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Side EffectsPrednisone (Corticosteroids)

Last update: 09/01/2010


Corticosteroids | Side Effects | Resources and Research News

Related PubMed Abstracts: Corticosteroids AND Lymphocytes AND Apoptosis

Corticosteroids, including Prednisone, Prednisolone, Methylprednisolone and Dexamethasone are a group of synthetic hormones closely related to cortisol (a glucocorticoid), a natural hormone produced in the adrenal cortex. Sometimes referred to as steroids

Uses: The treatment of lymphomas and other blood cancers. It is also used to suppress graft versus host disease, a condition that is associated with stem cell transplant. When used in combination with chemotherapy, steroids may enhance the killing of lymphoma cells, and also help mitigate (reduce) fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy.

Common side-effects: Increased risk of infection, increases in blood pressure, peptic ulcers, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and depression. 

What does natural cortisol do?  Manages the salt/water balance in the body, regulates stress, regulates carbohydrates, fat, and protein metabolism.

Mechanism related to lymphoma treatment: Corticosteroids, and drugs that mimic them, reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. These drugs also impede or directly reduce the number of white blood cells by inducing apoptosis

Apoptosis - overview

Possible Side Effects

Side effects depend on dose and duration. Side effects can be minimized by following your doctor's directions and following the prescribed dose, and weaning instructions when coming off these powerful drugs. 

bullet Acne
bullet Adrenal suppression and crisis
bullet Appetite increase; weight gain 
bullet Cataracts
bullet Diabetes
bullet Fat deposits in face, chest, stomach, and upper back
bullet High blood pressure
bullet Infection -- susceptibility to
bullet Muscle weakness
bullet Osteoporosis
bullet Psychological problems such as depression
bullet Stomach ulcers
bullet Thinning of the skin
bullet Weight gain

Coming off corticosteroids

Your doctor may advise you to gradually reduce the dose of corticosteroids to allow the adrenal glands to resume natural cortisol production. Stopping abruptly can can result in adrenal insufficiency.

When corticosteroids are taken in low doses for long periods of time, gradual tapering might be advised for months or years -- lowered by as little as one milligram at a time. 

About steroid withdrawal syndrome (rebound effect) -- This is an exaggerated response to removal of the drug. Can result in muscle pain, fever, and joint pain. Rebound effects can make it difficult for your doctor to distinguish between the disease and withdrawal symptoms. 

Recommended Resources

  1. About Corticosteriods  About.com 
  2. Corticosteroids, Cancer.org  PDF 
  3. Steroid withdrawal  medicinenet.com
  4. Potential side effects of prednisone drugs.com


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Resources and Research News

Corticosteroides  cancer.org > PDF 
Inflammatory response  jdaross.cwc.net 
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For all medical concerns, you should always consult your doctor. 
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