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Description: Prednisone is a corticosteroid. In contrast to anabolic steroids (used by "bodybuilders"), corticosteroids are used in inflammatory conditions for their anti-inflammatory effects. They have a rapid onset of action, and profoundly affect many parts of the immune system as well as most other body systems. Corticosteroids are a cornerstone of treating most types of vasculitis, and are often used in combination with other immunosuppressive medications.

Side-effects: Many of the side-effects of steroids are predictable. All are related to:

  1. the amount of steroid a patient takes in his/her daily dose, and
  2. the length of time the patient remains on the medication. We emphasize that not all side-effects occur in all patients, but we list most of the possible ones in order to be fully informative.

One of the numerous potential side-effects of prednisone and other forms of corticosteroid treatment is hirsutism – excessive growth of body hair. Patients vary in the degree to which this side-effect of steroids occurs. Although some experience minimal hirsutism, the patient depicted here developed this side effect after taking 10 milligrams of prednisone for a few months.

Despite the numerous potential side-effects of corticosteroids, their introduction into patient care 50 years ago revolutionized the treatment of many diseases, including vasculitis. When used properly, these drugs save lives and avert threats to the function of important organs.

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