In this drug factsheet:
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- increased appetite
- increased sweating
- menstrual problems
- reddish-purple lines on arms, face, groin, legs, or trunk
- thin, shiny skin
- trouble sleeping
- unusual increase in hair growth
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- decreased or blurred vision
- eye pain
- false sense of well-being
- filling or rounding out of the face
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- irregular heartbeat
- mood swings (sudden and wide)
- muscle weakness
- pain in arms, back, hips, legs, ribs, or shoulders
- skin rash
- stunting of growth (for children)
- swelling of feet or lower legs
- symptoms of a stomach ulcer (e.g., persistent abdominal or stomach pain or burning, bloody or black, tarry stools)
- unusual bruising
- weight gain (rapid)
- wounds that will not heal
- worsening high blood pressure
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, e.g.:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Electrolytes and fluid: If you take large doses of prednisone, you may need to restrict your salt intake and take potassium supplements. Check with your doctor about whether you need any supplements while you are on this medication. You may also retain extra fluid that may cause an increase in your blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor for these effects by checking your blood pressure and doing blood tests to check your electrolyte levels.
Eye problems: Prolonged use of prednisone may cause glaucoma with possible damage to the optic nerves or it may produce cataracts. It may also increase the risk of eye infections due to fungi or viruses. If you have herpes simplex of the eye, you may be at a higher risk of an eye injury called corneal perforation. You should discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
High blood sugar: Prednisone can cause high blood sugar. Your doctor may check your blood sugar levels with blood tests while you are taking this medication. If you have diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. If you experience increased thirst and urination while taking this medication, contact your doctor.
Infections: This medication may mask some signs of infection, and new infections may appear during their use. Contact your doctor if you notice any symptoms of an infection (e.g., fever, chills, cough, sore throat), or if you are in contact with someone who has measles or chickenpox.
Kidney problems: If you have kidney problems or reduced kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Medical treatment: Inform all doctors that you go to that you are taking this medication.
Osteoporosis: This medication can increase the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones). Talk to your doctor about ways to help prevent osteoporosis. Your doctor will monitor your bone density if you take this medication for a long period of time.
Stomach and intestinal problems: If you have or have had a stomach or intestinal ulcer, or have ulcerative colitis, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Stopping medication: Do not stop this medication without consulting your doctor. When this medication is stopped after having taken it for a prolonged period, the dose should be reduced slowly as prescribed by your doctor. Suddenly stopping prednisone following prolonged treatment may result in symptoms of corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome including nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, muscle and joint pain, and a general feeling of unwellness.
Unusual stress: If you experience any unusual stress (e.g., trauma, surgery), your doctor may increase your dose of prednisone during and after the stressful situation.
Vaccination: If you are taking this medication, vaccines may not be as effective and you may be more likely to experience certain side effects. Therefore, vaccines are usually not recommended while you are taking prednisone, especially when high doses are used.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking prednisone, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding . If you take high doses of prednisone, your doctor may advise you not to breast-feed.
Children: Since prednisone can slow the growth and development of infants and children, it should not be taken for prolonged periods of time if at all possible. Growth and development will be closely monitored by your child's doctor.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between prednisone and any of the following:
- antacids (e.g., aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide)
- anticholinesterase medications (e.g., neostigmine, pyridostigmine)
- antidiabetes medications (e.g., insulin, glyburide, gliclazide)
- barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital)
- estrogens (including estrogen-containing birth control pills)
- ethacrynic acid
- NSAIDs (e.g., naproxen, ibuprofen)
- salicylates (e.g., ASA)
- thiazides (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide)
- vaccines or toxoids (e.g., BCG, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.