Prednisone is a synthetic hormone commonly referred to as a "steroid". Prednisone is very similar to cortisone, a natural corticosteroid hormone produced by the body's adrenal glands.
Prednisone is used for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, diseases that cause inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), other types of arthritis, and for many other types of diseases.
Prednisone suppresses the body's immune system and also works to reduce inflammation that people experience as heat, redness, swelling, and pain.
Corticosteroids like prednisone are very different from anabolic steroids, the risky steroids related to male hormones that some athletes abuse for performance gains in sports and bodybuilding.
Prednisone is usually available as oral tablets. Other medications that are similar to Prednisone called corticosteroids may be given by injection.
Prednisone is often best taken in the morning with breakfast. This schedule mimics the body's natural production of corticosteroid hormones.
Most patients start to feel the effects of prednisone within a few days. Some patients will start feeling better hours after taking the first pill.
Important Tests and Risks
Prednisone has a number of potential side effects. Not all patients who take prednisone experience these side-effects.
Side-effects are often related to the dose and the length of time that a given patient has been taking this medicine. Higher doses taken for long periods of time are be more likely to cause side-effects than short courses of lower dose prednisone.
Watch Canadian rheumatologist Dr. Andy Thompson introduce Prednisone in this short video: