Prednisone is an oral synthetic steroid that is used for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Its ability to reduce inflammation explains the connection between the use of prednisone and asthma control. Scroll down to learn about the side effects of this drug.
Drug therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for various ailments that affect mankind. When doctors prescribe drugs, their main aim is to alleviate the symptoms of the disease and prevent the disease from progressing any further. In fact, some of the pharmacological agents that help in restoring the natural bodily processes are versions of the chemicals that are synthesized within the body.
Prednisone is one such synthetic glucocorticoid that produces the corticosteroid-like effect after it is ingested. The mechanism of action is similar to that of the corticosteroid hormones that are synthesized by the body. Since this drug basically helps in regulating the inflammatory response of the body, it is used for the treatment of inflammatory conditions.
What is Prednisone Used For?
Prednisone is one of the most commonly prescribed synthetic glucocorticoid drugs. It suppresses the inflammatory response that occurs in response to injury or pathogenic infections, which is why it is also referred to as an immunosuppressant. It is basically an inactive derivative, which gets processed into an active metabolite called prednisolone. The chain of events that either occur as a part of inflammatory response or occur when the immune system becomes overactive, can be stopped with the help of this drug.
Since it is an anti-inflammatory drug, it is used for the treatment of conditions such as asthma, allergies, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, endocrine disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Since it acts as an immune suppressant, it may also be prescribed for the treatment of autoimmune conditions. Its use is recommended after an organ transplant as well. This is to prevent the body from rejecting the organ, and preventing the inflammation that may occur if the immune system recognizes the implanted organ as a foreign body.
Prednisone for the Treatment of Asthma
Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the airways which is characterized by shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Inhalation of environmental irritants such as smoke, dust, chemicals, pollen or anything that one may be allergic to, may trigger an attack. The air that we inhale, passes through the trachea, and is then taken into the right and left lung through right and left bronchial tubes. An asthma attack occurs whenever one inhales anything that irritates the airways and causes them to get inflamed. As a result of inflammation, the airways tighten and become constricted.
Excessive production of phlegm may also occur as a result of inflammation. This gives rise to breathing problems. Those who are asthmatic may also experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and tightness of chest during such episodes. Under such circumstances, inhaled corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids, bronchodilators or nebulizer medications are prescribed in order to dilate the airways and bring down the inflammation. Prednisone is usually recommended for those who suffer from severe symptoms.
Is It Safe to Use Prednisone for Asthma?
As mentioned earlier, this drug is recommended in case of an acute asthma exacerbation. An attack can be life-threatening if the airways become constricted and cause respiratory distress. It is definitely one of the most potent, synthetic corticosteroid that can help in suppressing the inflammation, however, long term use of this drug must be avoided. While some patients may experience untoward effects due to an allergic reaction, long term use can even have an adverse effect on one’s immune system. Since it acts like an immunosuppressant, prolonged use of this drug can make one vulnerable to infections.
While a steroid burst, wherein high doses are given for a few days will certainly prove beneficial, using it for long periods of time certainly poses many health risks. Doctors are well aware of the problems related to long term use of prednisone for the treatment of this respiratory condition which is why they exercise caution while recommending this drug.
While the prolonged use of this drug can affect a child’s growth and may even affect the body’s ability to produce natural corticosteroids, fluid retention, thinning of bones, easy bruising, abnormal weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, diabetes mellitus and cataract are some of the side effects that may occur due to prolonged use. One must also take the steroid as per the recommended dosage and take it until the time that has been suggested by the doctor. One could even become highly dependent on this drug, and may develop withdrawal symptoms if one stops using the drug suddenly. Thus, doctors reduce the dosage over a period of time, before the long term treatment is stopped.
This was some information on the viability of use of prednisone and asthma control. Though asthma is a common condition that affects adults as well as children, it can be controlled with the help of drug therapy and self-care measures. Avoidance of the triggers is the best way of preventing an attack. Usually, steroids are prescribed when the use of other drugs are not giving the desired results. If doctors do prescribe a steroid such as prednisone, they prescribe short burst of this oral steroid. The main aim of short burst therapy is to reduce inflammation, while avoidance of triggers will help to reduce the frequency or recurrence of asthma attacks in future.