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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Prednisone

Written by maria_rn, FoundHealth.

Steroid medications such as prednisone enter cells and bind to a receptor. This decreases the release of chemicals in the body which cause inflammation. Prednisone can also replace the body’s natural-occuring steroid which can be diminished by the damaging inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Effect of Prednisone on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Corticosteroids are naturaly-occuring substances produced by the adrenal glands. Corticosteroid medications have potent anti-inflammatory properties, and are used in a wide range of conditions including arthritis and allergies. They are available in many preparations including tablets, capsules, liquids, topical creams and gels, inhalers, eye drops, as well as injectable and intravenous solutions. For treating rheumatoid arthritis, corticisteroids may be given intraarticularly or systemically. Corticosteroids are given for the rapid relief of acute RA symptoms, but they are also used as temporary adjunctive therapy while waiting for DMARDs to take effect.

Read more details about Prednisone.

How to Use Prednisone

Prednisone is used to treat many conditions such as allergies, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

Dosage requirements of corticosteroids vary among individuals and their diseases. Patients are usually treated with the lowest possible effective dose. For rheumatoid arthritis, the usual adult dose is 5 to 10mg daily. If used as and anti-inflammatory for pediatric patients, the usual daily dose is 0.05 to 2 mg/kg given up to 4 times daily. Prednisone pills should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset. When discontinuing after prolonged therapy, the dose must be tapered to allow the adrenal glands time to recover.

What are the precautions when taking this medicine?

• If you have been taking this medicine for several weeks, talk with healthcare provider before stopping. You may want to gradually withdraw this medicine.

• Do not run out of this medicine.

• Wear disease medical alert identification.

• Talk with healthcare provider before receiving any vaccinations. Use with this medicine may either increase the risk of serious infection or make the vaccination less effective.

• Avoid exposure to chickenpox and measles.

• Do not take antacids within 2 hours of this medicine.

• If you have diabetes, talk with healthcare provider. This medicine can increase blood sugar.

• If you have glaucoma or cataracts, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you have high blood pressure, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you are being treated for any infection, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you have osteoporosis, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you have stomach ulcers, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you have tuberculosis, talk with healthcare provider.

• If you have a weakened heart, talk with healthcare provider.

• Tell dentists, surgeons, and other healthcare providers that you use this medicine.

• Check medicines with healthcare provider. This medicine may not mix well with other medicines.

• Avoid alcohol (includes wine, beer, and liquor).

• Tell healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.

• Tell healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding.

What are some possible side effects of this medicine?

• High blood sugar. Usually reverses when stopped.

• Risk of infection. Avoid people with infections, colds, or flu.

• Belly pain.

• Nausea or vomiting. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking hard, sugar-free candy, or chewing sugar-free gum may help.

• Weight gain.

• Mood changes.

• Change in body fat distribution.

• Weakened bones with long-term use.

• Muscle weakness.

• Skin changes (acne, stretch marks, slow healing, hair growth).

• Cataracts or glaucoma with long-term use.

• For females, vaginal yeast infection. Report itching or discharge.

Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately

• If you suspect an overdose, call your local poison control center or emergency department immediately.

• Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.

• Signs or symptoms of infection. These include a fever of 100.5 degrees or higher, chills, severe sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, increased sputum or change in color, painful urination, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, or anal itching or pain.

• Feeling extremely tired, weak, or irritable; trembling; having a fast heartbeat, confusion, sweating, or dizziness if you missed a dose or recently stopped this medicine.

• Difficulty breathing.

• Severe nausea or vomiting.

• Significant weight gain.

• Sudden change in vision.

• If exposure to chickenpox has occurred and you have not had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it.

• Any rash.

• No improvement in condition or feeling worse.

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