I got interesting feedbacks after the publication of the article on Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Someone wanted to know whether Prednisolone (‘P’) shared the same effects and untoward effects with NSAIDs.
I got a call from someone who said she had a low body weight and therefore does not feel confident wearing the nice dresses that she has.
A friend had suggested that she should take ‘P’ tablets for about three months to fill up her body. Another person said he regularly took ‘P’ tablets together with Indomethacin for his arthritis and wanted to know if there was any problem with the combination.
Another said she was diabetic with a skin allergy. She was given Prednisolone sometime ago by her physician. Is it alright to take Prednisolone from time to time treat the allergy?
It is appears Prednisolone is being used for various purposes and it is important to use this piece to highlight its benefits and adverse effects.
I also need to stress that Prednisolone should be used on prescription. I also believe that by the end of this piece all the issues raised by some readers will be addressed.
Prednisolone is a corticosteroid drug used for the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory and auto-immune conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erythematosus or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Persons with asthma will testify to the benefits of prednisolone as part of the therapy for the management of asthma emergencies.
When a person develops an allergic reaction to a medication, prednisolone (or some other steroid) may be used to treat the condition depending on the severity of the allergy.
Prednisolone is also used as an immunosuppressant for example in kidney transplants to prevent reject. Nothwithstanding the wide uses of prednisolone it has several untoward effects and therefore the need for the drug to be used on prescription.
For example the drug causes fluid retention of the face (moon face) and weight gain. Unfortunately the un-informed exploit these effects of the drug to make them have rounded faces. Prednisolone lowers the body’s immune system making one liable to infections.
Prednisolone can cause bloody or black tarry stools from bleeding into the stomach – that is peptic ulcer disease (PUD).
One can therefore appreciate the combined effects on the stomach of a NSAID (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Indomethacin, Naproxen) being taken together with Prednisolone for a prolonged period.
Your health care provider will usually take steps to protect your stomach from the ill effects of this combination. Prolonged course of Prednisolone can lead to muscle weakness, pain in the back, hips, ribs, arms, shoulders or legs.
One may also develop reddish-purple stretch marks on the arms, face, legs, trunk or groin. It can also make the skin thin and shiny predisposing the chronic user to bruising and wounds that usually do not heal.
It is always a difficult experience working on someone whose prolonged steroid abuse effects have become a nuisance to effective treatment.
Prolonged use of prednisolone can lead to the development of osteoporosis which makes bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures.
Osteoporosis (“porous bones”) is a progressive bone disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture.
I believe many persons who abuse steroids such as Prednisolone may not be aware of this particular danger. In effect you may be a young male or female but with the bone of a very, very old person. Steroid medication can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection. Steroids can also worsen an infection you already have, or reactivate an infection you recently had. Before taking this medication, tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.
Prednisolone can also increase blood sugar levels and the need for caution particularly in diabetics.
You will need to have this at the back of your mind whenever you are monitoring your blood glucose so as to not to get unduly alarmed.
Prednisolone has other adverse effects which may not be known by the chronic abusers. It could serious mental health problems affecting about 5% of persons who take such steroids.
Symptoms include depression (including suicidal thoughts), mood swings, anxiety, and difficulty in thinking, hallucinations and having strange and frightening thoughts.
I believe I have made myself clear now. You can see how one drug (Prednisolone) in one breath is so, so useful. Unbridled use of the same drug could lead to serious consequences.
Kindly pass on this message to a friend as your contribution to the Safe Use of Medicines campaign. This is also to kindly remind you to return unused/unwanted medicines for safe disposal.
By Edward O. Amporful