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What Are Prednisone Side Effects?

Prednisone Has Several Side Effects That Can Be Troublesome


Updated May 16, 2014

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is an inexpensive and effective steroid that is often used in treating flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Similar to a compound made naturally in the body's adrenal gland, prednisone is also known for being associated with a considerable number of side effects. Below is a list of some possible prednisone side effects.

Common Side Effects:

Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

  • increased appetite
  • indigestion
  • nervousness or restlessness

Less Frequent or Rare Side Effects:

Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

  • darkening or lightening of skin color
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • flushing of face or cheeks
  • hiccups
  • increased sweating
  • sensation of spinning

Always Notify Your Doctor:

Less common:

  • Decreased or blurred vision
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst


  • confusion
  • excitement
  • false sense of well-being
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there)
  • mental depression
  • mistaken feelings of self-importance or being mistreated
  • mood swings (sudden and wide)
  • restlessness
  • skin rash or hives

Additional Effects:

These side effects may occur when this drug is used for a prolonged period of time. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects occur:

  • abdominal or stomach pain or burning (continuing)
  • acne
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • changes in vision
  • eye pain
  • filling or rounding out of the face
  • headache
  • irregular heartbeat
  • menstrual problems
  • muscle cramps or pain
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • pain in arms, back, hips, legs, ribs, or shoulders
  • reddish purple lines on arms, face, groin, legs, or trunk
  • redness of eyes
  • sensitivity of eyes to light
  • stunting of growth (in children)
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • tearing of eyes
  • thin, shiny skin
  • trouble in sleeping
  • unusual bruising
  • unusual increase in hair growth
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weight gain (rapid)
  • wounds that will not heal

Other Notes

Corticosteroids may lower your resistance to infections. Any infection you get may be harder to treat. Check with your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any possible signs of an infection, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing, or coughing.

After stopping this medicine, your body may need time to adjust. The length of time this takes depends on the amount of prednisone taken and how long it was used. After large doses of this medicine for a long time, it may take up to one year to adjust. During this time, check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • abdominal, stomach, or back pain
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fever
  • loss of appetite (continuing)
  • muscle or joint pain
  • nausea
  • reappearance of disease symptoms
  • shortness of breath
  • unexplained headaches (frequent or continuing)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • weight loss (rapid)

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor. This information is meant only as a guideline -- always consult a physician or pharmacist for complete information about prescription medications.

How much do you know about prednisone? Take the prednisone quiz and find out!


UCSF Medical Center. "FAQ: Prednisone." University of California San Francisco. 2014. 25 Mar 2014.

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