Skip to main content

Ask the Expert: What are the side effects of taking a low dose prednisone every day? It's the only thing that helps with my pain, but I hear it's not a long-term solution?

Prednisone belongs to the class of medications known as corticosteroids (or anti-inflammatory agents). These medications provide relief of inflammation and are used to treat a variety of medical conditions including pain, asthma, Sjögren’s and rheumatoid arthritis. As with all medications, corticosteroids have some adverse side effects related to the dose and the duration in which the medication is taken. Side effects associated with low dose (7.5 mg/day or less) daily prednisone are less severe than those seen with higher doses (greater than 30mg/day) and can usually be managed with precautions. Common side effects of daily low dose prednisone include elevated blood pressure, swelling, changes in blood sugar, increased appetite, weight gain, insomnia, osteoporosis (thinning of bones), irregular menstrual periods, and mood changes. Serious side effects associated with higher doses and long-term use (greater than 1 month) are impaired wound healing, decreased growth (in children), decreased muscle production, fat deposits, stomach ulcers or bleeding, vision problems, higher risk for infection, and in rare cases life-threatening allergic reactions.

Although the list of side effects may make you wonder whether you should take this medication or not, please be reassured that many people take daily low dose prednisone with minor or no side effects. The following self-care tips may help minimize some of the side effects associated with prednisone. For those experiencing swelling and/or elevated blood pressure, a healthy low sodium diet, regular exercise, and stress management can help to keep your blood pressure under control while taking daily low dose prednisone. If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar and report any severe fluctuations in blood sugar to your provider. It is recommended that prednisone be taken with food or milk to minimize stomach upset and reduce the chance of stomach ulceration. Schedule yearly eye exams and report any new changes in vision to your eye doctor. Long term corticosteroid therapy may cause thinning of bones (osteoporosis) which increases the risk of bone fracture. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about vitamin D and calcium supplementation to help protect your bones. Since long term prednisone use can increase your risk for infection, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your vaccination history and be sure to stay up to date on all of your recommended vaccines. Alert your family members and friends about the possibility of mood changes associated with this medication, so they can help detect any unusual changes in your behavior. Report any changes in mood or behavior to your doctor.

Although experiencing side effects is unpleasant, it is crucial to avoid sudden discontinuation of this medication. Never stop or decrease your dose unless instructed by your doctor. Your doctor can instruct you on how to slowly decrease your dose if you need to stop taking this medication for any reason.

By Ajay John, Pharmacy Intern and Kayli Smith, Pharm.D

This article was first printed in  the Foundation's patient newsletter for members. Click here to learn more about becoming a member. 

Group of diverse people

Help Support the Sjögren's Foundation

Help support the Sjögren's Foundation by donating today! Not only will your donation help fund critical research, educational opportunities and support the Foundation's mission to create 'a community where patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers come together to conquer the complexities of Sjögren’s' but it is also 100% tax deductible.

Click Here to Donate


— Aug 9, 2023

Hi i have been taking predisone 30mg for 6 days for copd my breathing has improved but i'm getting really thirsty heart palpitations, blurred vision dizziness and a tingly face, not sure if i'm being paranoid, will these symptoms go away once i stop i only have one more day to do. Thank you

— Aug 10, 2023

I have been on Prednisone for just over 2 years for PMR, started at 20 mg managed to get down to 5 mg but had a flare went up to 17 mg and finally have worked down to 7 mg..however the side effects even at this low dose are frightening. I have had significant weight gain, more then 45 lbs, my hair is thinning, my skin has developed small bumps that bleed easily then form a white crust appearance, and worst of all is a change in my personality...I have become very moody and find small things set me off.
So yes this is a wonder drug but there are times when I wish I had never started it...I also have moderate RA and am about to start a new Biologic called Orencia..hopefully with decreased inflammation I can get off the Prednisone. As a result of elevated SED rate I have developed anemia which required a total of 7 I/V infusions of Venofer...Hard to keep going some days but love of family keeps me present. Best to all ...

— Aug 26, 2023

I have been on Prednisone for inflammation in both lungs started with 30mgmd and now tapered down to 5 mgm once a day a breakfast I have awful weight gain. Specialist advised to take five mgms for another six months. By then I will be the size of a house. Can I cut down myself the dosage. Thanks for any help

— Sep 15, 2023

I've just been prescribed 40mg prednisone for lung fibrosis and I'm terrified of the side effects it's going to be a tapered dose over four months anyone had experience with this and how did it effect you and your symptoms.

— Oct 14, 2023

I have been taking prednisone for the past 6 years for PMR. MY consultant tapered them of me fo and I stopped taking them in September this year. My follow up appointment was cancelled so I never got to see him. I became so unwell as the weeks have passed. Every part of my body hurt even my head became painful and my jaw. I cannot explain how ill I felt. I woke up o e morning and could not move at all. I called my GP and she started me back on 5mg daily and within 72 hours I started to feel a lot better and now just waiting to see consultant again.

— Oct 19, 2023

I was recently diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica started dose 15mg then tapered down I’m now on 5 mg I have been on perdnisone for 5 months now but I would really like to stop taking them as all these Side effects seem to frighten me but I just wondering if the pain will come back

— Nov 11, 2023

I'm here to share on how a herbalist cured me from genital herpes virus with his herbal medicine,,. All my life I will forever be grateful to him for curing me when I thought it was all over' today I'm happy with my life after the medical doctor confirm severally that the virus of 3 years is gone, I have never in my life believed that HERPES VIRUS could be cured by herbal medicine. you can also try him out' it might as well work for you. reach him today via his website

— Nov 28, 2023

I got cured from Genital Herpes through the herbal treatment from a herbal man whom I came across on a research on the internet, I actually couldn't believe it at first because it sounded impossible to me knowing how far I have gone just to get rid of it, But he assured me that it will cure me and he sent me his herbal medicine which I took as instructed by him and I tested negative for the virus and all the blisters were all gone! here I'm living a happy life once again, a big thanks to Him for curing me totally from Genital Herpes. you can reach and also know about him on his website

Post a comment