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What is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a type of anti-inflammatory drug known as a corticosteroid. It was discovered in the 1950s and has changed the way doctors treat a variety of conditions, especially arthritis. Other conditions this medicine can treat include allergies, cancer, immune system deficiencies, and blood disorders. This drug is also often prescribed to those who've undergone a transplant as it helps to stop the body from rejecting the organ.
There is no standard prednisone dosage. Instead, a doctor will prescribe the medicine based on your specific circumstances. How much you take, when you take it, and how long you take it will all depend on your illness and your doctor's assessment of your health.
Despite this, there are some general rules you can follow when taking this medicine:
- Take the exact dosage prescribed. If you're prescribed prednisone in pill or tablet form, this is easy. But if you're taking the liquid version, it's important that you carefully use the included dosage spoon to be sure you are taking as much as you're supposed to. If you lose your dosage spoon, ask your pharmacist or doctor for a new one. Don't use a dinner spoon, measuring spoon, or any other type of device for measuring as it may not provide accurate measurements.
- Take with water, milk, or food. If possible, take your dose with a full glass of water. If you experience an upset stomach due to the drug, you can take it with milk or a little bit of food. Avoid taking the medicine with a big meal to allow it proper time to enter your bloodstream.
- Take your medicine on time. Before leaving your doctor's office, make sure you understand exactly when you should take your medicine. Your doctor may prescribe it for once a day or several times per day. He may also prescribe it for an even lower frequency, such as every other day. In addition to what day you should take it and how often, also ask your doctor about when during the day you should take it. Those who are taking it once per day should take it once prior to 9 AM. Those taking it twice per day should generally allow 12 hours between doses.
Prednisone Side Effects
Many prescription medicines tend to cause side effects. However, most prednisone users do not report any serious side effects. Here are some of the most common side effects you may notice while taking this medicine:
If you experience any of these side effects, try to withstand them as the medicine is providing a greater benefit to you than the side effects are harming you. In many cases, side effects go away the longer you take the medicine.
There are some side effects that you may experience that are more serious in nature. If you experience any of the following, reach out to your doctor so they can advise you on what to do next:
- Irregular heartbeat (too fast or too slow)
- Swelling of the face or extremities
If you're diabetic, be sure to carefully monitor your blood sugar levels as this medicine may affect it. If you notice any changes, reach out to your doctor immediately.
If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction to this medicine, seek emergency help immediately. Some signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, dizziness, itchiness, swelling of the face, and rashes.
Does Prednisone Cause Osteoporosis?
When taken for a long time, prednisone is known to cause osteoporosis, a condition that causes your bones to become weak. However, you can avoid this serious bone issue by making some lifestyle changes.
- Ensure you're getting enough calcium and vitamin D. If you're not getting enough through your diet, you can take supplements to make up the difference.
- Stop smoking. If you're a smoker, give up the habit to strengthen your bones and add years to your life.
- Reduce your alcohol intake. While you don't have to stop drinking completely, reducing how much you drink and how often can help you ward off osteoporosis symptoms.
- Lift weights. You can further strengthen your bones by doing exercises that involve lifting weights. An added bonus is that you'll also build stronger muscles.