Prednisone, Oral Tablet

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on August 22, 2017Written by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Important warnings

  • Immune system effects warning:
    • Prednisone may weaken your immune system. A weakened immune system makes you more likely to get infections. Avoid being near people who are sick or have recently been sick, especially with chickenpox or measles. These infections can be serious or deadly in people who have had them before and who have lowered immunity due to this drug.
    • Tell your doctor about any recent infections or if you develop any symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, or body aches.
  • Live vaccines warning: Don’t receive live vaccines while taking prednisone in high doses. If you do, your immune system might not be able to handle the vaccine properly. This may lead to an infection. If you’re not sure if a vaccine is a live vaccine, ask your doctor.

What is prednisone?

Prednisone is a prescription steroid drug. It comes as an immediate-release tablet, delayed-release tablet, and liquid solution. You take these forms by mouth.

The delayed-release tablet is available as the brand-name drug Rayos. The solution is available as a generic drug and as the brand-name drug Prednisone Intensol. The immediate-release tablet is only available as a generic drug.

Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name versions.

Why it’s used

Prednisone reduces inflammation in your body. It’s approved to treat:

How it works

Prednisone works by weakening your immune system. This action interferes with chemicals that normally cause inflammation, and can help decrease inflammation in many parts of your body.

Prednisone side effects

Mild side effects from prednisone oral tablet may disappear within a few days. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if they bother you or don’t go away.

More common side effects

The more common side effects that occur with prednisone include:

Serious side effects

If you have any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

Effects in men

Q:

Are the prednisone side effects for men different from the side effects for women?

A:

For the most part, the side effects of prednisone are the same for men as they are for women. This is because prednisone works the same way for both men and women, and it treats the same conditions. The only difference for men seems to be the impact it could have on the movement and number of sperm. There have been both positive and negative effects on these factors.

It’s important to note that prednisone is not an anabolic steroid, the type of steroid that may be misused to build muscle. Anabolic steroids can have many other side effects that affect men only, such as decreased sperm count, shrunken testicles, and impotence. But this is not the case with prednisone.

The Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Testing and monitoring for safety

Your doctor may do tests to check your health and make sure the drug is working and is safe for you. They may include:

  • blood tests, such as tests to check your blood sugar levels. Prednisone can increase your blood sugar level and increase your risk of diabetes.
  • bone density tests. Prednisone can increase your risk for bone loss and weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
  • eye tests. Prednisone can increase pressure inside your eyes.

Allergy rash and other allergic reactions

Prednisone oral tablet can cause a serious allergic reaction in some people. This reaction can cause a skin rash, which can include:

  • one or more red patches of skin
  • swelling
  • itchiness

Other symptoms of an allergic reaction to prednisone could include trouble breathing as well as swelling of your face, tongue, or throat. Don’t take this drug if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal.

If you have a rash or other allergic symptoms after taking prednisone, call your doctor right away. If you’re having trouble breathing or think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Interactions with other medications

Prednisone oral tablet can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can also check for possible drug interactions.

Some of the drugs known to interact with prednisone include:

Mifepristone: Taking this drug with prednisone may prevent prednisone from working correctly. Avoid taking mifepristone if you’ve been taking prednisone regularly for a long time.

Bupropion: This drug may cause seizures when it’s used with prednisone.

Haloperidol: Taking this drug may cause heart rhythm problems when it’s used with prednisone.

Live vaccines: Taking prednisone lowers your immune system. If you receive a live vaccine while taking prednisone, your immune system might not be able to handle it properly. This may lead to an infection.

If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

Take as directed

How long you take prednisone oral tablet is based on your disease and your body’s response to treatment. This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking it suddenly

Don’t stop taking prednisone abruptly without speaking with your doctor first. You may experience withdrawal symptoms (see “Withdrawal from prednisone”).

What to do if you miss a dose

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to the next dose, skip the dose and take it at your next regularly scheduled time.

