Life With Lupus: Take a ride into the Predni-zone

TJ Wolf

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Woman taking a white pill tablet.Danilo Alvesd/Unsplash

Take a ride into the Predni-zone

About The Author

I have the serious and deadly disease known as Lupus.

  • The version of Lupus I have is the most common, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
  • True to its name, SLE is a systemic condition throughout the body.
  • In addition, I have Lupus Anti-Coagulant and Lupus Anti-Phospholipid which causes my Lupus to impact my blood.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to be medical advice or pharmaceutical advice.

The article is simply my own story and experiences as someone with SLE.

As always, you should consult medical professionals with regard to your own health and decisions.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend?

Given I've been in active disease state, otherwise known as a "flare", for 24 of the past 27 months, Prednisone and I continue to share an unhealthy alliance against our common enemy, Lupus.

I say unhealthy alliance because as effective as Prednisone is at helping me battle the extreme pain and massive fatigue from these flares, it comes with its own adverse and unwanted effects. From my own understanding and conversations with my physicians, Prednisone is not advised for long term usage nor maintenance unless there is no other choice.

And the Prednisone is in addition to the prescription medication regimen I already take daily for Lupus and its related comorbidities...

  • Azathioprine
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Pregabalin
  • Duloxetine
  • Dilitiazem
  • Linzess
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine Transdermal Patch
  • Compound Pain Cream (Ketamine, Gabapentin, Clonidine, and Lidocaine)

I share this list so that others with Lupus can compare their own regimen, potentially explore a new option with their physician, or know that someone actually takes less than they do!

So let's learn more about Prednisone...

Prednisone

What is the medication Prednisone?

Per WebMD:

Prednisone belongs to a class of drugs known as corticosteroids. It decreases your immune system's response to various diseases to reduce symptoms such as swelling and allergic-type reactions.

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Pharmacist pointing out a medication label to a woman.National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

What is Prednisone used for?

Per WebMD:

Prednisone is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, blood disorders, breathing problems, severe allergies, skin diseases, cancer, eye problems, and immune system disorders.

Side Effects

Per WebMD:

Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, heartburn, trouble sleeping, increased sweating, or acne may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: muscle pain/cramps, irregular heartbeat, weakness, swelling hands/ankles/feet, unusual weight gain, signs of infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat), vision problems (such as blurred vision), symptoms of stomach/intestinal bleeding (such as stomach/abdominal pain, black/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds), mental/mood changes (such as depression, mood swings, agitation), slow wound healing, thinning skin, bone pain, menstrual period changes, puffy face, seizures, easy bruising/bleeding.

This medication may rarely make your blood sugar rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst/urination. If you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.

A very serious allergic reaction to this product is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Time Will Tell

I was surprised to see the side effects did not call out potential for bone fractures. There is the mention of bone pain. Perhaps that is the piece related to what my doctors educated me about. Prednsione can adversely impact your bones and cause osteoporosis.

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Picture of a hip fracture x-ray.Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz/Unsplash

Per Mayo Clinic:

Unfortunately, corticosteroids also can dramatically weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis.

To protect your bones, do weight-bearing exercise, avoid alcohol and don't smoke. Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements is another step you can take to help reduce the amount of bone loss caused by corticosteroids such as prednisone.

If you'll be taking prednisone for more than a few months and you have other risk factors for bone loss, your doctor may prescribe medications specifically designed to treat and prevent osteoporosis.

As advised, I take Calcium and Vitamin D supplements daily.

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Picture of the moon in various phases.Zoltan Tasi/Unsplash

Personally, I experience the following side effects...

  • "moon" or "puffy face" from water retention
  • muscle pain/cramps (mostly the bottom of my feet)
  • unusual weight gain (better stated as massive weight gain of 50 pounds in 2 years)
  • mental/mood changes (agitation)

Given the adverse effects above and the higher risks the medication poses, I eagerly await the day I can ween off Prednisone and discontinue.

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My primary mission is to spread awareness about the disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and many of its comorbidities. Given most physical activities cause me pain nowadays, I've taken on writing as a new hobby, form of therapy, and method to interact with others. You will find I also experiment with articles related to business and careers.

Atlanta, GA
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