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How Does Prednisone Work?

How Does Prednisone Work?

What is prednisone and how does it work? What are its side effects? Read on to find the answers...
Aastha Dogra
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
Our body naturally produces glucocorticoids, which have anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing properties. It is due to the presence of glucocorticoids in the body that various kinds of health conditions, which cause inflammations, such as arthritis, asthma, certain respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, etc., can be tackled effectively. However, the glucocorticoids in the body are sometimes not enough to take care of these conditions. This is where medicines like prednisone come in. Prednisone is a type of steroid, which provides the body with the extra glucocorticoids, which it needs to overcome the inflammations and other health conditions that the body might be suffering from. Let us try to understand in detail.
How Does Prednisone Work in the Body?
As mentioned above, prednisone is recommended when the body is not in a state to produce enough glucocorticoids itself. For instance, if a person has suffered a fatal injury or is suffering from a life-threatening disease like cancer, his immunity is bound to get weakened. It is in situations like these that Prednisone is prescribed to patients, as it blocks the hormones that lead to inflammations and thus helps a person overcome diseases.
Prednisone is mostly taken in tablet form. It's available in liquid forms too, for those patients who are unable to swallow the tablets. The dosage of prednisone tablets depends upon the illness or injury that a person suffers from as well as on various factors like age, weight, any other medicine that a person might be taking (to avoid drug interactions), the severity of the patient's condition and any other medical condition he might be already suffering from. Prednisone is available in various strengths such as prednisone 1mg, 2.5 mg, 5mg, 10 mg, 20mg and 50 mg.
Prednisone is always taken on prescription. It should be taken exactly in the way it is prescribed, otherwise it can cause many side effects. Researches have shown that if the entire course of prednisone is not followed, it can cause side effects such as insomnia, weight gain, stomach ulcers, irritation in the stomach, excessive sweating, headaches, diarrhea, depression, joint pain and high blood pressure. On the other hand, if prednisone is taken for more than a couple of weeks, the body then gets used to being supplied artificially with steroids and thus, stops making them on its own. That's why, taking the right dosage of prednisone is of utmost importance, otherwise many side effects can occur.
In some cases, the side effects of prednisone can prove to be life-threatening. When a person is diseased, it is his nervous and endocrine systems which fight the bacteria, virus, germs, etc. responsible for causing it. The body sends signal to the brain and kidneys that a foreign body is present. This is where the natural immunity of the body comes into play. In order to check the injury or illness to spread to other places, the body swells at the site of the "problem". Now, if in this condition, certain side effects of prednisone, like high blood sugar are experienced, the nervous and endocrine system does not work well. This can deteriorate the condition of the lungs, heart and other important body organs, leading to disastrous consequences.
Prednisone can be very effective in certain treatments and it's not that everyone will experience its side effects. Still, to be on the safer side, people should be very open with their doctors and inform them about any pre-existing health conditions that they might be suffering from. People who suffer from fungal infections, diabetes, liver disease, under-active thyroid, osteoporosis, ulcer, hypertension, kidney disease, allergies and women who are pregnant, should be especially very forthcoming with their doctors.
In spite of the side effects (which mostly can be kept in check), prednisone is an excellent treatment for suppressing an overactive immune system and reducing any inflammations in the body, provided the correct dosage is taken.