Prednisone is a commonly prescribed steroid used to treat a variety of conditions. Most people recognize it as a treatment for asthma, but it can also be beneficial in treating certain types of arthritis. Prednisone, which is a corticosteroid, has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, lupus, temporal arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, dermatomyositis, polymyositis, gout, sarcoidosis, pseudogout, and the arthritis that goes along with inflammatory bowel disease.
Your body has endocrine glands that help keep your organs functioning. Endocrine glands excrete hormones which have specific tasks related to regulation. Your body has multiple ways of providing feedback, so this system stays under control.
A specific endocrine organ, your adrenal glands, produces glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids have many different functions, including maintaining blood pressure, metabolizing protein, fat, and sugar, responding to stress, and inflammation. Your body produces these chemicals naturally, but sometimes it does not produce enough, or they do not function properly. Arthritis is an inflammatory disease. Therefore, it can be helped by the use of steroids. Oral steroids are an artificial way of getting glucocorticoids into your body. Although Prednisone can work well for arthritis, it does have its drawbacks, especially if you quit taking it without a doctor's instruction.
Steroids like Prednisone can be given intravenously, intramuscularly, or by mouth. These types of steroids are referred to as exogenous. When you take these drugs, it reduces the ability of your adrenal glands to manufacture glucocorticoids.
Without the ability to increase steroid production, you can experience shock if you go into stress or obtain an injury, infection, or go through surgery. Therefore, you must not stop taking Prednisone "cold turkey." Since your body will not be making glucocorticoids on its own, you must slowly taper off of Prednisone to give your body a chance to start working on its own and catch up.
There are also some side effects to be aware of when using Prednisone. Less serious side effects include acne, dry or thinning skin, discoloration or bruising, increased sweating, nausea, bloating, or stomach pain, mood changes, sleep problems, wounds that heal slowly, headaches, spinning sensations or dizziness, and changes in body fat composition or location.
More serious side effects include tarry or blood stools, swelling, eye pain, blurred vision, seeing halos around lights, rapid weight gain, depression, coughing up blood, feeling short of breath, unusual behavior or thoughts, pancreatitis, seizures, low potassium, and a dangerous increase in blood pressure. If you experience any of these side effects, contact your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
If you have arthritis, it might be worth it to discuss Prednisone with your physician. As with any drug, it is necessary to weigh the pros and cons in order to determine if it is a good treatment. You should always let your doctor know about any other medical conditions you may have, and any medications you are taking. Do not take Prednisone without a prescription and supervision from a doctor. Also, do not take a higher dose than prescribed.