Prednisone is a steroid prescription medication that is used to decrease the body's immune response. This medication can be administered in pill, liquid and intravenous forms and is prescribed for several different problems. These include severe allergic response, prevention of organ transplant rejection and chronic autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, prednisone can cause side effects which can be problematic including weight gain, increased susceptibility to illness, hyperglycemia and osteoporosis. There are however, steps you can take to stay healthy while taking prednisone.
Emphasize nutrient dense foods that are unprocessed, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy. According to Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, individuals taking steroid medications may experience increased cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. Eating a diet that helps you avoid foods that have a lot of fat, sugar and cholesterol can help keep those levels down in your blood. Unprocessed foods also contribute more nutrients to your diet, which are often lost as a result of taking steroids.
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Increase your consumption of foods that contain calcium and vitamin D including milk and fortified cereals. The Mayo Clinic explains that supplementing these nutrients can help decrease thinning of the bones due to steroid treatment. If you are considering taking calcium or vitamin D supplements, speak with your doctor first because these may interact with certain other medications or medical conditions.
Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercise has several benefits for individuals who are taking prednisone including attaining a healthy weight, stabilizing blood glucose and strengthening bones. Focus on activities that require weight-bearing such as brisk walking, running or circuit training. Remain aware of your energy levels and if you experience significant pain or poor endurance when exercising, decrease the duration or intensity until you become more physically fit.
Maintain good hygiene habits. Taking prednisone decreases the body's immunity, making you more susceptible to infection and illnesses that you might not otherwise contract. Wash your hands often and carry an alcohol based hand sanitizer for use after using public items such as shopping carts and gym equipment. See a healthcare professional if you notice any signs of illness such as fever, fatigue or nasal congestion. You may require a course of antibiotic treatment in order to prevent getting worse or a decrease in your already compromised immunity.
Have your eyes examined every six months. According to Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, prednisone can increase your risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. Both of these conditions can cause significant vision impairment and can lead to blindness. If you are experiencing vision problems, see your doctor. Other conditions such as diabetes can cause blurred vision.
Check with your doctor before making significant dietary or activity changes.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.