Prednisone: Love it? Hate it?

The drug I love to hate…

prednisoneBottles

…that would be a picture of most of the prednisone bottles from May 2013 through December 2013, and it doesn’t include all the IV steroids and kenalog shots I also received.  I’ve been on many, many prednisone tapers in the past 20-odd years, but I’ve never been on corticosteroids for this length of time.  While it’s one of the standard drugs doctors love to prescribe for asthmatics, and it generally works quite well, the side effects can be quite awful.  In the past I’ve mostly dealt with insomnia and loss of appetite but this summer/fall I also experienced:

  • increased hunger
  • extreme cold-sensitivity in my teeth
  • shakes/tremmors
  • high blood pressure
  • rashes
  • joint pain
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle weakness
  • water retention
  • weight gain
  • puffy face
  • large purple stretch marks around my abdomen
  • swollen hands and feet
  • mood changes/irritability

These aren’t all the side-effects but they were the most prominent ones.  Some of them point to Cushing’s Syndrome, but I never really discussed that with my doctors.  The worst has probably been the 30lbs I gained and have had a hell of a time losing.  People perceived as “fat” get shamed for all kinds of inappropriate reasons, but has anyone ever considered health conditions?  Asthma is one of those things that can easily lead to weight gain from medication and the inability to exercise.  Unless you stay on top of exercising to any degree, it’s very easy to become deconditioned quite quickly.  In the past my asthma has had the least effect on me when I’ve been most physically fit.  One of my goals for this year include minimal exercise as I continue recovering from last year.

A couple of weeks ago i finally received the “OK” to drop from 5mg to 2.5mg.  In the past week I’ve had a slight flare up and jumped up to 20mg with a quick taper to get things under control.  My main lung doc wants me on the 2.5mg for the next two months until I see him again.  While I hate being on the stuff I can’t disagree with his caution.  I don’t need to repeat any of the seven ER trips I made and I can’t really afford to miss a large chunk of work again any time soon.

  • jules marsh

    Sounds like we’ve been through similar problems with our asthma recently. Although this is the very worst I’ve ever been. Been on and off pred, moatly on, for the past 15 months! I agree the side effects are awful. Just the price we have to pay I guess. Take care

    • Hi Jules,
      Sorry you’re going through the same stuff. This past year
      was horrible for everyone I know with any seasonal allergy and/or
      respiratory issues. Hang in there.