Prednisone Withdrawal Symptoms

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Prednisone is a prescription drug that is used for many different conditions. Unfortunately if it is suddenly stopped, you can experience withdrawal symptoms. In this lesson, we will learn about why withdrawal symptoms occur and what they are.

How Prednisone Works

Prednisone is a medication classified as a corticosteroid, which closely resembles the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is important for many life-sustaining functions. It's part of your fight or flight response, which most of us remember learning about back in school. This is your body's response to a stressful situation preparing you to either fight the problem or run from the problem.

Prednisone Tablet

Prednisone is often referred to as a steroid. It prevents your body from releasing substances that lead to inflammation, or swelling. It also suppresses your immune system. Your immune system and inflammation are important reactions in your body, but sometimes the body overreacts or the reaction is causing more harm than good. Suppressing these responses will improve your symptoms in these situations.

Prednisone is a great medication. When someone has asthma or other breathing problems, prednisone is very effective at helping to manage their symptoms. It is also very effective for allergic responses. Although it has many important uses, there is also potential harm that can occur.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Prednisone

If you stop prednisone abruptly, you may experience side effects. The side effects may be vague complaints that can easily be confused with other conditions. It's important to tell your healthcare provider if you had recently been taking prednisone.

You may complain of feeling weak or tired. You might have a decreased appetite and may experience weight loss. You could experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. You're probably realizing how these symptoms can easily be associated with many different illnesses or causes. Other symptoms you may experience are feeling dizzy or even faint, and your blood pressure may be low. Even your blood-glucose levels may be low.

You can see how many different body functions are affected by abruptly stopping prednisone. Although the symptoms may be vague, it's important to tell your doctor about them and the fact that you recently stopped prednisone. Sometimes the withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening. The good thing is that this can be avoided.

When you are on high doses of prednisone or even taking smaller doses for a prolonged time, your doctor should slowly taper you off of the medication. Let's look closer at why withdrawal from prednisone occurs.

Why Withdrawal from Prednisone Occurs

It's important to understand how prednisone affects your body to understand why withdrawal symptoms occur. We mentioned earlier how corticosteroids closely resemble cortisol which is produced in our body. This is the key to why withdrawal can occur.

The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and produce the hormone cortisol. The hypothalamus is a part of your brain that controls basic but essential functions of your body including the activity of the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands communicate with each other about the levels of cortisol in your body.

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