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Fatty Liver Side Effect of Prednisone

by
author image Chizorom Ebisike
Chizorom Ebisike is a physician who has worked in both clinical research and medical writing since 2009. She has published articles on the respiratory system and nutrition. She has earned a Doctor of Medicine from University of Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in nutritional sciences from Rutgers University.
Fatty Liver Side Effect of Prednisone
Senior woman with a headache holding her head Photo Credit RuslanGuzov/iStock/Getty Images

Fatty liver is a nonpermanent, or reversible, condition involving the accumulation of triglycerides -- a fat molecule -- inside cells of the liver by a process called steatosis. As fats accumulate in the cell, they displace vital cell structures and eventually distort the shape of the nucleus. According to the California Pacific Medical Center, the use of prednisone -- a steroid medication -- may result in the development of fatty liver. Consult a physician before taking prednisone.

Types of Fatty Liver

Alcoholic and nonalcoholic comprise the two main types of fatty liver. This differentiation between alcoholic and nonalcoholic is rather appropriate, since alcohol is a major cause of fatty liver and other causes are less frequent. Regardless of cause, biopsy of the liver -- a process of acquiring a liver tissue sample -- reveals largely similar architectural deformities in the liver, but with slight differences unique to alcohol.

Uses of Prednisone

Prednisone is just one of several steriod medications. You can ingest it alone or in combination with other medications. When naturally made corticosteriods are depleted or decreased in your body, prednisone can be ingested to elevate bodily corticosteroid levels. Corticosteroids are important for the synthesis of certain hormones, such as aldosterone -- used for the regulation of salt, blood volume and pressure -- and cortisol, a hormone that helps you cope with stress. Prednisone is used in treating inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus and severe allergic reactions.

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Side Effects of Prednisone

Prednisone has many side effects, some more serious than others. Regardless, when experiencing side effects likely related to prednisone, notify a physician as soon as possible. The use of prednisone may result in dizziness, insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, acne, skin changes, increased hair growth, weight gain, tiredness, irregular menstrual cycles and headache. Other potentially serious effects include changes in vision, confusion, numbness in certain areas of the body, vomiting, irregular heartbeat and difficulty with breathing.

Avoiding Complications

Since fatty liver is a possible side effect of prednisone use, your liver function must be monitored while taking prednisone. Liver function tests (LFTs) involve the testing of blood for certain markers that may indicate liver dysfunction. Prednisone must be strictly administered at recommended doses. Doses that exceed recommendations are associated with the increased likelihood for developing side effects. Prolonged intake of high doses of prednisone may compromise the immune system and increase the likelihood for opportunistic infections, such as HIV. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, rare cases of high-dose prednisone use have resulted in the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer that only occurs if a person has a very weak immune system.

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