Blue Ridge Mountains

My Experience with Prednisone

Prednisone is a steroid used to treat a variety of diseases or conditions, especially those associated with inflammation.  I nicknamed this the devil’s drug due to its terrible side effects, but I do have to say I am grateful for its existence and there are times I would have been worse off it than on it.

I encountered the following side effects while taking prednisone:

  • Not sleeping – 60 mg kept me awake the majority of the night.  2-3 hours seemed to be the max amount of shut eye I could catch each night.  I would wake up at 4AM, completely wired and researching anything you could think of on my phone.
  • Dry Skin, particularly on my calves
  • Burning skin that felt like sunburn
  • Swollen Feet, ankles, and hands
  • Hot flashes (I walked around outside in a t-shirt in the middle of the winter completely comfortable)
  • Blood sugar spikes
  • Oral Thrush that required a visit to the hospital
  • Increased appetite / carb cravings
  • Weight gain – though in my case, it was healthy and needed
  • Moon Face (see picture)
  • Sensation of water retention/bloating in my gut
  • Dry/bloody noses
  • Emotional numbness
  • Increased heart rate (my heart rate rarely went below 100 bpm while flaring and on prednisone)
  • Joint Pain in my knees that required a hospital visit

After tapering off Prednisone, I began to have a different type of joint pain that affected just about every joint in my body.  My husband said I had the “old lady walk”.  My ankles, hips, wrists, and finger joints were the worst.  The doctors believed it related to the UC, but in my unprofessional opinion, I believe it was related to the Prednisone taper.

Angela with Prednisone moon face and her sister Christina

Me with my moon face and my sister.

A few ways I learned to cope with the side effects of Prednisone:

  • A few ways I learned to cope with the side effects of Prednisone:
  • Melatonin was recommended for sleep by the hospital but was only of mild help.
  • Valerian Root was a great find and has potent calming and anti-anxiety affects, it was also only mildly helpful with sleep, but does wonders for stress and anxiety.  I would recommend the Gaia brand – see attached photo.
  • Ice helped ease joint paint
  • Trazadone was my most successful sleep aid and allowed me to begin sleeping 6+ hours at night.  This was recommended by my primary care physician.
  • My primary care physician also recommended CeraVe Lotion which began clearing up my dry, scaling skin within the day of the first use.
Valerian Root

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