Scary Side Effects Of Prednisone [Proper Guidelines To Follow]

Since 1968, the FDA has received more than 87,545 reports of adverse events related to Rayos, Prednisone Intensol, and generic prednisone.

Prednisone is generally a safe medication, but it can have some side effects. These side effects can range from mild to severe, and they can vary from person to person.

Some of the most common side effects of prednisone include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. In rare cases, patients experienced some severe side effects too.

This article aims to give you all the information you need to know before or during taking Prednison.

What Does Prednisone Do

Prednisone belongs to a class of medications called glucocorticoids/corticosteroids/glucocorticosteroids, which are often prescribed for

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blood disorders
  • Problems in breathing
  • Skin diseases
  • Cancer
  • Eye disease
  • Immune-related disease
  • Allergies, and more.

Prednisone (Corticosteroids) works by reducing inflammation in our body. Inflammation is responsible for many common health problems such as arthritis, asthma, and allergies. Inflammation occurs when your body’s own immune system goes into overdrive and releases chemicals called cytokines that cause damage to tissues throughout your body.

Prednisone helps reduce inflammation by blocking two molecules involved in inflammation: interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Blocking these inflammatory molecules allows the human body to heal itself.

How Does it Help

We make cortisol naturally to keep our brains and hearts working when we are sick or injured. Corticosteroids are similar to this hormone.

Additionally, cortisol can lower inflammation, stabilize electrolytes, and help the body access sugar during times of stress.

A long period of stress also reduces our immune system’s reaction to germs, which is why too much stress increases your risk of getting sick.

13 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Prednisone

  1. The side effects of prednisone are usually minor or nonexistent for most patients. Side effects can also be managed or reduced by proper guidelines.
  2. When taking prednisone, you should be aware that it may decrease your ability to fight infections. Stay away from sick people and wash your hands frequently and try to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
  3. In the course of treatment with prednisone, you should not receive any “live” immunizations (vaccines) without the approval of your doctor. The vaccine may cause the infection it is supposed to prevent.
  4. Avoid people who recently took “live” virus vaccines, do not stay in the same room with them. Also, avoid people with chicken pox.  Live vaccines include measles, mumps, influenza (nasal flu vaccine), poliovirus (oral form), rotavirus, rubella, and so on.
  5. Research data [1] shows that short-term use of corticosteroids is associated with increased rates of sepsis, venous thromboembolism, and fractures, even at relatively low doses.
  6. Some patients may experience changes in mood or behavior when taking this medicine. When taking this medicine, tell your doctor if you experience depression, mood swings, a false or unusual sense of well-being, sleep problems, or changes in personality.
  7. In 2019, FDA received [2] 17,068 reports of side effects of prednisone. Including death, but due to the fact that FAERS reports are voluntary and are submitted by patients, it is difficult to confirm that prednisone was the only cause of these side effects.
  8. Children’s growth can be affected by steroids like prednisone. If you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while taking this medication, talk to your doctor.
  9. Prednisone side effects are more common in women. Depending on the individual’s overall health, age, and other medications they are taking, prednisone side effects can differ in severity and type.
  10. When taken during your first trimester, prednisone can cause low birth weight or birth defects. Are you pregnant, or are you planning to become pregnant in the near future? Do not hesitate to tell your doctor about this. Make sure you use effective birth control.
  11. The drug prednisone can pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. You should tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
  12. So many drugs and illnesses can have mild to severe side effects with Prednisone; make sure you discuss your current health situation, drugs you are taking, and your lifestyle with your doctor.
  13. It is recommended you take Prednisone with or after food; doctors worldwide agree it reduces the chances of adverse effects of Prednisone.
  14. Prednisone should not be stopped suddenly. Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.

KEY POINT: Consult to your doctor briefly about your current health, drugs you are taking, and ask him what to avoid to increase effectiveness and decrease the chances of side effects. Discuss with him these risk factors.


When Do Prednisone Side Effects Start?

There is no exact time when Prednisone will start reacting badly in your body. Or even there is no guarantee that It will do so.

