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Prednisone and Prednisolone

Chemotherapy Supportive Care

Brand names:

Rayos, Millipred DP, Orapred ODT, Pediapred, Veripred

Other names:

Prednisolone, prednisone intensol, methylprednisolone

Often used for:

Inflammation, allergies, leukemia, lymphoma, side effects of cancer treatments, prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after stem cell transplant

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What is prednisone?

Prednisone is a type of medicine called a corticosteroid. Prednisolone is another form of prednisone. 

Prednisone may be used to treat:

  • Inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain)
  • Skin rashes
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Adrenal gland problems such as ACTH deficiency (low stress hormone)
  • Graft-versus-host disease after stem cell transplant
  • Certain types of cancer

This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home. It is usually used in combination with other medicines.

The dose of prednisone will change as your child grows. Always contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about changes in your child’s medicines to make sure the medicine is the right dose and strength.

Your child may need urine and blood tests to check for high sugar levels. Blood tests may be needed to check potassium levels. 

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May be given as a liquid by mouth

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May be given as a tablet by mouth

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible side effects with short-term use

  • Heartburn
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain (especially in the face and abdomen)
  • Water retention (can cause increased blood pressure)
  • Acne
  • Increased hair growth
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Low potassium levels
  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in personality or mood
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue or weakness 
  • Increased sweating
  • Eye problems (including cataracts and glaucoma)
  • Change in the normal menstrual cycle
  • Increased white blood cell count
  • Increased risk of infection

Not all patients who take prednisone will have these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report any symptoms or side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Possible side effects with long-term use

Prednisone may cause medical problems that continue or develop months or years after therapy ends. These may include: 

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Tips for patients and families

Be sure to discuss all questions and instructions with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Prednisone can cause stomach upset if taken on an empty stomach.
  • Prednisone can hide a fever. Watch for signs of infection. Report any signs of infection to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
  • Your care team may recommend diet changes such as low sodium, low sugar, and high protein. A dietitian can suggest ways to make healthy food choices and manage increased appetite.
  • Patients may need to take a potassium supplement or eat foods high in potassium.
  • Patients should wash their face 2 times a day with soap and water to help prevent acne.
  • Certain medicines can interact with prednisone. These include insulin, warfarin, aspirin, ibuprofen, phenytoin, phenobarbital, ketoconazole, and rifampin. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medicines your child is taking.
  • This medicine may be a risk to an unborn baby. Let your care team if your child is sexually active. Tell your doctor if your child is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prednisone at home:

  • Give with food or milk to help with stomach problems.
  • Give prednisone at the same time each day. Give in the morning if once per day.
  • For delayed-release tablets, have your child swallow whole. Do not crush, chew, or break before swallowing.
  • For liquid prednisone, use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store prednisone at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe handling, storage, and disposal.