What are the side effects of prednisone?

Even though the side effects of prednisone could be very serious, remember that this drug is necessary to prevent rejection. Precautions will be taken to detect these side effects and treat them before they become harmful.

Please see the guidelines below to reduce side effects while taking prednisone.

Prednisone might cause dose-related side effects, which will subside as your dosage is reduced. If any of the following symptoms occur, report them to your healthcare provider.

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased appetite, which might result in weight gain. Prednisone alters brain chemicals, which can increase hunger and fluid retention.
  • “Steroid-induced diabetes.” This might result from high doses of prednisone. This condition might or might not require treatment. If you currently have diabetes, you might have to adjust your medicine dosage to control your blood sugar.
  • Vision changes, cataracts, or glaucoma.
  • Skin changes including acne, easy bruising, thinning of the skin, stretch marks and increased sensitivity to the sun.
  • Excess hair growth on the face, back, arms, and legs.
  • Increased swelling of the face, hands, or ankles.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Stomach irritation or ulcers.
  • Mood swings and depression.
  • Joint pain and muscle weakness.
  • Increased risk of infection.
  • Increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Please see the guidelines below for information on what you can do to help treat these symptoms.

What can I do to reduce the side effects of steroid medications?

To reduce troublesome side effects, your dosage might be decreased as soon as it is safe. In the meantime, there are some daily practices that can help you prevent or decrease the side effects of prednisone. Eat well-balanced meals to avoid excess weight gain and to lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers, and bone and muscle problems, such as osteoporosis. In addition, decrease your salt intake.

In addition, there are other ways you can prevent or decrease side effects of prednisone:

  • Possible Side Effects: High blood pressure
    • What You Should Do: This can be caused by increased fluid retention. Take your medicine as prescribed, and reduce the amount of salt and fluid in your diet. Also, measure your blood pressure and record it every day. Ask your healthcare provider what your blood pressure range should be.
  • Possible Side Effects: Increased appetite, excess weight gain
    • What You Should Do: Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals, and visit a dietitian regularly to discuss ways you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Possible Side Effects: Steroid-induced diabetes
    • What You Should Do:If you formerly controlled your pre-existing diabetes without medicine, you might now need to take insulin or pills to control diabetes.
  • Possible Side Effects: Vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma
    • What You Should Do: Visit an ophthalmologist yearly.
  • Possible Side Effects: Acne
    • What You Should Do: Practice good hygiene. Wash your face with antibacterial soap to control acne and reduce the risk of infection. Avoid soaps with lanolin or cold cream, which tend to clog pores. Acne might be controlled with medicines such as benzoyl peroxide (Clearisil®). Acne subsides when your dosage is lowered.
  • Possible Side Effects: Excess hair growth
    • What You Should Do: To remove unwanted hair, use safe bleaching techniques or creams.
  • Possible Side Effects: Easy bruising
    • What You Should Do: Avoid accidental bumps and cuts by taking extra safety precautions before beginning any task.
  • Possible Side Effects: Increased sensitivity to the sun
    • What You Should Do: Avoid the sun whenever possible. When outdoors, wear a sunblock with an SPF of at least 15. Report any skin changes to your doctor.
  • Possible Side Effects: Increased swelling of the face, hands, or ankles
    • What You Should Do: Swelling is caused by fluid retention. Watch weight gain. Swelling will subside in three to four months if weight is maintained.
  • Possible Side Effects: Mouth sores
    • What You Should Do: Practice good oral hygiene to prevent mouth sores and oral infections. Report any sores to your healthcare provider. Visit your dentist every six months, and tell your transplant doctor before any dental procedures.
  • Possible Side Effects: Stomach irritation, ulcers
    • What You Should Do: Take your medicine after meals (with a full stomach) and use antacids (as directed) between meals. Report any stomach problems to your healthcare provider.
  • Possible Side Effects: Mood swings
    • What You Should Do: Try relaxation techniques.
  • Possible Side Effects: Increased risk of infection
    • What You Should Do: Avoid anyone who might have an infection, and report any signs or symptoms of infection to your doctor or nurse.
  • Possible Side Effects: Joint pain, increased risk of osteoporosis
    • What You Should Do: Avoid gaining excess weight and include low-impact exercises in your daily schedule to avoid a possible need for joint replacement.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2019.


  • United Network for Organ Sharing. Prednisone Accessed 6/18/2019.
  • MedlinePlus Prednisone Accessed 6/18/2019.

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