Prednisone side effects
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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The adrenal glands manufacture endogenous (meaning, coming from the self) glucocorticoids (steroids).
Taking glucocorticoids orally or intravenously can reduce the ability of the person’s own adrenal glands to continue to manufacture glucocorticoids.
Without being able to increase steroid production in the face of stressors such as injury, infection, and surgery, a patient can go into shock.
The odds of the adrenal glands being suppressed increase as the dose of exogenous steroid exceeds the average daily output of the adrenal glands which is equivalent to 5.0-7.5 mg prednisone, the therapy continues for more than a few weeks or months, doses are given late in the day or in split doses, or long-acting corticosteroid preparations are used.
Taking steroids on an alternate day (every other day) schedule lessens the chance of adrenal insufficiency but does not eliminate it.
Other side-effects include:
• Increased risk of bacterial or opportunistic infections such as fungi, tuberculosis, pneumocystis carinii
• Elevated blood sugar
• Fat distribution changes leading to moon face, buffalo hump
• Elevated blood lipids
• Aggravation of hypertension
• Electrolyte abnormalities such as low blood potassium
• Fluid retention leading to edema
• Easy bruisibility
• Increased body hair
• Increased sweating
• Purple stretch marks
• Impaired wound healing
• Muscle wasting
• Stomach ulcers
• Osteonecrosis (bone death)
• Bowel perforation
• Masking of infection
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