Patients who experienced side effects of prednisone reported feeling bad after a few hours. Some of them reported after a few days, weeks, and even after months. No one can tell you that prednisone gonna have an adverse effect on exactly when you go to bed or after waking up in the morning.

Patients may face short-term side and long-term side effects after taking Prednisone. It totally depends on

  • your body
  • your current health situation
  • the medications you are taking
  • how is your lifestyle
  • your DNA, and other things.

KEY POINT: Do not worry too much about the side effects of Prednisone. If you haven’t started taking it yet or have already started, follow your doctor’s instructions strictly. Worrying too much about when side effects can occur may worsen the situation.


Common Side Effects Of Prednisone

There are some common side effects associated with prednisone that you should be aware of. The following symptoms should be reported to your doctor if they do not go away or are severe.

These side effects usually do not need immediate medical attention. But in case these stay for long, consult your doctor.

Common side effects of Prednisone

  • Weight Gain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Having Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • An inappropriate level of happiness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • A change in personality
  • Eyes bulging
  • An acne-prone skin
  • Fragile, thin skin
  • Under the skin, there are red or purple blotches or lines
  • Bruises and cuts heal more slowly
  • Body fat distribution changes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • A decrease in sexual desire
  • Heartburn
  • Sweating more

What Are The Most Serious Side Effects Of Prednisone?

Some side effects can be quite serious. Call your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms.

These are some symptoms that require immediate and higher medical attention. Do not take these serious side effects as granted.

serious side effects of prednisone

  • Having difficulty seeing
  • Pain, redness, or tearing in the eyes
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Symptoms of infection include sore throat, fever, chills, coughing, etc.
  • A seizure
  • Depressive mood
  • Sense of disconnection from reality
  • A twitch or tightening of the muscles
  • Uncontrollable shaking of the hands
  • Having numbness, burning, or tingling in your face, arms, legs, feet, or hands
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Heartbeats that are irregular
  • Weight gain that occurs suddenly
  • A feeling of shortness of breath, especially at night
  • Coughing that is dry and hacking
  • Stomach pain or swelling
  • Inflammation of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Breathing or swallowing difficulties
  • Itchy skin, rashes

KEY POINT:The list of side effects may make you wonder whether you should take this medication, but so many patients worldwide take low dose prednisone every day with no or minimal side effects.


Short-Term Side Effects

Compared to long-term use, short-term use is much less understood regarding complications.

The use of short-term corticosteroids has been reported to be associated with numerous cases of avascular necrosis as well as a few cases of fatal varicella-zoster in immunocompetent patients. There is a rare chance that severe mood changes and psychotic reactions can occur unpredictably with short-term corticosteroids.

There is a small risk of these events occurring, and the use of short-term corticosteroids is generally without problems.

Long-Term Side Effects

It is possible that some side effects of prednisone will persist even after you stop taking it. It can cause permanent or long-term side effects.

It has been reported that these medications lead to problems such as:

Long term effects of Prednisone

  • Osteoporosis (thin bones)
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cataracts
  • Thin skin with topical products
  • Fungal infections of the mouth or throat with inhalers
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases

Prednisone During Pregnancy

Long-term use of oral corticosteroids during pregnancy, such as prednisone, is associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight.

Corticosteroids are used to treat conditions that can increase preterm delivery and low birth weight. These effects may be related to the illnesses being treated and not just the medications.

It has been found that women who take oral steroid drugs during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy have a fairly small increase in the risk of cleft lip and cleft palate in their babies.<

Researchers [3] also found that a person with active lupus who take more than 10 milligrams per day of prednisone had a greater risk of preterm delivery.

According to other studies, prednisone may improve some pregnancy outcomes. It is essential to weigh any possible risks to your pregnancy against the benefits of taking prednisone or prednisolone and treating your condition.

Prednisone Pregnancy Category

Low doses of prednisone are considered relatively safe in pregnancy and are classified as category B medications.

Pregnancy category B is a designation for a pregnancy that is not considered to be at high risk but may nonetheless require specific attention. This includes pregnancies that are considered low-risk based on the woman’s age, race, and other factors but may still require some form of monitoring. 

Some common things to monitor during pregnancy in category B include blood pressure, weight, and prenatal care.

