I was recently prescribed oral Prednisone to deal with an MS exacerbation and I wanted to tell you all about my experience.
What is Prednisone?
Prednisone is part of a class of drugs called corticosteroids which also includes Methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone. Corticosteroids are man-made drugs that resemble cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal glands normally produce.. Most folks shorten the term corticosteroids to "steroids" or even "roids" not to be confused with the male hormone steroids sometimes abused by atheletes.
Why is Prednisone prescribed for Multiple Sclerosis patients and what does it do?
Prednisone reduces the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Prednisone has the capacity to close the damaged blood-brain barrier and in turn reduces the inflammation of the central nervous system. It is used to speed up recovery between episodes of MS and it can lessen the symptoms you are experiencing. There is no evidence that it can reduce the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. While some patients will be given the option of a Solu-Medrol (methylprednisone) intravenous drip, others will be given a prescription for an oral Prednisone taper which is what I was given during my last appointment.
What are some of the precautions and possible side effects with taking oral Prednisone?
Some of the common side effects I have read about include sleep problems, anxiety and agitation, and depression.
If you take them for long periods of time in high doses, you might also experience weight gain and swelling in the face, weakening and thinning of the bones, lowered resistance to infection, high blood pressure, blood sugar problems, and even paranoia and psychosis.
Here are some of the specific precautions as recommended by the National MS Society:
"This medication can cause indigestion and stomach discomfort. Always take it with a meal and/or a glass of milk. Your physician may prescribe an antacid for you to take with this medication.
Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. Do not stop taking it abruptly; your physician will give you a schedule that gradually tapers the dose before you stop it completely.
Since corticosteroids can stimulate the appetite and increase water retention, it is advisable to follow a low-salt and/or a potassium-rich diet and watch your caloric intake.
Corticosteroids can lower your resistance to infection and make any infection that you get more difficult to treat. Contact your physician if you notice any sign of infection, such as sore throat, fever, coughing or sneezing.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has chicken pox or measles. Tell your physician immediately if you think you have been exposed to either of these illnesses. Do not have any immunizations after you stop taking this medication until you have consulted your physician. People living in your home should not have the oral polio vaccine while you are being treated with corticosteroids since they might pass the polio virus on to you.