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What are the Most Common Prednisone Side Effects?

Prednisone might lead to insomnia with long-term use.
Intense chest or stomach pain is a less common side effect of prednisone.
Increased facial acne is a risk for some people taking prednisone.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 March 2014
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Prednisone is a corticosteroid that can be useful in the treatment of many diseases. It might be prescribed for long term use if people suffer from certain conditions like Crohn’s disease or lupus because it helps to reduce immune response and inflammation. The drug can also aid in treating short-term conditions like rashes or it can reduce swelling caused by things like concussion.

Unfortunately, there are many prednisone side effects. These can be felt initially or develop as the medication is used for longer periods of time. Most of these side effects will not be experienced by all users, but there are some common ones that tend to affect most people who use the medication. There are also rare and dangerous prednisone side effects of which people should be aware when they take this drug.

Some of the more common prednisone side effects include lowering of resistance to disease or even commonplace viruses, since prednisone reduces immune response. People may also note weight gain when they take this medication, water retention, and swelling, especially around the face and cheeks. Mood changes are common and some people become irritated or restless when they take prednisone also note an increase in appetite while taking this medication, and some prednisone users also observe an increase in facial acne or development of stretch marks.

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There are other prednisone side effects that are less common and usually associated with use over a longer period of time, and these can include stomach upset, disruption or changes in menstrual cycle, insomnia, and excess hair growth in women, particularly on the face and arms. Some people taking this medication may feel tired or have achy muscles, and others develop migraines or have mood disorders. It’s also possible to develop osteoporosis when on prednisone for long periods of time, and the medication has been shown to cause poor growth or stunted growth in kids who are on it long-term.

There are certain prednisone side effects that indicate potentially serious problems. Sometimes people will develop very high blood pressure, which can be life threatening. Blurring of the vision should definitely be reported to doctors. Though rare, prednisone may occasionally cause a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis, which is felt as severe pain in the upper stomach and chest, often accompanied by nausea or vomiting, and is a medically urgent condition. People should also watch for the presence of stools that look black or tarry, since these can indicate intestinal bleeding.

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Discuss this Article

anon941589
Post 35

I am 73, and started prednisone 10 mg Sept 2012 for acute onset of polymyalgia rheumatica. Affected shoulder girdle wrists hands both sides. Could barely walk, not walk upstairs or reach arms above about one foot. It took me 30 minutes to ease out of bed in the mornings. Prednisone has helped a lot. My dose has been reduced over five months to 7 mg daily.

Important for me to exercise daily. Walk one to two miles and work a class of silver sneakers twice weekly.

Also researched anti inflammatory diets (vegetarian 80 percent) and eat 6 time daily small portions. I drink about 80 ounces tea, coffee and water daily. I am improving slowly. The persistent side effects are sleeplessness, and being tired at end of day. The morning stiffness eases after two hours.

anon349054
Post 34

My husband was put on prednisone about two months ago for organized pneumonia. the doctor put him on 50mgs once a day. He has been experiencing awful stomach aches, a sore back, mood swings, is tired all the time, and his right side is sore all the time with lots of pain. He also has lost about 17 pounds and now is having blurred vision. He also has been in contact with someone who had tuberculosis, so is also on TB medication for nine months.

We don't really know if the two medications are interacting with each other, so his lung specialist is weaning him off the prednisone now to 25mgs a day. He also has to go for a lung biopsy to see why his lungs are not getting any better after being on that horrible drug.

The doctor really never explained how really bad the side effects can be. He explained a little, but never would have gone on the prednisone and would have done the biopsy first. I just hope everyone out there starts feeling better and they should try to get a better medication with fewer side effects. My heart goes out to all of you who have been feeling so sick. I know. I watch my husband go through hell every day. He also has missed a couple days of work because of all the problems he has been having.

anon343178
Post 33

I am taking this drug for poison ivy and my face gets all red and puffy, and feels like I've got a bad sunburn! I don't think I will take the rest of these pills. My stomach is fat and full. I feel like a blimp!

anon342290
Post 32

My 9 year old was given prednisone 5ml (liquid) twice a day for five days, and she started to complain within 24 hours of aching legs and insomnia. Also, she just wasn't feeling well or like her usual outgoing self. The muscle aches increased to the point of her not being able to walk. She describes the pain as a stretching or pulling in her thighs radiating down to her ankles causing a burning pain.

She was admitted into the hospital and transferred to a children's hospital. Every lab and MRI came back normal. She has spasms in her legs that cause her to cry and become hysterical. The spasms showed on the MRI as well as during examinations. At the initial exam, she had little to no reflexes in her lower limbs. Yesterday we were told by a neurologist that she has anxiety and it is not a medical or physical problem! (Really?) It took everything in me to remain professional. In other words, he was saying that the pain, muscle weakness, spasms and inability to walk were all in her head! Now why would an outgoing, very active 9 year old who is a dancer, a Girl Scout, the baby of the family, make up pain during her summer vacation? Needless to say, the two attending doctors and the nurses were livid with him!

