Prednisone (Generic Name)

Other Names: Deltasone®

About This Drug

Prednisone is a steroid that may be used to treat cancer. This drug is given orally (by mouth).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Increase in the number of white blood cells
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Increase in facial hair
  • You could experience elevated blood sugars. Your blood glucose level will be checked as needed.
  • You could experience changes in blood chemistry. Your electrolytes will be checked as needed.
  • You may become prone to infections such as herpes zoster, fungus infections, and delayed wound healing.
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Swelling of feet
  • Mood changes, which may include depression or a feeling of extreme wellbeing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred or double vision
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Restlessness, nervousness, or irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • You may develop certain skin reactions including rash, acne, facial redness, reddish-purple lines on the skin, or shiny skin.
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Pain or burning in the stomach or abdomen
  • Mild nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Leg cramps

Sexual Problems and Reproduction Concerns

  • In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are receiving this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching.
    • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
    • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
    • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred. 
    • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated. Ask your doctor or nurse about medication to help you prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
  • Talk with your doctor or nurse if you feel you need help with moods.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Do not take this drug close to bedtime; it may cause difficulty sleeping.
  • Take with food to decrease the occurrence of upset stomach.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of Prednisone with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

 Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare but may occur in some patients. Signs of allergic reactions to this drug may include swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, shortness of breath, rash, itching, fever, chills, dizziness, and/or palpitations (feeling your heart beat rapidly). Do not take another dose of this drug and seek immediate medical treatment.

Other Instructions

  • Prednisone should be stored in its prescription bottle at room temperature
  • If instructed by your doctor check blood sugar levels during therapy and report to doctor if levels are high.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Rash or itching, dizziness or lightheadedness, or palpitations
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than twice in one day
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Blood in your vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Diarrhea of five or six stools in one day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Headache unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Muscle weakness
  • Leg cramps
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred or double vision
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Stomach or abdominal pain or burning
  • Persistent loss of appetite or loss of five pounds or more in one week
  • Extreme tiredness that interferes with normal activities
  • Rash or acne that is bothersome
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Swelling of feet or ankles
  • Weight gain of five pounds or more in one week

Revised November 2011

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA