Prednisone: the Good and the Bad
Prolonged use of prednisone results in
Hi, I’m Dr. Bob Lahita, Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey and Professor of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. I’m going to talk to you about the use of corticosteroids, better know as cortisone or prednisone.This compound is produced naturally by the adrenal gland of the body and is one of the fight or flight hormones. We take prednisone or cortisone for any number of inflammatory conditions because one of its benefits is it’s a strong anti-inflammatory agent.Now, in arthritis, the use of cortisone or prednisone is common, but there are a few problems with taking it over long periods of time. A short dose of prednisone or cortisone is okay. This allows patients to live without joint pain, and to lower your fever, and to decrease inflammation around cuts, bruises and lesions; to decrease the intracranial pressure in head injuries.However, everything is a trade off. The prolonged use of these drugs, while beneficial, result in all sorts of side effects, and you need to know about these side effects. Some of these are thinning of the hair; increased appetite; weight gain; accumulation of fluid; deposition of fat in various places such as lower portion of the neck - we call this sometimes a buffalo hump; also striae, or stripes along the body that are purple in color.I should also mention easy bruisability, and for most patients who are on cortisone or prednisone for long periods, you can get osteoporosis. Starting off with osteopenia, which is loss of calcium in bones, going on to osteoporosis, or actual loss of significant amounts of calcium in the bone with the potential for actually having the bones break going forward. For those of you who use the drug chronically, these can be very, very bad effects.For more about this, you can go to About.com.