Stomach ulcers (particularly if used with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
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