Prednisone

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About This Drug

Prednisone is a steroid that may be used to treat cancer. It is given orally (by mouth).

Possible Side Effects

  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Changes in mood, which may include depression or a feeling of extreme well-being
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling restless (unable to relax)
  • Skin changes such as rash, dryness redness
  • Increased appetite (increased hunger)
  • Weight gain
  • Electrolyte changes
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Aggravation of stomach ulcers
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Blood sugar levels may change. If you have diabetes, changes may need to be made to your diabetes medication
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Muscle loss and / or weakness (lack of muscle strength)
  • Increased risk of developing osteoporosis- your bones may become weak and brittle
  • Increased risk for cataracts, glaucoma or infections of the eye
  • Changes in your liver function

Note: Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • High blood pressure and changes in electrolytes, which can cause fluid build-up around your heart, lungs or elsewhere.
  • Severe infections, which can be life-threatening
  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.
  • Increased risk of developing a hole in your stomach, small, and/or large intestine if you have ulcers in the lining of your stomach and/or intestine, or have diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and/or other diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Severe depression and other psychiatric disorders such as mood changes
  • Effects on the endocrine glands including pituitary, adrenals and thyroid during or after use of this medication

Note: Some of the side effects above are very rare. If you have concerns and/or questions, please discuss them with your medical team.

Important Information

  • Talk to your doctor or your nurse before stopping this medication, it should be stopped gradually. Depending on the dose and length of treatment, you could experience serious side effects if stopped abruptly (suddenly).
  • Talk to your doctor before receiving any vaccinations during your treatment. Some vaccinations are not recommended while receiving prednisone.

How to Take Your Medication

  • For oral (by mouth): You can take the medicine with or without food, but it is preferable to be taken with food, especially If you have nausea or upset stomach.
  • Missed dose: If you miss or vomit a dose, contact your physician. Do not take 2 doses at the same time and do not double up on the next dose.
  • Handling: Wash your hands after handling your medicine, your caretakers should not handle your medicine with bare hands and should wear latex gloves.
  • Storage: Store this medicine in the original container at room temperature, protect from moisture. Discuss with your nurse or your doctor how to dispose of unused medicine.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
  • If you throw up, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day. Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • To help with muscle weakness, get regular exercise. If you feel too tired to exercise vigorously, try taking a short walk.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your nurse or doctor on tips to help you sleep better.
  • If you are feeling depressed, talk to your nurse or doctor about it.
  • Keeping your pain under control is important to your well-being. Please tell your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing pain.
  • If you have diabetes, keep good control of your blood sugar level. Tell your nurse or your doctor if your glucose levels are higher or lower than normal.
  • To decrease infection, wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
  • Take your temperature as your doctor or nurse tells you, and whenever you feel like you may have a fever.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you. 

Food and Drug Interactions

  • This drug may interact with grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Talk to your doctor as this could make side effects worse.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) you are taking before starting this medicine as there are known drug interactions with prednisone. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplements to make sure that there are no interactions.
  • There are known interactions of prednisone with other medicines and products like aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Ask your doctor what over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you can take.
  • There are known interactions of prednisone with blood thinning medicine such as warfarin. Ask your doctor what precautions you should take.
  • Avoid the use of St. John’s Wort while taking prednisone as this may lower the levels of the drug in your body, which can make it less effective.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • A headache that does not go away
  • Blurry vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Feel irritable, nervous or restless
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations) 
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back or it can be constant. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Abnormal blood sugar
  • Severe mood changes such as depression or unusual thoughts and/or behaviors
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others, and suicide
  • Unusual thirst, passing urine often, headache, sweating, shakiness, irritability
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • A new rash or a rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • If you think you may be pregnant

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while receiving this drug. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant.
  • Breastfeeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breastfeeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised June 2018

This patient information was developed by Via Oncology, LLC © 2018. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have.

CLIENT acknowledges that the Via Pathways and Via Portal are information management tools only, and that Via Oncology, LLC has not represented the Via Pathways or Via Portal as having the ability to diagnose disease, prescribe treatment, or perform any other tasks that constitute the practice of medicine. The clinical information contained in the Via Pathways and Via Portal are intended as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the knowledge, expertise, skill, and judgment of physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals involved with patient care at CLIENT facilities.