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Updated May 16, 2014

Prednisone Basics:

Prednisone is an adrenocortical steroid that has potent anti-inflammatory effects.

What Prednisone Is Used For:

Prednisone has a wide range of uses. In children, it is most commonly prescribed to treat asthma attacks, allergic reactions, poison ivy, arthritis (JRA), acute leukemia, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adrenocortical insufficiency, and nephrotic syndrome. It is also indicated for a variety of other endocrine, collagen, dermatologic, allergic, ophthalmic, respiratory, hematologic, neoplastic, edematous, gastrointestinal, and nervous system disorders.

Prednisone Facts:

Despite fears of side effects, misinformation, and confusion with anabolic steroids that are used by body builders, after the discovery of antibiotics, prednisone may be one of the more important types of medicines ever discovered.

Other important facts:

  • Prednisone is generic, so it is usually very inexpensive

  • brand names of prednisone include Deltasone

  • long term courses of prednisone are usually slowly tapered

  • the dose of prednisone varies depending on the illness that is being treated

  • taking prednisone with food or milk may help to decrease stomach pain or an upset stomach that some children get when taking this medicine

Forms Of Prednisone:

Many people think of the Medrol Pak when they think of prednisone, but that is actually methylprednisolone, a similar, althougth different corticosteroid.

  • Prednisone is available in a variety of pill sizes, from 2.5mg to 50mg
  • younger children who can't swallow pills are usually prescribed an oral steroid called prednisolone as Prelone or Orapred
  • children who need an injectable or IV form of steroid should receive methylprednisolone as Depo-Medrol or Solu-Medrol

Prednisone Side Effects:

The most common side effects of taking prednisone include muscle weakness, osteoporosis, fractures, Cushing's syndrome, pituitary-adrenal axis suppression, growth suppression, glucose intolerance, acne, edema, hypertension, hypokalemia, alkalosis, cataracts, glaucoma, peptic ulcer, nausea, vomiting, headache, vertigo, seizures, psychoses, pseudotumor cerebri, and skin atrophy. Some kids also develop mood swings, become irritable, and have trouble sleeping when they take prednisone.

Most side effects, especially growth suppression, edema, and immune system problems are going to be worse with long term use of Prednisone and less likely with the short term course that most children take for typical asthma attacks or for relief from poison ivy, etc.

What You Need To Know:

Although one of the more useful medicines in Pediatrics, especially when you see the dramatic effects prednisone has on a child with a severe asthma attack, it can have serious side effects when overused or misused and it should only be prescribed when it is really necessary.

Other important information:

  • your child should not take prednisone if he has a systemic fungal infection or has a known hypersensitivity to prednisone
  • call your Pediatrician if your child is taking prednisone and has been exposed to measles or chickenpox
  • if your child has asthma and is frequently taking prednisone, then he really should be on a daily preventative medicine, such as Advair, instead


Deltasone Prescribing Information Sheet.

Children's Medical Center Dallas Drug Formulary.

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