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How long can you take prednisone safely?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Sep 1, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

There is no set limit on how long you can safely take prednisone. It depends on the dose of prednisone and the condition being treated. It may be prescribed short term or long term. The dosage will be adjusted or stopped based on your response or lack of response to the medication.

Some conditions, like an allergic reaction, may only need a short course of prednisone. Long-term diseases may require longer treatment. For example, a flare of multiple sclerosis may require treatment for a month. In diseases that require long-term treatment, prednisone can be given as alternate day therapy (ADT). ADT is safer than every day therapy, and it may continue as long as necessary, depending on your response and development of side effects or complications.

To reduce side effects of prednisone, your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose over the shortest time that is effective.

Prednisone is an oral medication called a glucocorticoid. It works by blocking inflammation and can be used to treat many diseases, such as:

  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Skin diseases like psoriasis
  • Allergic reactions or rashes
  • Asthma
  • Inflammation from cancer or other conditions
  • Certain respiratory, gastrointestinal or blood diseases
  • Long-term inflammatory diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis.

The use of prednisone may be limited by side effects such as:

  • Fluid or sodium retention
  • Muscle weakness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Increased risk for diabetes.

Many other side effects and complications are possible. In children, prednisone may suppress growth.

References
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine DailyMed. Prednisone. December 2020. Available at: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=263ed4fa-3c29-4abb-9cb1-bc016bd34a05&version=3#. [Accessed July 29, 2021].
  2. Drugs.com. Prednisone. December 2020. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/pro/prednisone.html. [Accessed July 29, 2021].

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