Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that may affect several areas of the body. Prednisone is a medication that people may use to treat some of the symptoms of lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means it occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks their healthy tissues, causing inflammation. It can affect many areas of a person’s body and cause a range of symptoms that may include:

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million people in the United States have lupus.

This article discusses prednisone as a possible treatment option for lupus symptoms. It also outlines the side effects of prednisone and other treatment options a healthcare professional may recommend to someone with lupus.

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Prednisone is a type of corticosteroid that healthcare professionals may recommend for treating lupus. It is a synthetic anti-inflammatory medication that derives from the steroid hormone cortisone.

The adrenal glands produce natural steroid hormones, such as glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. Corticosteroids typically have glucocorticoid effects, such as regulating inflammation and suppressing the immune system’s reactions.

As a corticosteroid, prednisone has anti-inflammatory effects, helping to reduce:

A person with lupus may take prednisone in several forms, including:

  • pills
  • injections
  • creams

Lupus symptoms often respond quickly to corticosteroids such as prednisone.

Healthcare professionals often lower a person’s dose of the medication once their lupus symptoms respond to it. They typically continue to reduce the dose until the individual no longer needs the drug.

The longer a person uses prednisone, the more challenging it may become to lower the dose. Additionally, if someone stops taking the medication suddenly, it may harm their body.

There are several possible side effects of prednisone. Adverse effects are common in people who take high doses of the medication or use it over a long period of time.

A high dose of prednisone is 40 milligrams per day or more.

The main adverse effects of prednisone include:

Other potential adverse effects include:

A person should speak with a doctor about potential side effects before taking new medications and report any severe or unexpected reactions.

Other possible treatments healthcare professionals may recommend for people with lupus include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications include ibuprofen and naproxen. They may help reduce mild pain and swelling in the muscles and joints.
  • Antimalarial drugs: Medications that can prevent or treat malaria, such as hydroxychloroquine, may also treat:
  • BLyS-specific inhibitors: These medications limit the number of abnormal B cells the body creates. B cells are a type of lymphocyte that produce antibodies as part of the immune system. One type of BLyS-specific inhibitor, belimumab, blocks the action of certain proteins, changing a person’s abnormal immune response.
  • Chemotherapy drugs: Doctors may only use these medications that suppress the immune system in severe cases of lupus, such as when the disease affects a major organ and other treatments do not work. Chemotherapy medications can cause serious side effects as they lower the body’s ability to fight infections.

A person with lupus may also require other medications to help treat conditions linked to lupus. These may include blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood from clotting to reduce a person’s risk of stroke or heart attack.

A person should consult a doctor and inform them if they develop any new symptoms of lupus. These symptoms could be due to a flare or certain medications, including prednisone.

If a person’s symptoms worsen over time, they should also speak with a doctor.

A person may also wish to contact a doctor if medications are not improving their symptoms.

If a person experiences severe lupus symptoms, they should seek immediate medical care. These symptoms may include:

Lupus is a chronic disease that affects several areas of the body. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.

Prednisone is a medication that people may use to treat some lupus symptoms. It is a corticosteroid that has anti-inflammatory effects. The medication may help reduce swelling, tenderness, and pain.

Some possible side effects of prednisone include high blood sugar levels, insomnia, increased appetite, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and edema.

Other treatments for lupus may include NSAIDs, antimalarial medications, BLyS-specific inhibitors, and chemotherapy drugs.

A person with lupus should speak with a healthcare professional to determine which treatments may work best for them. Similarly, people should speak with a doctor if they experience any severe symptoms of lupus or if any treatments are not helping.