Prednisone is a steroid. Steroids are a group of hormones with similar chemical structures. They are normally produced by your adrenal glands, located on top of your kidneys, and your reproductive organs ovaries and testicles. Steroids help control metabolism, inflammation, immune function, salt and water balance, development of sexual characteristics and your ability to withstand the stress of illness and injury
Introduced in 1955, prednisone is a man-made replica of cortisone. The adrenal glands normally produces an amount of steroids equivalent to about 5 mg. of prednisone a day. When prescribed in doses that exceed natural levels, prednisone suppresses inflammation and can help treat a variety of diseases such as severe allergies or skin problems, asthma, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Prednisone is also used to help prevent rejection of organ transplants. Cortisone was introduce as a miracle drug. Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. Problems soon emerged. Patients taking cortisone in doses high enough to relieve inflammation routinely experienced harmful side effects. Physicians now recognize that prolonged use of cortisone-like drugs like prednisone can cause many side effects. But when serious disease occurs, the benefit of prednisone usually outweighs the potential risks. For difficult to manage conditions, prednisone can still be a miraculous medication. In general, the risk of side effects depends on the length of time you take prednisone and the amount you take. You can help limit side effects by taking the medication exactly as prescribed and reporting any problems to your doctor.