Common brand names:
Deltasone, Meticorten, Orasone, Prednicien-M, Prednisone Intensol, Sterapred DS
Why is this drug prescribed?
Classified as a corticosteroid or a steroid hormone, prednisone is similar to the steroid hormone your body produces naturally. Prednisone might be given along with other immunosuppressive medicines to prevent and treat rejection.
The body’s immune system protects you from infection. Immune cells recognize the transplanted kidney as different from the rest of the body and attempt to destroy it. This is called rejection and it is your body’s way of not accepting the new organ.
How and when should prednisone be taken?
Prednisone is available in many generic brands and in several dosages. Generally, you will be prescribed the 5 mg tablets that can be easily broken in half if necessary.
Your prescription label tells you how much to take at each dose and how often to take the medicine. Follow these instructions carefully, and ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain anything you do not understand.
Once prescribed prednisone, your doctor will gradually decrease the prednisone dosage over a period of time (generally 6 months) until the permanent dosage is achieved. This type of program is called a taper schedule. Taper schedules are individualized to meet each person’s special needs. Never change the dose of your prednisone without the advice of your doctor.
It is important that you take this medicine regularly as prescribed. Do not stop taking it. You will need to take immunosuppressant drugs every day for the rest of your life to prevent rejection.
Your health care provider might reduce or even stop prednisone when you are being treated for certain infections. This allows your body to effectively fight the infection.
What special instructions should I follow while using this drug?
- You must take all of the prescribed amount of prednisone to maintain enough immunosuppression to prevent rejection. Follow your dosage schedule carefully.
- Be sure that you always have enough medicine on hand. Check your supply before holidays or other occasions when you might be unable to fill your prescription.
- Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so your response to the drug can be monitored.
- Do not have any immunizations or vaccinations without your doctor’s approval.
- Do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine. Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of this drug and cause serious side effects.
- Do not take any new medicines (prescription or non-prescription) without notifying the Transplant Team first. Several drugs might interfere with the effectiveness of prednisone.
- Try to avoid infection while taking this medicine.
What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and then return to your regular dosage schedule. Do not take a double dose.
What are the common side effects of this drug?
Even though the side effects of prednisone could be very serious, remember that this drug is necessary to prevent rejection. Precautions will be taken to detect these side effects and treat them before they become harmful.
Please see the guidelines below to reduce side effects while taking prednisone.
Prednisone might cause dose-related side effects, which will subside as your dosage is reduced. If any of the following symptoms occur, report them to your healthcare provider.
- High blood pressure
- Increased appetite: Increased appetite might result in weight gain. This medicine alters brain chemicals, which can increase hunger and fluid retention.
- Steroid-induced diabetes: This might result from high doses of prednisone, which might or might not require treatment. If you currently have diabetes, you might have to adjust your medicine dosage to control your blood sugar.
- Vision changes, cataracts, or glaucoma
- Skin changes including acne, easy bruising, thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and increased sensitivity
- Excess hair growth on the face, back, arms, and legs
- Increased swelling of the face, hands, or ankles
- Mouth sores
What can I do to reduce the side effects of steroid medicines?
To reduce troublesome side effects, your dosage might be decreased as soon as it is safe. In the meantime, there are some daily practices that can help you prevent or decrease the side effects of prednisone. Eat well-balanced meals to avoid excess weight gain and to lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers, and bone and muscle problems, such as osteoporosis. In addition, decrease your salt intake. In addition, there are other ways you can prevent or decrease side effects of prednisone:
|High blood pressure
||This is caused by increased fluid retention. Take your medicine as prescribed, and reduce the amount of salt and fluid in your diet. Also, measure your blood pressure and record it every day. Ask your healthcare provider what your blood pressure range should be.|
|Increased appetite, excess weight gain
||Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals, and visit a dietitian regularly to discuss ways you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.|
||If you formerly controlled your pre-existing diabetes without medicine, you might now need to take insulin or pills to control diabetes.|
|Vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma
||Visit an ophthalmologist yearly.|
||Practice good hygiene. Wash your face with an antibacterial soap to control acne and reduce the risk of infection. Avoid soaps with lanolin or cold cream, which tend to clog pores. Acne might be controlled with medicines such as benzoyl peroxide (Clearasil). Acne subsides when your dosage is lowered.|
|Excess hair growth
||To remove unwanted hair, use safe bleaching techniques or creams.|
||Avoid accidental bumps and cuts by taking extra safety precautions before beginning any task.|
||Avoid the sun whenever possible. When outdoors, wear a sunblock with to the sun an SPF of at least 15. Report any skin changes to your doctor.|
|Increased swelling of the face, hands, or ankles
||Swelling is caused by fluid retention. Watch weight gain. Swelling will subside in 3 to 4 months if weight is maintained.|
||Practice good oral hygiene to prevent mouth sores and oral infections. Report any sores to your health care provider. Visit your dentist every 6 months, and notify your transplant doctor before any dental procedures.|
|Stomach irritation, ulcers
||Take your medicine after meals (with a full stomach) and use antacids (as directed) between meals. Report any stomach problems to your healthcare provider.|
||Try relaxation techniques.|
|Increased risk of infection
||Avoid anyone who might have an infection and report any signs or symptoms of infection to your doctor or nurse.|
|Joint pain, increased risk of osteoporosis
||Avoid gaining excess weight and include low-impact exercises in your daily schedule to avoid a possible need for joint replacement.|
- Stomach irritation or ulcers
- Mood swings and depression
- Joint pain and muscle weakness
- Increased risk of infection
- Increased risk of developing osteoporosis
What storage conditions are necessary for this drug?
- Store this medicine at room temperature. DO NOT store this medicine in direct heat or light.
- DO NOT store this medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture might cause it to break down.
- Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly sealed.
- Do not use this medicine after the expiration date on the bottle.
- Keep this and other medicines out of the reach of children.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these warning signs of infection:
- Fever over 100°F (38°C )
- Sweats or chills
- Skin rash
- Pain, tenderness, redness or swelling
- Wound or cut that won't heal
- Red, warm, or drainage sore
- Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when swallowing
- Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along upper cheekbones
- Persistent dry or moist cough that lasts more than two days
- White patches in your mouth or on your tongue
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, headache, or fatigue) or generally feeling "lousy"
- Trouble urinating, pain or burning, constant urge or frequent urination
- Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine, or black, tarry stools
Also contact your health care provider if you have any other symptoms that cause concern or if you have any questions.