Ultimately, she was diagnosed yesterday with steroid induced myopathy and will need physical therapy to regain the use of her legs. By the way, the pain was so severe she had to be given morphine at 9 years old! Did I forget to mention that four years ago, she had some leg pain and issues and was also on prednisone but I didn't make the connection until this time! Medical coincidence? I think not! This is a horrible, dangerous medication and its side effects far outweigh its benefits, if you ask me!

anon332094
Post 30

I've been on prednisone on/off for three years. I don't like the side effects, but it sure beats dying from breathing problems and vasculitis.

anon325702
Post 29

I was prescribed this by a doctor at the Rapid Response I went to this past week. I went due to the fact that my tonsils and uvula had swelled and were preventing me from being able to do much more then breathe, along with antibiotics for strep (no soar throat or coughing or anything). I was starting to feel better, but I started to feel sick to the stomach and aches in my chest and back. I was told that it was because I was borderline anorexic and that I was having to eat more while on the medicine causing the aches.

Then I passed out two times in the past couple days. Most said I just leaned back in the chair I was in and was just gone.

My natural anxiety is up, my paranoia is driving me nuts and I am feel like someone peed in my cheerios and absconded with my wallet. Also, my sense of time is messed up a bit. I just noticed it was after 11:00. I started writing this at 10:15 or so I think.

anon322556
Post 28

After I finish a dose of four weeks, because of IBS, my hip or knee will fill with fluid and I cannot walk until I take the prednisolone again. I never had this issue until I took prednisolone.

anon316198
Post 27

I have been taking prednisone since January 22 and tomorrow is my last day. I don't want to take it tomorrow because my body needs a break. I am going to take it on Thursday. Would that be a problem?

anon310921
Post 26

@anon310728: This is my first day on prednisone, and I also have anxiety. I feel like it has made it 100 percent worse. It is 2:00 a.m. in the morning and I can't go to sleep. I can't slow my breathing down. I sure hope this passes!

anon310728
Post 25

I recently was put on prednisone twice in a month for bronchitis. One was for five days or so and just 10mg. The second started at 50 mg in the ER and then 40 mg 3x, 30 mg 3x, 20 mg 3x and finally 10 mg 3x. I have been off for three days. I still have sinus drainage and hoarse voice and I have been having a lot of gas and lack of appetite. My tooth which had hurt before I went on prednisone has started to hurt again. My body ached but only for one day and quit.

I hope this is a sign that the stuff is getting out of my system now. I would like from anyone with some insight into this as far as does this sound like the side effects are coming off like the sleeplessness and anxiety already have for the most part. And how long can I expect to have some effects from the evil drug. My time on it all together was about three weeks, so I hope this is short enough to make it leave me soon.

moto058
Post 24

I am really sorry to hear about all of your negative reactions. I was put on prednisone for low back pain that radiates down the leg to where I cannot walk.

I have taken oxycontin 80mg three times a day and oxycodone 30 mg for breakthrough pain. Since I have been on the prednisone (1.5 weeks), it works better than all pain pills. I take two 20mg a day with no side effects yet.

After reading these posts, is this something I should expect with continued use? It has been the best medication I have taken for my back in 25 years. Again, I am sorry to hear about the problems you all are having.

anon303292
Post 23

I have been on prednisone 20mg. for the past four months due to inflammation in my lungs. I have gained eight pounds and my sugar levels have increased. I have blurry vision as well. Just two days ago I started to develop thin skin and a couple of bruises.

The doctor just told me I should be getting off the medication by January. He says I am doing really well.

anon301805
Post 22

My mother is on a small prednisone dose, like 5mcg, I think. She had all kinds of issues. She lost vision in one eye and is having heart problems, so she got a pacemaker. She is still having heart problems. I do not think she can make it to 65. She is just 60 now. I hate this prednisone.

anon289543
Post 21

I took prednisone for IBS, then got shots for fibromyalgia and arthritis. I've developed thin skin and bleed easily. I also develop blood like blisters on skin from even a scratch or nothing at all. The blood comes to top of skin but doesn't break it. Does anyone else have this happen?

anon286024
Post 20

I have pemphigus vulgaris and have been on prednisone for five years. I have all the side effects. I feel I am not getting have enough oxygen and I'm depressed and scared. There's no hope of getting off it.

anon283653
Post 19

I have been on prednisolone for a week, and took it a couple of weeks ago for severe asthma. Now my hands and feet are unbearably itchy, my face is swollen and I feel awful generally. This drug isn't worth the hassle, but as soon as I stop taking it my asthma returns. I don't understand why this drug is on the market, to be honest. My doctor didn't warn me of any of these effects.

anon283219
Post 18

I've been taking prednisone for an allergic reaction to nickel. My arms feel weak, and I still itch, they also put me on famotidine and the combination was unbearable. The tips of my fingers are red I'm sure that's my blood pressure. I can't stop eating, have horrible mood swings and I feel like I'm pregnant. Also, I have told them I had a polyp in my gal bladder which could possibly be infected.

