Prednisone Side Effects And Warnings

Learn Facts and Information About Prednisone, Both Side Effects and Benefits

Long-Term Side Effects of Prednisone

Side Effects of Long-Term Prednisone Use

Long-term use of Prednisone or other corticosteroids may lead to side effects such as hirsutism, Cushingoid appearance, impotence, cataracts, glaucoma, asthma or peptic ulcer disease. Long-term use of Prednisone is defined as use of the drug for longer than 3 months.

Hirsutism is the medical term for excessive body hair growth in parts of the body where hair is normally absent or scarce[1], and is usually due to a hormonal imbalance. To be more precise, high levels of male hormones lead to abnormal hair growth in women and other symptoms such as acne, small breasts, enlargement of the clitoris and deepening voice. You can remove the unwanted hair by using different hair removal methods like shaving, tweezing, waxing or with electrolysis treatment, which uses electric current to destroy the hair roots.

Cushingoid appearance refers to having signs of Cushing syndrome, which is an endocrine disease caused by an excess of cortisol hormone. The excessive secretion of this hormone is often caused by an abnormal growth of the adrenal gland. The most common signs of Cushing disease are facial puffiness due to weight gain, brittle bones, blurred vision, and renal disorders like blood in the urine or kidney stones. Visual disturbance is often accompanied by hyperglycaemia, which means a high level of sugar in the blood[2]. Bone symptoms include osteoporosis, which occurs after a long treatment of glucocorticoids and can lead to fractures.

Impotence or erectile dysfunction is the inability to have erections during sexual activity. Sometimes, this disorder is characterized by full erections from time to time, especially during sleep, then no erection during intercourse. The main causes that lead to this penile dysfunction are hormonal imbalance and cardiovascular disease. Long-term treatment with Prednisone will increase the level of steroids in your body leading to this hormonal imbalance.

Cataracts and glaucoma are vision disturbances which lead to a decrease in vision. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes and are characterized by blurred vision, poor vision in bright light, trouble recognizing familiar faces and faded colors[3]. You can prevent this eye disorder by not smoking, and it can be treated by surgical removal of the cloudy lens. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which can lead to blindness. They are characterized by an increased intraocular pressure, eye redness and tunnel vision. You can treat it using surgery or prevent it by taking eye drops to decrease the increased eye fluid that is responsible for the blurred vision.

Asthma is a chronic pulmonary disease which can be treated with local inhalers, nasal sprays or systemic drugs containing steroids. Steroids like Prednisone are effective when it comes to asthma but they can also cause asthma as a long-term side effect.

Peptic ulcer is a disease which refers to stomach and duodenum ulcers and has symptoms like bloating, heartburn and nausea. In severe cases, peptic ulcers can make your stool take on the appearance of grounded coffee, because of the digested blood inside the duodenum. Initially, the blood drained inside the small intestine from a gastric haemorrhage is red, and then it turns dark brown or even black during the process of digestion[4].

References:

  1. Merck&Co. Retrieved, Merck Manuals online medical library, March 2011
  2. Pinel J., Naboulet C., Weiss F., Henkens M., Grouzard V., Medecins Sans Frontieres, Essential Drugs - Practical Guidelines, 2013
  3. Allen D., Vasavada A., Cataract and surgery for cataract, 2006
  4. Crivineanu M., Nicorescu V., Ed. Printech, Basis of Pharmacology, 2016

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