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What Is a Prednisone Steroid?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Thirteen Of Clubs, Konstantin Tavrov, Alila
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A prednisone steroid is a type of medication that mimics a natural hormone in the body. It works to interfere with the immune system and to alleviate inflammatory conditions. Doctors may prescribe a prednisone steroid to treat a variety of medical conditions, such as asthma, lupus, and arthritis, as well as ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and allergies. This drug may cause serious complications and side effects, particularly when it is used on a long-term basis. Patients should discuss these risks with their doctors before using it.

Prednisone steroid drugs are taken orally in the form of a tablet or a liquid. Depending on the specific medical condition it was prescribed to treat, it may be taken once every other day, or one to four times daily. Patients should take each dose with food to help reduce stomach discomfort. The abrupt discontinuation of a prednisone steroid should be avoided, because withdrawal effects may develop.

Certain precautions should be followed while using a prednisone steroid. Patients should avoid close contact with sick people, because the suppression of the immune system increases the risk of infection. They should also avoid receiving immunizations for the same reason. The consumption of alcohol while using steroid drugs is not recommended. Some patients may be advised to take a calcium or potassium supplement, or to follow a low-sodium diet that is rich in calcium and potassium.

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Some side effects may occur while using a prednisone steroid, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience insomnia, dizziness, and excessive fatigue. Unusual mood changes may occur, such as extreme mood swings and inappropriate joy, as well as changes in personality. Patients may also notice decreased libido, irregular menstrual periods, and an abnormal distribution of body fat.

More serious side effects require immediate medical care, such as signs of an infection, like a fever, chills, and a sore throat. Problems breathing or swallowing, vomiting, and seizures have also been reported. Involuntary shaking of the hands, muscle twitching, and an irregular heartbeat may occur. Some patients have also reported confusion, depression, and a feeling of detachment from reality. In addition, some complications of a prednisone steroid may include an increased risk of osteoporosis and delayed growth in children.

Before using a prednisone steroid, patients should disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss the potential risks with their doctors. Steroid drugs may be contraindicated for use by those with liver or kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. They may interact with other medicines, including aspirin, blood thinners, and cyclosporine.

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