Prednisolone

Sounds like 'pred-NISS-oh-lone'

Prednisolone is a steroid used to treat and prevent a variety of conditions that involve inflammation. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Prednisolone is also called Redipred.

Type of medicine

Also called

  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids
  • Redipred®

What is prednisolone?

Prednisolone is used to treat many conditions associated with inflammation, such as asthma, Crohn's disease and arthritis. Prednisolone works by calming or suppressing your body's immune system and is especially effective for treating flare-ups of these conditions.

Prednisolone helps to reduce the symptoms associated with these conditions – it does not cure them. Prednisolone is in a class of medicines known as corticosteroids, which is similar to the steroid hormones your body naturally makes.

In New Zealand prednisolone is available as a liquid medicine called Redipred and is mainly used for children. (Note: Tablets are available as prednisone, which are used in older children and adults.)

Dose

  • The dose for children depends on their body weight and the condition being treated and how they are responding to treatment. 
  • Your doctor will work out the amount of prednisolone that is right for your child. 
  • How often to give prednisolone depends on what condition is being treated. It can be given once daily, several times a day or on alternate days.
  • Always give prednisolone exactly as your doctor has told you.
  • The pharmacy label will tell you how much prednisolone to give your child, how often to give it and any special instructions.

How to give prednisolone

  • Timing: How often to give prednisolone depends on what condition is being treated. It can be given once daily, several times a day or on alternate days. If your child is taking prednisolone once a day or on alternate days, it is best given at the same time each day, usually in the morning after breakfast. If your child is taking prednisolone several times a day, it is best if you give the doses evenly spaced throughout the day.
  • Measuring the dose: Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe or medicine spoon, which you can get from your pharmacy. Do not use a household kitchen spoon because it does not give the correct amount.
  • If your child is sick: If your child is sick (vomits) less than 30 minutes after a dose of prednisolone, give the same dose again. But if they vomit and it is more than 30 minutes after a dose of prednisolone, they do not need to take another dose. Wait until the next normal dose.  
  • Stopping prednisolone: Continue to give prednisolone for as long as your doctor or pharmacist tells you. Some children may need a short course of prednisolone (such as 5 days) while others may need it for longer (weeks to months). If your child has been taking prednisolone regularly for longer than 2 weeks, do not stop it suddenly. Stopping suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be serious or even life threatening. Instead your child will be given a tapering dose. This means their dose of prednisolone will be gradually reduced over a few days or weeks.

Precautions while taking prednisolone

  • Tell any healthcare provider: It is important to tell any healthcare provider taking care of your child that they are taking prednisolone.
  • Increased risk of infections: Taking prednisolone for a long time can increase your child's risk of all types of infections. Tell your doctor if your child comes into contact with someone who has a contagious illness, such as chickenpox, shingles or measles, or if they feel or appear unwell.
  • Vaccines: It is safe to have most vaccines while your child is taking prednisolone. Protecting them against infection is important because prednisolone suppresses their immune system. However, vaccination with 'live vaccines' should be postponed. Ask your doctor for advice before your child has any vaccinations while they are taking prednisolone.
  • Expiry date: Redipred® must be discarded 4 weeks after opening.

Side effects

Like all medicines, prednisolone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Most side effects are related to the dose your child is taking and how long they are taking prednisolone for. Read more about taking steroids long term.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Give prednisolone in the morning or at least 3 hours before bed time.
  • Increased or decreased appetite (wanting to eat more or less)
  • Vomiting (being sick)
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • These are quite common with prednisolone and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Sudden changes in mood or behaviour
  • Signs of an allergic reaction
  • Increased bruising
  • Tell your doctor.

Learn more

Prednisolone for an asthma attack Information leaflet for parents and carers, NZ Formulary
Prednisolone for nephrotic syndrome Information leaflet for parents and carers, NZ Formulary

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 05 Feb 2021