Will the Side Effects from Prednisone Lessen or Go Away?

Certain Side Effects From Prednisone Are Permanent

Prednisone is a medication that is often used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), as well as a host of other diseases and conditions. It can be very effective in getting acute IBD symptoms under control, but the list of potential side effects that this drug can cause is extensive. 

Most prednisone side effects will go away as the dose is lowered and then the drug is stopped altogether. Knowing about the potential for side effects goes a long way towards minimizing them and coping with them when they do happen. If your doctor has prescribed prednisone, it's because the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks of the side effects. Below is a discussion of the potential prednisone side effects, when they occur, which are temporary, and which could be permanent.

Prednisone side effects
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell

Why Is Prednisone Used?

In some cases, such as for an acute inflammation like an upper respiratory tract infection, the course of prednisone might be short; it's only used for a few days or weeks. People with IBD or other inflammatory conditions, however, may find their physicians have prescribed them prednisone for months or even years. The goal of IBD treatment is typically to wean a patient off the steroids, but sometimes it can be difficult. Some people can taper their drug dosage down to a certain point, but then symptoms return and they must bump it back up again.

The goal of treatment in IBD is always to induce remission with a maintenance drug that has fewer side effects, and discontinue the prednisone.

Types of Prednisone Side Effects

Where unwanted side effects are concerned, physicians will often refer to them as adverse effects, because that is a better description. Some of the adverse effects from prednisone can be very upsetting, especially physical ones such as facial "mooning" (the face taking on a moon-like swollen shape), acne, and increased hair growth (hirsutism).   Increased appetite, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping may be caused by prednisone and can negatively affect quality of life.

Once prednisone is discontinued, side effects go away. How long it will take to get the dose low and finally down to nothing depends on the length of time that prednisone was used and the dosage. The longer the prednisone was taken and the higher the dose, the longer it will take to taper down and stop it.

The body itself produces a substance that is equivalent to about 5 mg of prednisone. A short course of 10 mg of prednisone a day may not cause side effects. However, either a dosage of 10 to 20 mg a day for a month or more—or a dosage of more than 20 mg a day for any length of time—could cause some adverse effects.

Some Side Effects That May Be Permanent

As the prednisone dosage is tapered down below 10 mg a day and eventually discontinued, the temporary side effects will lessen and reverse. It should be noted, however, that some potential adverse effects of prednisone are permanent, and discontinuing the drug will not reverse them. This includes glaucoma, cataracts, osteoporosis (bone weakness), and osteonecrosis (bone death). 

A Word From Verywell

No one wants to be put on prednisone but there's no denying that, for many people, it gets results and calms inflammation quickly. People with IBD who have concerns about side effects should discuss them with a physician. There may be ways to avoid certain side effects, such as by taking doses earlier in the day to lessen the effect on sleep. It's also important to discuss how long the prednisone will be needed and what the plan is to stop the prednisone altogether. Knowing the answers to these questions can help in getting through a course of prednisone without quite so many struggles with side effects.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Carter MJ, Lobo AJ, Travis SP. Guidelines for the management of inflammatory bowel disease in adults. Gut. 2004;53 Suppl 5:V1-16. doi:10.1136/gut.2004.043372

  2. Lozada F, Silverman S, Migliorati C. Adverse side effects associated with prednisone in the treatment of patients with oral inflammatory ulcerative diseases. J Am Dent Assoc. 1984;109(2):269-70.

  3. Fleishaker DL, Mukherjee A, Whaley FS, Daniel S, Zeiher BG. Safety and pharmacodynamic dose response of short-term prednisone in healthy adult subjects: a dose ranging, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016;17:293. doi:10.1186/s12891-016-1135-3

  4. Feldman PA, Wolfson D, Barkin JS. Medical management of Crohn's disease. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2007;20(4):269-81. doi:10.1055/s-2007-991026

  5. Efentaki P, Altenburg A, Haerting J, Zouboulis CC. Medium-dose prednisolone pulse therapy in alopecia areata. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009;1(6):310-3. doi:10.4161/derm.1.6.11236

  6. Min KH, Rhee CK, Jung JY, Suh MW. Characteristics of adverse effects when using high dose short term steroid regimen. Korean J Audiol. 2012;16(2):65-70. doi:10.7874/kja.2012.16.2.65

  7. Liu D, Ahmet A, Ward L, et al. A practical guide to the monitoring and management of the complications of systemic corticosteroid therapy. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2013;9(1):30. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-9-30

  8. James ER. The etiology of steroid cataract. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2007;23(5):403-20. doi:10.1089/jop.2006.0067

  9. Jenkins JS, Sampson PA. Conversion of cortisone to cortisol and prednisone to prednisolone. Br Med J. 1967;2(5546):205-7. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-9-30

Additional Reading

  • MedlinePlus. Prednisone. U.S. National Library of Medicine 1 Sept 2010.
  • UW Medicine. Corticosteroids for Arthritis. University of Washington–Seattle Dec 30 2004.