This drug is no good, and now besides the fact I have $1,000 per bill, I'm back to being itchy and miserable. If they are going to give out medications that can spread infections, they should really make sure people don't have one before taking this medication.

anon274958
Post 17

how long does the blurred vision last. I am on day two after no more prednisone and still have blurred vision.

anon258555
Post 16

I was on the predinsone for about two months. Since being on the drug and now have been off it for about three weeks, my lower back is bad, I have gained 20 pounds, my feet are swollen and my legs feel like dead weight. I have difficulty walking without resting every few steps. What should I do? I am going back to the doctor today. --New Jersey

anon234217
Post 15

I took prednisone for gout. Took it in September for about a month, 5 mg tablets, 6-6, 5-5, etc. I experienced several side effects, including muscle weakness in back (gone in about 10 days after I came off the drug) disoriented for a couple of days, increased appetite for a week, cold sweats for several nights. I also had blurred vision, which still hasn't quite gone totally away after seven weeks. I am surprised this drug is still on the market.

It seems to me if the medical profession is so grand, it could come up with a medicine that doesn't harm you as much as help you.

anon182802
Post 14

I was diagnosed with polyps on both sides of my nose and was advised to take this drug for five days. so i took one last night and i am now feeling muscle pain. I'm considering not continuing my doctor's advice.

indigo
Post 12

My mother was on prednisone for inflammation in her lungs. She died 5 weeks after the initial dose, the day after the staff at the nursing home found blood in her stool. Could prednisone have caused bleeding in her intestines?

anon160480
Post 10

My mother has been on prednisone for nearly 35 years, due to chronic allergic asthma. She suffered all the usual symptoms but there is far more when it is taken long term.

Don't take this drug if you can help it! It is killing her now, by weakening her veins and arteries (she had heart bypass surgery because of it). It is now affecting the transfer of oxygen into her blood stream, giving her hypoxemia and necessitating blood transfusions. It has taken at least 20 years off her life. She is only 75 and she has the body of a 100 year old person!

anon159920
Post 9

I have been on prednisone since February. I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and was wheezing so bad and had to be put on the steroid injections to keep my lungs open.

I was in the hospital nine days and still have not been able to return to work. I had to be put on a very high dose of steroids when I was released from the hospital. I had to continue taking and my last day was today.

They cannot stop the steroids or your body will go in shock and you will end up in the ICU. I know I have asthma from the pneumonia. I too have experienced horrible side effects, anxiousness, insomnia, horrible muscle pain, muscle spasms, stomach upset, and now the for the past three days, blurred vision. I go back to the doctor tomorrow for a follow up. Has anyone else experienced blurred vision?

anon158609
Post 8

I took 20 mg for a sinus infection with complications from my asthma. I will not take it again unless absolutely necessary. Even with the tapering off I have had side effects. I have had dizzy spells, blurred vision, insomnia, increased appetite, swelling of my face, and now acne (I have been off it a week.) I also had abdominal pains and muscle aches.

anon149295
Post 7

I have been taking prednisone for the past week now, I'm actually on my last pill and i couldn't go to work today. i felt sick and my muscles really hurt. I had to take it cause i have Bells Palsy, so it's been pretty crazy.

With having a six month old baby girl and working, I had to give myself a break. this drug was messing with my moods and just causing problems. I don't ever want to take it again. i would want to get away from everyone for about a week to myself. I've been having rapid mood changes, bad headaches, really hungry all the time, and just not a fun person to be around.

anon148937
Post 6

i am 23 and suffer from oral-facial-glanunomitosis. i was prescribed prednisone when i was 18 and was never told the side effects until i went to the doctor for my weight gain about two years later.

I have deep stretch marks, had facial hair growth, acne, sore muscles in my shoulders and neck, depression, very harsh mood swings, massive swelling of the knees and face that i could barely walk, as well as tooth aches and irregular sleep patterns. My partner and i are having difficulties conceiving a baby. I don't wish this upon anyone.

anon139825
Post 5

I have been a long time user of prednisone and over the last four years I have seen severe side effects: hair growth on my face (I am a woman) and extreme neck pain when I take the drug and blurred vision/focus which I have recently been given glasses for. My liver count is always high due to the prednisone also and I suffered from severe deep purple stretch marks across both my thighs. Not a good drug to take unless absolutely necessary!

anon107548
Post 4

This is a bad drug and it should be taken off the market. Someone died from this drug when she came down with neuropathy, and could not walk anymore.

anon104736
Post 3

I have been on prednisone 10mg/daily for nearly two years now for RA with next to no side effects. I also take vitamin D and calcium to reduce the negative effects on bone density and visit the eye specialist once a year to check on any possible eye problems.

anon60292
Post 2

My daughter-in-law has a lupus illness. She is taking up Prednisone for about a year now. Now she is having problem of muscle pain and barely can't walk. Does this mean that her bone is getting brittle?

anon56255
Post 1

I've been prescribed prednisone and an antihistamine five days ago for an allergic reaction. I was very itchy because of something I ate. I have developed a rash all over my body, neck, arms and legs.

Now my arms are swelling up. Is this a normal side effect, and should I go back and get reassessed by the doctor? This is hell.

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