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How Prednisone Works

Prednisone is a powerful corticosteroid with anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressant properties. It administers a synthetic form of the hormone cortisol, which is made within adrenal glands that control the balance of water and salt in the human body, and also contributes to the management of stress (cortisol is among hormones related to stress).

Corticosteroids act as substitute adrenal glands by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins and other chemicals that cause inflammation and allergic reactions, and they also interfere with white blood cell function which, in turn, compromises the immune system.

However, there are certain illnesses that are helped by immune-suppressant treatments. Some diseases cause the body to attack different organs as though they are foreign objects, and Prednisone can help to inhibit that potentially fatal reaction. Likewise when the body begins to reject a transplanted organ, Prednisone can help prevent adverse reactions.

Prednisone is commonly used as a treatment for severe environmental allergies, as well as asthma. The anti-inflammatory powers can allow people with these chronic respiratory conditions breathe comfortably after suffering a brutal attack.

Prednisone and other corticosteroids can have side effects if given in high doses, however. It is not uncommon for patients to experience the following:

The severity of the side effects will depend upon the dosage of the medication, but low doses – 5mg or under – typically do not have toxic effects. However, it is extremely important for you to discuss all available treatment options before settling on Prednisone.

It is also critical to disclose any other medications you might be taking, as Prednisone can compromise their effectiveness, and be compromised itself. Certain antibiotics and vaccines can cease to work when mixed with Prednisone, and estrogen treatments can cause the inhibition of Prednisone.

If you suffer from asthma, be aware that Prednisone is not a recommended daily treatment. It is prescribed for sufferers of severe asthma in conjunction with other medications. A patient might take Prednisone if an asthma attack is too severe to be managed with an inhaler alone, and the course of treatment can last from several days to two weeks.

If stopping Prednisone treatments, make sure that you consult your physician about the correct method of weaning yourself off of the drug, since stopping at once can lead to adrenal crisis. It is common for a doctor to prescribe gradually lower and lower doses until the function of the adrenal glands is fully restored. This can take anywhere from several weeks to several years, depending upon the original dosage and the length of time on the drug.