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Prednisolone

3-minute read

Prednisolone is an active ingredient that belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are synthetic versions of cortisol. They help reduce inflammation in your body or suppress your immune system.

To get prednisolone, you must have a prescription written for you by a doctor.

Looking for a medicine?

Visit healthdirect’s list of medicines that contain prednisolone to find out more about a specific medicine.

What is prednisolone used for?

Prednisolone is used to treat many different conditions, including:

It helps reduce inflammation in your body.

Symptoms of inflammation may include swelling, redness, pain, tenderness or itching in any part of your body.

How does prednisolone work?

Prednisolone enters the cells that cause inflammation and blocks the body’s inflammatory reaction. It reduces the symptoms of some conditions, but is not a cure.

What forms of prednisolone are available?

Prednisolone is the name of the active ingredient. It is available in many different brands, which have different:

  • names
  • appearances (size, shape or colour)
  • forms (tablets, liquid, eye drops and suppositories)

No matter which brand you are prescribed, prednisolone works in the same way to treat your condition.

Risk and benefits of prednisolone

Prednisolone helps most people who take it, but some people experience side effects.

Generally, the risk of side effects is low if you take prednisolone for a short time. Your risk increases if you take high doses of prednisolone for a long time.

Common side effects of prednisolone, especially with high doses for long periods, include:

  • fluid retention, which can lead to heart problems
  • trouble sleeping
  • bloating of the face and swelling of the abdomen
  • weight gain
  • irregular periods
  • muscle cramps
  • thin skin with easy bruising and acne
  • slowed growth in children

Less common side effects of prednisolone include:

Some side effects can only be picked up by your doctor. If you take prednisolone for long periods of time, you should have regular check-ups.

See your doctor immediately or go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital if you experience any of these serious side effects:

It is important to take prednisolone as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you would like to lower your dose or stop taking prednisolone. Stopping it suddenly might cause serious side effects and can be dangerous.

For more information, read the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) for the brand of prednisolone you are taking.

Alternatives to prednisolone

Because prednisolone is used for many medical conditions, its alternatives depend on the condition you’re taking it for.

More information

Asking about your treatment or medication is important to help you understand your options. Read our guide to important questions to ask your pharmacist or doctor before taking a medicine.

You can also visit healthdirect's list of medicines that contain prednisolone to read the CMI for the brand of prednisolone prescribed.

Last reviewed: December 2018

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