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Prednisone Withdrawal

Prednisone Withdrawal

Prednisone is a steroid used as a replacement for cortisol, which is a hormone produced by our adrenal gland. This drug is used in the treatment of various diseases. As prednisone is a steroid, sudden withdrawal of the drug can have an adverse effect on the health of the patient.
Nilesh Parekh
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Prednisone is a steroid drug belonging to the class of corticosteroids used to treat ulcerative colitis, some types of arthritis, allergies, migraine headache, asthma, Crohn's disease, and disorders related to blood, skin, kidney, eyes, etc., because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Prednisone is used as a replacement for cortisol (a steroid produced by the adrenal glands in our body), when adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormone required for our body. Prednisone provides relief in case of most of the diseases that involve internal inflammation such as inflammation of digestive tract, severe poison ivy dermatitis, severe asthma, and systemic lupus erythematosus, etc.
Side Effects of Prednisone

Prednisone is primarily a steroid and so, it does have both positive as well as negative effects on our health. Hence, it should be noted that before beginning to take prednisone dosage, or making any kind of changes to the current dosage, taking an opinion of your doctor is very important. Any kind of negligence can lead to a number of side effects, which may include the following:
  • Unpredictable mood swings, especially in case of people suffering from mental illness
  • Dizziness, vomiting and insomnia
  • Acne
  • Chemical imbalance in the body
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
  • Fluctuations in levels of calcium, potassium, water, etc.
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight gain
  • Slow healing
  • Increased susceptibility towards infections
  • Swollen breasts due to deposition of fat
  • Irregularities in menstrual cycle in case of women
  • Eye problems such as increased pressure of fluid within the eyeballs, development of cataract, vision changes, etc.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Joint pains
This steroid may also interfere with the other medicines that the patient is taking, and cause serious trouble for him/her. For example, if a person is taking any medication for medical conditions related to the heart, brain or any vital organ, then this steroid can lead to increased blood pressure. People undergoing treatment for inflammation may face problems associated with the digestive system due to use of prednisone.
How to Taper Off Prednisone

Owing to the fact that prednisone might have good as well as bad effects on the human body, a proper set of guidelines provided by an expert must be followed while discontinuing the use of the same. Sudden and abrupt stoppage of intake may affect the metabolic process of the body and can lead to sudden depression, impaired growth, etc. In order to avoid any such issues, the withdrawal should be done gradually and under strict observation of a medical expert.
Once you start taking the dosages, your body stops producing cortisol depending upon its volume. If the dosages are stopped suddenly, it can be fatal for the health as the body is not producing cortisol and the external supplement is also stopped. This condition is also known as Addisonian Crisis or Adrenal Crisis. Prednisone withdrawal should be gradual so as to help the body to start producing cortisol required to perform its various functions.
Withdrawal Symptoms

Following may be some of the withdrawal symptoms of prednisone:
  • Muscular weakness
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Hypotension
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Trouble while breathing
It has to be noted, however, that the symptoms may not be limited to the ones mentioned above, and different people may experience different symptoms during the period of prednisone withdrawal. These may depend, to a large extent, on the amount of intake of the steroid as well as other medications.
Prednisone withdrawal in children should be monitored carefully. Sudden withdrawal can stop the cortisol production in the body thereby affecting the growth of the child, which may result in delayed onset of puberty in the future.
Your doctor may monitor the effects of prednisone withdrawal on your body and suggest you to follow a particular procedure such as gradual decrease in prednisone dosages by certain amount, altering your diet and suggesting you to do some exercises. The process of decreasing the dosage will be very slow if you have been taking prednisone for a long period (it can take a year or even more), as compared to a short-term course of prednisone. This will involve decreasing dosages by a very small amount, taking prednisone dose on alternate days, etc., so that the adrenal gland in your body starts producing cortisol on its own.
Disclaimer ~ This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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