How to reduce prednisone withdrawal symptoms

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Prednisone is a synthetic (man-made) steroid that relieves inflammation. It is used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis , asthma , severe allergies , and other conditions. Like other corticosteroids , prednisone reduces the activity of the immune system .

Prednisone should be taken as directed by your healthcare professional. If you have been prescribed prednisone for more than a few weeks, you will need to reduce your dose. This means that you slowly reduce the dose until you can stop taking the medicine completely. Not taking prednisone right away can cause side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

This article explains how prednisone works and why it is important to follow your doctor's instructions for reducing prednisone.

Get Medical Information / Emily Roberts

Why is it necessary to narrow

Prednisone is similar to cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands . Cortisol is a steroid involved in the regulation of many body systems, including metabolism and immunity. It plays a key role in our body's response to stress.

Prednisone works by mimicking the effects of cortisol. However, when prednisone is taken for more than a few weeks, the adrenal glands produce less natural cortisol. As a result, stopping prednisone quickly can cause a number of problems.

To avoid withdrawal symptoms after prolonged use, prednisone should be gradually reduced according to the schedule prescribed by your healthcare professional. Do not try to stop taking prednisone or reduce the dose without the knowledge or advice of your healthcare professional.

Withdrawal symptoms

Prednisone withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. Typical symptoms of prednisone withdrawal include:

How the dose of prednisone is lowered

The risk of prednisone withdrawal is so high that some healthcare providers plan a dose reduction program in advance if high doses are used for more than three days.

However, in most cases, dose reduction is only necessary if you have been taking oral prednisone for more than three weeks.

There are no set rules for tapering your prednisone dose. The schedule will differ depending on the dose you took and how long you took the medicine. The decision largely depends on the clinical experience of the physician.

An example of a prednisone reduction strategy

  • Decrease the dose by 5 milligrams (mg) at a time if the dose is less than 40 mg per day.
  • Decrease in 2.5 mg increments after reaching the 20 mg dose.
  • Decrease in 1 mg increments after reaching the 10 mg dose.

For people who have not taken steroids for a long time, the dose may be reduced slightly each day. People who have been taking prednisone for a long time may need a slower dose reduction. In some cases, the dose can be lowered monthly.

What to expect

When people first reduce their dose, they often feel weak or tired. These symptoms usually go away within two to seven days. If withdrawal symptoms continue to bother you after a week, talk to your doctor.

In some cases, your doctor may temporarily increase the dose and then gradually reduce it. Some people may still have a hard time eliminating steroids despite having a dose reduction of only 1 mg at a time.

Another method is known as an alternate day. For example, instead of simply reducing your prednisone dose from 4mg to 3mg, your healthcare provider may prescribe 4mg one day and 3mg the next, and then alternately for a week.

Then, if successful, the doctor may prescribe 4 mg one day and 2 mg the next day, and so on until the patient takes only 4 mg every other day (for example, 4 mg one day and zero the next). .. Then the doctor continues to try to reduce this dose to 4 mg.

Lowering the dose may not always prevent withdrawal symptoms. There are no tests that can accurately predict who will experience withdrawal symptoms and to what extent. If withdrawal symptoms are severe or persist for more than seven days, call your doctor, who can adjust the dose and reduce the dose.

People who take prednisone for a long time have a higher risk of withdrawal. However, it can also occur in people who only take the steroid for a short period of time. In some cases, the process of gradually reducing the dose can take weeks or several months.

Alternatives to prednisone

Some healthcare providers will choose a corticosteroid other than prednisone. These drugs can have the same benefits, but with fewer side effects.

Prednisone 5 mg is equal to the following corticosteroid doses (based on a corticosteroid conversion calculator ):

  • Celeston (betamethasone): 0.6 mg
  • Cortef (hydrocortisone) 20 mg
  • Cortone (cortisone): 25 mg
  • Decadron (dexamethasone) 0.75 mg
  • Kenacort (triamcinolone) 4 mg
  • Medrol (methylprednisolone) 4 mg
  • Omnipred (prednisolone): 5 mg

Summary

Prednisone is a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation. Mimics the stress hormone cortisol. When taken for a long time, prednisone disrupts the body's natural production of cortisol.

As a result, abruptly stopping prednisone is not recommended. This can cause body aches, fatigue, fever, and other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

To minimize or prevent these withdrawal symptoms, your healthcare professional will instruct you on how to gradually reduce your steroid dose. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's instructions. After reducing your dose for several days, you may still experience unpleasant symptoms.

Get the word of drug information

How long it takes to reduce your dose of prednisone depends on many factors. These include the condition you are being treated for, the dosage, and the duration of use. Eventually, your adrenal glands should return to normal cortisol levels, but this can take time.

There are many options for stopping prednisone. When low doses of corticosteroids are used over a long period, the gradual reduction in dose can take months or years. Work closely with your healthcare provider to find the right dose for you.

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