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Prednisone: When Will My Immune System Recover?

Prednisone: When Will My Immune System Recover?

You’re currently on Prednisone and wondering when will your immune system go back to normal? Check out this article to find out what happens to your immune system while on prednisone.

Show notes of Prednisone: When Will My Immune System Recover?

Everyone has their own unique experience

I think lots of people taking prednisone are scared that their immune system is compromised because of this coronavirus. I agree. It’s true. Prednisone suppresses the immune system. So, if your doctor says, “Well, you can stop taking it.” When does your new system come back? When will my immune system recover? That’s what I’m going to answer today. At least, I’m going to try. What we need to understand about prednisone is that it is a drug that affects your DNA. Prednisone goes in and it goes inside your cells and it tells your cells to change the way they are sending messages to your body. That means that every single person who takes prednisone has their own unique experience with it. That means every single person has a different way that their body responds with their immune system.

The “Dose” Matters

 

“A higher dose suppresses it more. It interferes with more aspects of your immune system, and a lower dose interferes less”

Some people’s immune system might be completely suppressed more than other people. It’s very dependent on your personal DNA and your immune system before and after. What else is affecting when your immune system will recover? Well, the dose, for sure.

The higher the dose, the more immune system suppression there is, especially over 40 milligrams a day, that’s when there’s a lot of immune system suppression. Below 10 milligrams a day, there’s not as much. But even 2.5 milligrams a day is used for people who have kidney transplants or liver transplants or lung transplants to keep their immune system from attacking it. Even 2.5 milligrams a day can suppress a part of your immune system that would be attacking your transplant. So, anywhere, anything above 2.5 milligrams a day can theoretically suppress your immune system but it still is affecting your immune system.

The Study of Prednisone & Immune System

They did a study on healthy people who didn’t actually need prednisone and just wanted to test to see what would happen to their immune system. They checked all of these different types of cells:

  • B cells
  • T cells
  • lymphocytes

All of these different cells to see when they changed depending on when the pill was taken. They actually didn’t take prednisone, they took hydrocortisone, but they’re pretty much the same thing. People would take their hydrocortisone and then they would test their blood every so often, and they would notice that for most of their immune system, it was suppressed the very most four hours after taking it.

By eight hours, some of it had recovered, and by 24 hours, most of their immune system had recovered. But you have to realize these are people who are otherwise healthy and only took one dose. By 28 days, their immune system was completely recovered. So, can we extrapolate that out to normal people? Can we say, “Okay, if you’ve taken one dose, your immune system recovers in eight to 24 hours, but if you’ve taken 1,000 doses, how long does it take?” that study doesn’t really give us a perfect answer, does it? They’ve done other studies on different types of cells to see how long it takes them to recover. For example, your eosinophils, they’re what kind of cause allergies. For people who have really bad allergies, it can be because of their eosinophils.

How Immune System Recovers

Your body completely kills the eosinophils. You kill every single one of them when you’re on prednisone. Most people do. So, in order for your immune system to recover, it has to grow an entirely new cell line. All of those little baby eosinophils need time to go from your lymph all the way up to growing and being effective, and that takes time. That’s not a 24-hour thing. That takes a couple of weeks.

When Your Immune System Recovers From Prednisone

The chemotherapy website for people with breast cancer said 21 to 28 days. That’s another guess.

Another resource I looked at called UpToDate, it talked about the glucocorticoid effects on the immune system. They said it could be a week, a month, or even a year, depending on what part of the immune system you’re talking about, because there are lots of different types of the immune system.

If I stop taking prednisone, am I safer against coronavirus?

There’s your humoral immunity and your cellular immunity and all of these many, many factors involved. So, what is the answer to the question? When does your immune system come back? If you stop taking prednisone and you want to know, am I safe from the coronavirus? The answer is it DEPENDS. It depends on your DNA, on your dose, and on how well you recover. For some people, that might be 24 hours. For other people, it might be a year. So, you really need to work with your doctor. If you find this article helpful, you may check out my other blogs or sign up so we can send the latest news about prednisone! If you’re still on prednisone, I do have resources that will help you to cope with the top 15 side effects. You may find other helpful links below. Signing off as Dr. Megan, your Prednisone Pharmacist.

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