Prednisone is a corticosteroid, similar to a hormone that is made naturally in your body. Corticosteroids (sometimes abbreviated as "steroids") are used to decrease inflammation, (swelling and/or redness) and thus are involved in the management of a number of diseases, including asthma, autoimmune disorders, reactions to medications, and gastrointestinal disorders (colitis), among others. Prednisone may be given to prevent a reaction to a medication, prevent or decrease nausea or be used in high doses to treat certain cancers.
How to Take Prednisone
Prednisone comes as a tablet to take by mouth. Prednisone is best taken with food, as it can irritate your stomach. Your doctor will probably tell you to take your dose(s) of prednisone at certain time(s) of day every day. Your personal dosing schedule will depend on what the medication is being used for. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. If it is too close to your next dose skip the missed dose and resume your schedule.
Storage and Handling
Store your medication in the original, labeled container at room temperature and in a dry location (unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider or pharmacist). Keep containers out of reach of children and pets.
Where do I get this medication?
Prednisone is available through most pharmacies. Your oncology team will work with your prescription drug plan to identify an in-network pharmacy for distribution of this medication.
This medication may be covered under your prescription drug plan. Patient assistance may be available to qualifying individuals without prescription drug coverage. Your care team can help you find these resources, if they are available.
Possible Side Effects of Prednisone
There are a number of things you can do to manage the side effects of prednisone. Talk to your healthcare provider about these recommendations. They can help you decide what will work best for you. These are some of the most common side effects:
Increase in Appetite
Prednisone can cause people to be more hungry or thirsty than usual. Drink plenty of fluids and try to make your snacks healthy ones.
Increase in Energy
Prednisone can give people an increase in energy. They may also develop insomnia, or difficulty sleeping. Taking the medication in the morning may help to prevent this.
Irritability or Change in Mood
Some patients report feeling irritable or noticing a change in their mood while taking prednisone. If this becomes difficult to handle or if the patient expresses a desire to hurt him or herself, notify a healthcare provider right away.
Patients may notice swelling in their hands and/or feet. Elevating the feet may help to lessen swelling in the feet and ankles. Avoid restrictive or tight clothing that may make it harder for the fluid to drain from the hands, feet, and ankles.
Nausea and Heartburn
Taking prednisone with food or milk is generally enough to prevent nausea and heartburn. If possible, take the medication when you can be upright (not lying down) for a few hours after the dose. Avoid things that worsen the symptoms, and try antacids (milk of magnesia and calcium tablets, like Tums), saltines, or ginger ale to lessen symptoms.
Increased Blood Sugar
Prednisone can increase your blood sugar. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar closely and may require higher doses of insulin while taking prednisone. Patients who are not diabetics but are having increased blood sugar levels may be instructed to check their blood sugar and administer insulin while taking prednisone. Your provider will determine if this is necessary.
Weakening of the Bones (Osteoporosis)
Long-term use can lead to early osteoporosis. Your doctor may have you get a bone density scan (dexa scan) to assess your bone health if you are on long- term therapy.
Other Side Effects
Prednisone can cause delayed wound healing, headaches, muscle weakness, and cataracts (after long-term use).
OncoLink is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through OncoLink should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem or have questions or concerns about the medication that you have been prescribed, you should consult your health care provider.
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