Long-Term Side Effects of Prednisone

Prednisone is a type of medication called a glucocorticoid or a corticosteroid. These kinds of medications have nothing to do with anabolic steroids used by athletes. Instead, they are used to treat inflammation.

Among the many roles prednisone plays in various different diseases, it has a role in anti-cancer therapy, specifically in combination chemotherapy regimens like R-CHOP (the P is prednisone) and sometimes used long-term in the aftermath of a bone marrow transplantation.

In the latter case, prednisone may be taken for several months or longer, and generally patients come to hate the drug because of its many long-term side effects.

Long-Term Side Effects of Prednisone

Let's take a look at some of those potential long-term effects, keeping in mind that these tend to be rare occurrences. When they do happen, patients don't experience all of them; rather they might experience one or two of them if any at all.

Weight

Prednisone can cause an increased appetite, along with fluid retention, leading to weight gain and, in some cases, changes in one's body shape.

It can also increase one's blood sugar level, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Vision

Long-term use of prednisone can lead to early cataracts as well as glaucoma.

Mental Health

Changes in mood can be common, in part because in some people prednisone leaves them feeling amped up and unable to sleep.

On the other end of the spectrum, some patients report depression. Psychosis has also been reported in patients taking more than 20 mg daily for an extended period of time.

Adrenal Suppression

Our bodies naturally produce steroids in the adrenal gland, but if the body is receiving prednisone from an exterior source for an extended period of time, the consequence can be that the body will shut down its production of steroids.

When this happens, the body has trouble responding to situations of high stress with its own steroids. Consequently, these patients face hypotension, metabolic imbalances in the blood, and other issues that can leave them very sick.

Photo: Pexels

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