Side Effects Of Prednisone During Lactation

The presence of prednisolone in breastmilk is very rare [4]. Any corticosteroid used by the mother during breastfeeding has not adversely affected breastfed infants.

Breastfeeding should be avoided for 4 hours after high maternal doses to reduce the infant’s exposure. With short-term use, however, this maneuver is not necessary.  There is a possibility that high doses may temporarily decrease milk supply.

At the revision date, no information was found regarding the effects of prednisolone on serum prolactin or lactation. Still, some studies [5] have reported a temporary reduction of lactation when medium to large doses of depot corticosteroids are injected into joints.

Side Effects Of Prednisone With Alcohol

Both steroids and alcohol suppress the immune system. A suppressed immune system makes it harder for your body to fight infections. Taking alcohol and prednisone together increases the risk of this difficulty.

Side effects of prednisone with alcohol can include stomach pain, diarrhea, heartburn, upset stomach, and so on. If you drink alcohol while taking prednisone, it is important to be aware of these potential side effects and take steps to avoid them.

We already discussed that Prednisone is a steroid medication that is used to treat a variety of medical conditions. 

It can help to reduce inflammation and pain in the body. On the other hand, alcohol can cause inflammation and pain in the body and can make prednisone less effective.

Perhaps your best option is to refrain from drinking until you have completed your treatment.

KEY POINT: You can get useful guidance from your doctor if you are honest about your alcohol consumption.


Side Effects Of Prednisone in Kids

Prednisone is widely used in Kids/Children and is considered safe. It is also well effective in Kids. But it is also important to consider the potential risks associated with prednisone use in children.

This drug also affects hormones; sometimes, it suppresses the pituitary-adrenal axis. So when a child takes prednisone for a long period, their growth can be disrupted.

Children can also experience sexual maturation and bone development in rare cases. It is possible for these effects to persist even after the medication has been stopped.

Some of the most common side effects of prednisone in children include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping.

If your child is taking prednisone, monitoring them closely for any of these side effects is important. If you are concerned about any side effects your child is experiencing, please contact your child’s doctor.

Side Effects Of Prednisone Withdrawal

Blood pressure and heart rate are regulated by cortisol in the body. The body naturally maintains a consistent level of cortisol without medication.

Prednisone reduces the production of cortisol in the body, especially when the course of treatment exceeds a few weeks. A person who stops taking prednisone cannot immediately produce enough cortisol to replace the missing drug.

Cortisol levels may not return to normal for several days or weeks.

Symptoms can occur when the body does not produce enough cortisol to compensate for the missing prednisone.

Prednisone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Aches in the body
  • A mood swing
  • Feeling weak
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Pain in the joints
  • Appetite loss

Withdrawal symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to several months after discontinuing the drug.

Things To Avoid While Taking Prednisone

Higher doses of Prednisone caused weight gain in so many patients [6]. It is so common that people face sudden weight gain issues after taking Prednisone for a long.

This is one of the issues that patients have to deal in an everyday basis. Dietitians and doctors suggest that you have to avoid foods with high carbohydrates.

Here is a list of foods you can avoid or consume as less as you can to prevent weight gain from Prednisone

  • Cakes
  • Sugary Foods
  • Burger
  • Pizza
  • Almost all sorts of fast and fried foods (cooked with too much oil)

However, not all carbohydrates are bad. Potatoes roasted or baked without butter or salt are healthy side dishes, and oatmeal is a good breakfast option.

Also, avoid these foods to avoid dehydration and other health complication while taking this drug:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Soda

Medicines Interact With Prednisone

Prednisone can interact with more than 533 medicines [7]; you do not have to worry about all of that cause you don’t consume all of them. And most of the interactions are mild.

Medicines that interact severely with Prednisone:

  • Lasix (furosemide)
  • Aspirin  (aspirin)

This is not a complete list; it is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor about what medications you are taking currently or if you have to take them while your Prednisone dose is also running.

Does Your Body Go Back To Normal After Prednisone?

In general, Yes. But if you have severe symptoms, you may need to taper off more slowly or return to your regular dose. It depends on your doctor. When you taper off prednisone, your doctor may order a blood test to measure your cortisol levels.