Don’t take extra doses to make up for the missed dose.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may experience less pain and swelling if the drug is working. There are different signs to show prednisone is effective, depending on your disease. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether or not this medication is working.

Withdrawal from prednisone

If you stop taking prednisone oral tablet suddenly, you could experience withdrawal symptoms. This typically happens if you’ve taken the drug for longer than three weeks. However, it could happen even if you’ve taken it for a short time.

Symptoms of prednisone withdrawal can include:

Don’t stop taking prednisone without talking to your doctor first. They can help prevent withdrawal by slowly tapering you off of the drug. For more information, read this article on prednisone withdrawal.

Other risks and warnings

This drug comes with warnings for certain people.

For people with infections: Taking prednisone lowers your immune system and can make an infection you already have worse. It also increases your risk for coming down with a new infection.

For people with heart or kidney disease: Prednisone may make you retain salt and water, which can raise your blood pressure.

For people with diabetes: Prednisone can increase your blood sugar level. You might need to monitor your blood sugar level more closely. If it goes up too much, your dosage of diabetes medication might need to be changed.

For pregnant women: The delayed-release tablet (Rayos) is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  • Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the pregnancy when the mother takes the drug.
  • This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

The immediate-release is a category C pregnancy drug. This means:

  • Research in animals has shown harmful effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  • There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the pregnancy.

Prednisone should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

For women who are breastfeeding: Talk with your doctor before taking prednisone if you are breastfeeding. Prednisone can be passed through breast milk. High doses of prednisone can interfere with your child’s growth and development.

For seniors: As you age, your kidneys, liver, and heart may not work as well. Prednisone is processed in your liver and removed from your body through your kidneys. It makes these organs work extra hard. If you’re an older adult, you may be started on a low dose that is increased slowly.

For children: Children might not grow as tall if they take prednisone for several months. Your child’s doctor should monitor your child’s growth rate.

How to take prednisone

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

For endocrine disorders

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 milligrams (mg) to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For the immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For rheumatic disorders

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For multiple sclerosis

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: If you have a sudden return or worsening of your symptoms, you may need to take 200 mg once per day for one week. This dosage may then be reduced to 80 mg once per day every other day for one month.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For skin diseases

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For allergies and asthma

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For eye diseases

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For lung diseases

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For blood disorders

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For lymphoma and leukemia

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For lupus and nephrotic syndrome

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

For stomach diseases

Generic: Prednisone

  • Form: immediate-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg
  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg
  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Brand: Rayos

  • Form: delayed-release oral tablet
  • Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg

Brand: Prednisone Intensol

  • Form: oral solution
  • Strength: 5 mg/mL

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

  • The initial dosage may vary from 5 mg to 60 mg per day taken once per day, depending on the specific disease and person taking the drug.
  • For immediate-release tablets and oral solution only: To reduce side effects, twice the usual dose of this drug may be taken every other morning. This is called alternate day therapy. Do not use alternate day therapy unless prescribed by your doctor.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The initial dosage may vary based on the specific disease and person taking the drug. Dosage for children is usually based on weight. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for your child.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

Important considerations for taking prednisone

General

  • Take this drug with food to prevent upset stomach.
  • If you take it once per day, take in the morning. If you take it more than once per day, space your doses out evenly throughout the day.
  • Don’t cut or crush the delayed-release tablet (Rayos). The coating must stay intact for the delayed-release action to work. However, you can cut or crush the immediate-release tablet.

Storage

  • Store this drug at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Keep the container tightly closed and away from light.
  • Don’t store this drug in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • X-ray machines won’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show the preprinted label from your pharmacy to identify the medicine. So, carry the original prescription-labeled bottle with you.

Your diet

Steroids such as prednisone change the amount of water and salts in your body. In large doses, prednisone can cause your body to retain salt or lose potassium. Your doctor may recommend changes to your diet to manage this side effect.

Alternatives

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

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