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How long does it take for prednisone to work?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 1, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Prednisone usually works very quickly, within a few hours to days of taking the first dose depending on the condition you are treating. If the prescribed dose of prednisone is effective at reducing your inflammation, then you may notice an effect within hours.

The time prednisone takes to work may depend on:

  • The condition prednisone is treating. Sometimes, it is used to manage a long-lasting disease. In this case, it helps control your illness, but it will not cure it
  • The dose of prednisone. The prescribed dose of prednisone must be adequate to reduce the level of inflammation. The dose of prednisone may be changed periodically during treatment to ensure you are on the lowest effective dose.

Immediate-release prednisone formulations, which come in tablet or solution form, absorb into your bloodstream within 2 hours. Delayed-release tablets take a bit longer to be absorbed, about 6 hours. Prednisone is used to manage many different conditions. Which means the time it takes prednisone to work is highly dependent on the formulation and condition being treated.

Prednisone should be taken with food or milk to decrease stomach upset.

What affects prednisone's absorption?

Antacids may decrease the amount of prednisone available in the bloodstream. Consider separating doses by at least two hours.

Bile acid sequestrants may decrease the amount of prednisone absorbed by the body. Thus, treatment should be monitored closely.

How long does prednisone stay in the body?

Prednisone’s half-life is two to three hours; this means it will be fully eliminated from your body around 11 to 16.5 hours after you take it. If you have been taking prednisone regularly, it should not be stopped suddenly. Sudden stops may cause an imbalance of natural steroids in the body. This may induce symptoms such as:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in skin color
  • Sores in the mouth
  • A craving for salt

Your health care provider can devise a tapering schedule.

What is prednisone?

Prednisone reduces inflammation in your body by blocking the chemicals involved in the inflammatory process. Prednisone treats various conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and many other inflammatory diseases. It belongs to the class of medicines known as corticosteroids.

References
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rayos (prednisone). July 2012. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/202020s000lbl.pdf. [Accessed August 19, 2022].
  2. American College of Rheumatology (ACR). Prednisone (Deltasone). 2022. Available at: https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Treatments/Prednisone-Deltasone. [Accessed August 19, 2022].
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Prednisone. March 15, 2020. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601102.html. [Accessed August 19, 2022].
  4. Prednisone. Arthritis Society Canada. Updated 12, 2021. https://arthritis.ca/treatment/medication/medication-reference-guide/medications/prednisone#:~:text=How%20long%20will%20it%20take,after%20taking%20the%20first%20dose. [Accessed August 19, 2022].

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