Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Prednisone - Cortisol's Role in your Immune System

Prednisone is a life-saving medication for many serious medical disorders; certain conditions require the ministration of anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications such as prednisone. Here are some facts of which you should be aware before you begin your treatment:
Prednisone suppresses the immune system
There are some conditions which require immune system inhibition. Medical circumstances that cause the immune system to attack the body's own tissues, such as organ transplants rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, require corticosteroids such as prednisone.
However, if the medication is taken for a long period of time, it can cause the body's immune system to weaken, and result in weight gain, infection, weak bones, ulcers and abdominal pain. If you have been prescribed prednisone and are experiencing the above symptoms or dizziness, confusion, psychiatric disorders or blurred vision, consult your doctor immediately so that your dosage can be adjusted.
Prednisone takes effect quickly
The anti-inflammatory properties occur more quickly through the use of the corticosteroid prednisone than they do with other drug treatments, and they are often given to patients for immediate relief before other medications take full effect.
Joint damage and pain can be reduced
Patients suffering from chronic joint pain from arthritis can benefit from prednisone treatment due to its capacity to slow joint damage when taken in small doses. However, when taken in large doses for a long period of time there is the possibility of joint stiffness and pain.
Patients should not stop taking prednisone suddenly
Because prednisone mimics hormone production from the adrenal glands, the adrenal glands can begin to atrophy and cease producing hormones after a long period of time on the drug. In order to prevent total gland failure, it is important to taper off of the medication slowly rather than stop immediately.
Side effects of prednisone
Most patients will not require heavy doses of prednisone, and therefore will likely not experience particularly noticeable side effects. However, patients that have been given larger doses might experience the following:
  • Excessive body hair growth (hirsutism)
  • Weight gain - notably the accumulation and redistribution of fat pads on certain parts of the body
  • Mild to moderate acne
  • High blood sugar
  • Fungal infections of the mouth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stretch marks
  • Cataracts
  • High Blood Pressure
Prednisone can also interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications and vaccinations, as well as interact with certain hormone therapies (estrogen) in such a way as to compromise prednisone's ability to function properly. It is important to go over all conditions for which you currently receive treatment so that your doctor can make the appropriate adjustments to your medications.
Additionally, if you believe you may become pregnant or are trying to become pregnant and are taking prednisone, make sure to alert your physician, as prednisone may, in rare cases, cause the birth defect cleft palate.

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