What Are the Long-Term Effects of Prednisone?

C.B. Fox

The most common of the long-term effects of prednisone is that it can relieve the symptoms of the disorder it is prescribed to treat, such as allergic reactions, arthritis and lupus. Aside from this desired effect, there are also a number of undesirable long-term effects that can adversely affect a patient's health. Prednisone can affect many systems in the body, including the bones, skin, eyes, immune system and digestive system. The chances of developing a serious condition increases with long-term use, though most patients do not experience any of these possible effects.

A patient's musculoskeletal system may be affected by long-term use of prednisone, and may lead to osteoporosis.
A patient's musculoskeletal system may be affected by long-term use of prednisone, and may lead to osteoporosis.

Patients with certain inflammatory conditions may be prescribed prednisone. The positive, long-term effects of prednisone include decreased inflammation and irritation in various parts of the body, including the lungs, joints and skin. This can relieve the symptoms of many chronic conditions and give a person the opportunity to heal.

Taking corticosteroids such as prednisone may cause high blood pressure.
Taking corticosteroids such as prednisone may cause high blood pressure.

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Many of the possible long-term effects of prednisone adversely affect a patient's body. This drug has been known to affect the reproductive systems of both men and women. In women, prednisone can cause irregular periods. In men, impotence has been associated with long-term use of the drug.

Prednisone can affect many systems in the body, including the bones, skin, eyes, immune system and digestive system.
Prednisone can affect many systems in the body, including the bones, skin, eyes, immune system and digestive system.

There are a number of long-term effects of taking prednisone that can damage a patient's eyes, as well. The use of this drug can lead to cataracts or glaucoma. Left untreated, these conditions can cause partial or full blindness that is irreversible.

Because prednisone can affect the adrenal glands' production of cortisol, stopping the drug can cause adrenal insufficiency.
Because prednisone can affect the adrenal glands' production of cortisol, stopping the drug can cause adrenal insufficiency.

Prednisone also has the ability to interfere with body chemistry, making it difficult for the body to balance certain hormones. In particular, prednisone can interfere with the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. This is a system that regulates many things in the body, including digestion, stress, immune response and mood. Using prednisone for a long time can lead to problems with a person's ability to balance these hormones, which can then create problems in any of the systems these hormones regulate.

A patient's musculoskeletal system can also be affected by long-term use of prednisone. Muscular weakness can occur, as can a thinning of the bones leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fracture. Many of these conditions can be kept in check through dietary supplements and other medications. In children, one of the long-term effects of prednisone can be stunted growth, which needs to be carefully monitored by a doctor.

Long-term use of prednisone may lead to glaucoma and cataracts.
Long-term use of prednisone may lead to glaucoma and cataracts.

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Discussion Comments

anon1002189

I have been on Prednisone for about five years now, for my Polymyalgia. I have started experiencing shortness of breath. Vould this be associated with being on Prednisone long term?

candyquilt

All medications have side effects and prednisone is not a medication that's given for minor issues. It's given for severe conditions that are painful or debilitating for a person.

I have polymyalgia rheumatica and I feel like prednisone saved my life. I've been on it for a while now and my pain is completely gone. I suffered a lot before I was diagnosed this medication.

Of course, I have some side effects but those are nothing in comparison to the problems I had before. As soon as I'm able to withdraw from the medication, I will with the help of my doctor.

fify

@ZipLine-- You're right. But I heard that if calcium supplements are taken during prednisone treatment, damage to bones can be prevented. I'm not sure if this is true though.

ZipLine

It's not good to use prednisone for a long period of time. Not only does long term use make withdrawal more difficult, it can also lead to muscle and bone problems. I have a friend who has osteoporosis because of prednisone. He was on the medication for a long time for Crohn's disease. But the cure turned out to be worse than the ailment.

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