What are the side effects of prednisone?

Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine

Prednisone is a steroidal drug typically used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. Some of its primary side effects are nervousness or restlessness, increased appetite and indigestion.

All medicines are capable of producing side effects, and prednisone is no exception. Prednisone can cause allergic reactions (chest tightness, trouble breathing, rash, itching, facial swelling, hives or swelling in the mouth or throat), which warrant immediate medical attention. Other side effects include: severe stomach pain, rapid weight gain and swelling, shortness of breath, sleep problems, increased sweating, vision problems, nausea, depression, fast heartbeat, change in behavior, bloody stools, black stools, coughing up blood, seizures, leg pain, slow wound healing, muscle weakness, confusion, increased urination, changes in body fat distribution, headaches, blurry vision, anxiety, skin problems, dizziness, chest pain and buzzing in the ears. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these or other side effects while taking prednisone.

Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Prednisone (a corticosteroid used to treat inflammatory conditions) can cause fluid retention, resulting in high blood pressure and exacerbations of congestive heart failure. It also can cause glucose intolerance, resulting in diabetes or worsening of existing diabetes, as well as depression and confusion. At higher long-term doses, glaucoma, cataracts and osteoporosis can result. Patients can develop a "cushingoid appearance" (named after the man who first described this syndrome), in which the face becomes rounder and fat tissue accumulates centrally, leaving the arms and legs thinner.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.