It is possible to experience psychological withdrawal symptoms for 2 to 8 weeks. Tapering off prednisone can also cause mild symptoms for a week or two.

Consult your doctor before taking OTC pain medicine or prescription medications.

How Long Does it Take To Get Prednisone Out Of Your System?

Prednisone takes only 16 hours to a day to get completely out of your system. But that’s not the fact. I’ve already discussed that Prednisone provides corticosteroid hormone to your body; now, after you stop taking it, your body lacks the hormone. It takes a few days or weeks for your body to fill the gap.

And remember that our body produces the same hormone. So even if you stop taking the drug, the body will keep providing it naturally when it is needed.

What Reduces The Side Effects of Prednisone?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding things like alcohol, caffeine, too much fat, and things already discussed in this article will help you a lot.

Unfortunately, if you are facing symptoms of side effects, there are things you can do to reduce them:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat healthy foods to help keep hydrated and nourished while taking prednisone.
  • Keep an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly
  • Exercise daily
  • Meditation/ Counseling

KEY POINT: The side effects of this medication can be unpleasant, but discontinuing it suddenly is not a good idea. Do not stop or decrease your dose without your doctor’s approval.

If you need to stop taking this medication for any reason, your doctor can instruct you to decrease your dose gradually.


COVID 19 and Prednisone

In a recent editorial, Dr. Paul M. Stewart and colleagues found that patients who take prednisone or other glucocorticoids are at high risk for developing complications if infected with COVID-19.

The body cannot mount an adequate response to a virus because prednisone decreases the body’s ability to fight infections.

Can You Take COVID 19 Vaccine while taking Prednisone?

Based on very recent evidence and study [8], you can take a vaccine or not while taking Prednisone (Cortecosteroide), depending on your dosage.

If you are taking less than a 20 mg dose of Prednisone (CS), you can take the vaccine safely. Evidence showed that people who take 20 mg or less of Prednisone could have a sufficient immune response to COVID 19 vaccines.

But if you are in a group of more than 20 mg doses of Prednisone (CS), it is recommended that you take the vaccine after one month to avoid side effects and increase effectiveness.

In case you are going for a longer period of dosage, your doctor may reduce the dose to 20 mg or less to get the vaccine. Talk to your doctor in detail about that.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If you think taking Prednisone is interfering with your daily activities or causing you difficulty in your daily life, you should consult your doctor.

Additionally, if any of the symptoms or side effects persist for a longer period of time, talk to your doctor who prescribes the medicine to you.

And also, before going for any surgery, adopting a new medicine, if you become pregnant or planning to become pregnant, developing new sickness, or even taking COVID 19 vaccines, talk to the doctor.

FAQ About Prednisone
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Having difficulty seeing
  • Pain, redness, or tearing in the eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Weight gain that occurs suddenly
  • Shortness of breath especially at night
  • Breathing or swallowing difficulties
  • A twitch or tightening of the muscles

Prednisone lowers the immune system’s activity. Your body’s immune system acts as a defense mechanism. In order to work, steroids slow the body’s reaction to disease or injury.

Fatty Foods, Alcohol, Caffeine, Soda and Certain Medications, Such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Lasix


Yes, but full recovery takes some time. It can take up to few weeks or even months in rare cases.

Prednisone treats diseases like:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blood disorders
  • Problems in breathing
  • Skin diseases
  • Cancer
  • Eye disease
  • Immune-related disease
  • Allergies, and more.

At first talk to your doctor. It depends on how much dosage of Prednisone you are taking.

Some evidence show that if you are taking below 20 mg, it is safe to take COVID 19 vaccine, but if you are taking higher or 20 mg, then you have to wait at least one month or reduce the dosage.

Dr. Tauhid Al Araf

Dr. Tauhid Al Araf

Hi, I’m Dr. Tauhid. I’ve completed my MBBS from Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College. After completing my BCS, now working as an Upazilla Health Complex Medical Officer. I'm on a mission to Spread awareness about using and misusing drugs has become so significant nowadays. This is one of my dream projects, hopefully, this gonna help people all around the world.

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