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How to Minimize Prednisone Side Effects

How to Minimize Prednisone Side Effects
How to Minimize Prednisone Side Effects

Every drug can cause side effects, because “the dose makes the poison.” However, most drugs don’t cause too many, or no one would take them. But is there anything we can do about the side effects we do experience? This article is designed to help you know how to minimize prednisone side effects. I’m going to share tips about different things that affect side effects, different aspects of medicine that affect side effects. The tips are applicable to all drugs, but inspired by prednisone, since it causes so many side effects.

What is Prednisone? 

Search the Ultimate List of Prednisone Side Effects

So the first one I already alluded to is the dose, you can see this one [in the video] is 20 milligrams, which is a lot! Prednisone is mimicking a hormone in our body called cortisol and cortisol is normally between 2.5 to 5 milligrams (mg) equivalent to prednisone. So, when we’re taking 20 milligrams really likely that we will have side effects because that’s way more than what our body normally makes.

Prednisone is commonly prescribed which means it is the 22nd most commonly prescribed drug, prednisone is a drug prescribed often for a long list of conditions, shown below. Prednisone can be lifesaving and miraculously relieving for conditions such as pneumonia, organ transplants, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

How to Minimize Prednisone Side Effects

Listed below are the 5 tips that you can do to minimize the prednisone side effects.

benefits of nutranize

1. Understanding Prednisone Dose

So the first principle of side effects to understand is that the higher the dose for prednisone, the more likely to have side effects, and the side effects change as the dose goes up, lower doses can have different side effects. But generally, the principle is if you lower the dose of prednisone, you lower the side effects.

When taking this drug, you should always outweigh the benefits and the risk because it causes 150 and more side effects.

timing on prednisone

2. Timing of Prednisone

Timing can affect lots of different medicines.

So for example, when you take prednisone, it usually says on the bottle take in the morning with food. And that makes sense for most people to take it in the morning because our bodies secrete cortisol in the morning, mostly it’s the highest in the morning and it decreases throughout the day. So that bike bedtime, it’s almost gone. That leads to a direct side effect.

If it hasn’t worn off, one of the top side effects. In fact, the number one tweeted complaint of people on prednisone is insomnia. And so if you take the prednisone first thing in the morning, then you’re more likely to be able to fall asleep at night and hopefully get better sleep. Other medicines, for example, prenatal pills, millions of women are taking to make sure that their children don’t get birth defects.

Prenatal Pill

And one of the side effects of prenatal pills is nausea. So, if you take a prenatal pill at bedtime that can decrease nausea because you’re sleeping through that. It gives that there are ingredients in there that actually can help with nausea. They can kick in to help with the morning sickness, but back to prednisone and timing. There’s actually some evidence showing that for certain conditions, it might make sense to take it at bedtime.

I know that’s totally a surprise cause it makes no sense with the body’s natural release of cortisol. But what is it shows is that it helps with taking prednisone for people who have rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory joint conditions. It could be more helpful to take prednisone at bedtime because then it’s at the peak dose when they need the pain relief. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions have the highest amount of inflammation, first thing in the morning. So if the medicine is kicking in right when they need it, then that’s perfect. Instead of waking up in pain, taking the medicine, and then waiting half an hour to an hour or longer for it to kick in. So you could explore that with your doctor.

3. Body Rhythms and Thyroid Hormones

All right, the next topic is so body rhythms and thyroid hormone, thyroid hormone is the number one drug prescribed in America. And so people need to understand how to take it. It should be taken first thing in the morning, right?

When you wake up and hopefully on an empty stomach with just a glass of water, 30 minutes before you eat anything else and that is because your thyroid would normally release the thyroid hormone in the morning, and it would help you with your metabolism and your energy and your temperature regulation, all of these important things. And so it should be taken first thing in the morning, but it shouldn’t be taken with a lot of things!

Drug Interaction

Like, for example, calcium and other drug interactions. So it’s important while you’re on prednisone to be taking calcium with it, but you shouldn’t take calcium with thyroid, but a lot of people who are on prednisone have a thyroid problem. So if that’s your situation, then you should take, take thyroid hormone. First thing, 30 minutes before, or you ever take anything with calcium in it like a glass of milk or other foods that have calcium in them.

And so you don’t want to take supplemental calcium with it either at least 30 minutes, if not two hours. And then you can take your calcium supplement.

You could, you could take the prednisone with the thyroid first thing in the morning, those don’t interact. Those are fine together, but you wouldn’t want to be taking the calcium with the thyroid hormone.

4. Absorption

absorption on prednisone

So what affects absorption?

People commonly need to take iron supplements. They might have anemia or other things causing low iron and iron is best absorbed when taken with something acidic like orange juice or Coke or coffee. And so if you have to take iron, it’s best to take it with a swig of orange juice or something else that’s sick that will help it be absorbed then with prednisone, should it be taken with or without food?

That is the question I was taught in pharmacy school. You should always take prednisone with food because it’ll help with stomach upset. If there’s anything that I’ve been surprised about while taking prednisone myself and I’m learning and studying as much about it and following Facebook support groups for people on prednisone is that almost no one complaints about stomach upset I never hear it ever. That’s never anybody’s concern.

So if you are having stomach upset from the prednisone and not from something else, please let me know because you’re the first person I would know about. Therefore I wanted to share with you that there’s actually not the best evidence that taking prednisone with food will get rid of the problem that it’s hoping to there.

Peptic Ulcer

The idea is that it will prevent a peptic ulcer that they found that most people who get a peptic ulcer are getting it because they’re taking prednisone with another medicine called an NSAID like ibuprofen, Meloxicam, and Naproxen; any of those patients pain relievers that you can usually buy over the counter except for a few of them. So basically what I’m trying to say is you can take prednisone with food.

If that helps you to feel better while you’re taking it, but you don’t need to kill yourself over it. If you don’t want to take it with food. I personally took my prednisone with a tall glass of water and a few nuts. Finally, I wanted to give you some tips about how to navigate side effects.

5. Never Face Prednisone Side Effects Alone

Another tip to minimize the prednisone side effects is you should keep your healthcare team informed of what you’re experiencing. You should definitely tell your doctor’s office and your pharmacist. Did you know that your pharmacist has a doctoral degree? That means they’ve been to so much schooling to understand the new medicines on the market today. We’ve learned as pharmacists, how to help you cope with these side effects.

6. Get Reliable Tips!

A lot of people don’t know about is your farm analysis is required by law to offer to give you tips. But most people refuse that offer. They just sign the thing saying, no, I don’t want to talk to the pharmacist. So, take your pharmacist up on it.  Ask them what tips do you have to help me with my side effects? What tips do you have to help me feel better?

While on this medicine, you might be surprised at how much your pharmacist knows and can help you to minimize the prednisone side effects.

Finally, I promised at the end a gift, and that is the prednisone checklist on the prednisone checklist. I’ve included the top seven mistakes people on prednisone make, and then 15 ways to cope with that. With the top side effects.

I created it because I took prednisone myself and I was miserable!  I did tons of research to find the best ways to cope and I’ve compiled it.

Fill in the form below to get your own prednisone checklist!

Free Prednisone Checklist

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Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP

Dr. Megan Milne, PharmD, BCACP, is an award-winning clinical pharmacist board certified in the types of conditions people take prednisone for. Dr. Megan had to take prednisone herself for an autoimmune condition so understands what it feels like to suffer prednisone side effects and made it her mission to counteract them as the Prednisone Pharmacist.

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