Prednisolone is an artificially produced active substance belonging to the group of glucocorticoids. This group is often grouped under the well-known name "cortisone". In its effects and side effects prednisolone is similar to the hormone cortisol or hydrocortisone produced in the adrenal cortex of the human body. It can be used in many different dosage forms.
Prednisolone as tablets, ointments & Co.
For internal and therefore systemic use, the active ingredient is available in tablet form or as infusion or injection solutions. Prednisolone should only be used locally, so you can use suppositories, ointments, creams or tinctures. These forms may contain prednisolone itself or other drug forms such as prednisone, the prednisolone precursor, or the water-soluble form prednisolone acetate.
How does Prednisolone work?
Like the endogenous hormone cortisone, prednisolone is also immunosuppressive, thus inhibiting the immune system. This makes it anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic. Prednisolone prevents inflammatory cells from migrating into damaged tissue and causing an excessive inflammatory response. This is the therapeutic benefit of this drug.
In addition, prednisolone affects carbohydrate metabolism and fat metabolism, so over-dosing with prednisolone or prolonged prednisone therapy can cause unpleasant side-effects.
Areas of application of this cortisone
Sometimes, treatment with cortisone may be important or even vital. An overview of indications for which therapy with prednisolone is possible, we give here.
- Many allergies, such as severe hay fever, allergic skin inflammation, allergic eye inflammation or even severe allergic shock, are treated with cortisone to prevent the immune system from overreacting.
- Pulmonary diseases such as bronchial asthma or chronic obstructive bronchitis (smoker's cough) can be so severe that the patient would not be able to breathe without the inhibition of inflammation. Likewise, patients with other lung diseases (eg pseudokrupp) may be dependent on therapy with prednisolone.
- In the so-called Addison's disease, the adrenal cortex of the human body can not produce enough cortisol, there is a deficiency. Then the missing glucocorticoid has to be replaced by artificial cortisones like the prednisolone.
- A disturbance of the brain gland causes too little stimulation of the adrenal cortex. A lack of glucocorticoids in the body is also the result here. Another frequent cause of prednisolone therapy is chronic inflammation of the joints (polyarthritis) or rheumatic diseases.
Prednisolone helps with autoimmune diseases
Most autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus or collagenosis are treated with cortisone. These include the chronic inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis as well as some inflammatory kidney disease.
Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis can also be treated with prednisolone. Also, some forms of headache or a hearing loss are alleviated in this way. After organ transplantation prednisolone is used to prevent rejection. If an acute rejection is already in progress, the active ingredient can also be used.
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy. Prednisolone can relieve these side effects of some cancer treatments.
The dose of prednisolone prescribed by the doctor always depends on the condition, its severity and other individual factors. Patients with many other medical conditions need a different dose than mostly healthy patients. Particularly in children, the active ingredient must be adapted exactly to need, size, weight and age. Prednisolone should therefore always be taken in consultation with the treating physician and exactly as directed.
The body's own cortisol has a circadian rhythm, that is, it is increasingly released in the morning. Therefore, the highest dose of prednisolone in the morning should be taken to become similar to the natural hormone behavior. Prednisone tablets should be taken with plenty of fluids, preferably during or immediately after a meal. If severe side effects or allergic reactions to the drug occur, a doctor should always be consulted.
Discontinuation of prednisolone
An abrupt release of prednisolone can increase side effects and confuse the patient's hormonal balance. Better is a slow withdrawal of drugs with this drug. This is called "skimming". Prednisolone should therefore be slowly reduced in the dose until it can finally be discontinued.
Instructions for use
- Every treatment with prednisolone should be monitored regularly by a doctor.
- In allergies to prednisolone preparations, this drug must not be taken.
- There are situations in which the body relies on a well-functioning immune system to protect against infections. Therefore, for acute viral infections (such as cold sores, chickenpox), eight weeks before or after vaccinations or lymph node swelling after a tuberculosis vaccine no medication should be taken with cortisone.
- During pregnancy and lactation, prednisolone should only be taken if it is considered necessary by the doctor.
- Since prednisolone interferes with the body's sugar metabolism, it should not be taken in a chronic metabolic disorder such as diabetes mellitus. Even in patients with osteoporosis or difficult-to-control hypertension, a careful consideration of the need should be made.
- Patients with severe hypertension should refrain from using prednisolone. If necessary, regular medical checks are essential.
- Also ophthalmological checks should be performed to quickly detect side effects in the area of the eyes.
- Because therapy with prednisolone can have effects on mood and concentration, patients may be compromised and should not actively drive or operate machinery.
- Prednisolone may interact with other medications such as analgesics, blood pressure medicines, certain antibiotics, diabetes medications, or the pill.
Despite many warnings and possible side effects, it should not be forgotten that cortisone is a vital hormone. Treatment with prednisolone can relieve many chronic and acute illnesses very well.