Corticosteroids, sometimes referred to as adrenocorticosteroids or simply steroids, are essential hormones which are produced by the adrenal cortex of the body. Prednisone is a steroidal compound that is used alone or as an adjunct to other medications. Its main goal is to treat the symptoms of corticosteroid deficiency and to manage conditions that result from corticosteroid imbalances.
How does prednisone work?
As a corticosteroid, prednisone plays a critical role in the normal physiology of the body. Among others, it is crucial in the control of salt and water balance in the body, as well as in maintaining proper glucose, protein, and fat metabolism. This steroidal compound is also essential in the normal coping up with stress such as surgery, trauma, infection and emotional problems. In fact, the production of adrenal hormones increases during stressful situation then eventually returns to normal levels after stress. One of the most beneficial functions of corticosteroids, including prednisone, is its anti-inflammatory action. Steroids block the production of substances such as prostaglandins which activate inflammatory and allergic-type reactions.
The benefits of using prednisone are carefully weighed against its potential side effects. Firstly, corticosteroids are known to impede the function of white blood cells which render the person immune system susceptible to infection. Synthetic corticosteroids especially prednisone suppress the normal production of natural cortisone causing the adrenal cortex to be dependent on drugs when taken more than prescribed. Excessive use of prednisone can also lead in the improper metabolism of glucose, fat and protein.
What conditions does prednisone treat?
Because of the varied physiologic functions of corticosteroids, it is prescribed by physicians for many conditions, either as the main medication or as a supplemental treatment.
Prednisone is popularly used for the management of inflammatory process in many diseases that include blood disorders, severe allergies, breathing problems, skin diseases, eye problems, severe allergic reactions, and immune system diseases. In particular, it is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic sclerosis, vasculitis, polymyalgia rheumatic, and mixed connective tissue disease.
What are the other uses of prednisone?
Aside from treating inflammatory conditions, prednisone has also been recently used in the management of cancer patients. It is also sometimes prescribed along with antibiotic therapy in the treatment of pneumonia, especially for patients with AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Physicians prescribe prednisone for various conditions. It is always best to consult your healthcare provider before taking this drug.
Depending on the condition that is treated, prednisone can be given in a various ways. It can be administered orally, or through intravenous or intramuscular injection, or applied locally to the skin. Some drug products such as inhalers, eye products, nasal sprays and drops, and topical agents contain prednisone as an active ingredient.