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Corticosteroids for Nephrotic Syndrome


Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
prednisoloneOrapred, Pediapred, Prelone
prednisoneOrapred, Pediapred, Prelone

Both prednisone and prednisolone are oral medicines. You take them by mouth. How much you take depends on your body size. Most often you take it daily for 4 to 8 weeks.

How It Works

Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory medicines. They act to reduce swelling in the body caused by nephrotic syndrome.

Why It Is Used

People take corticosteroids for nephrotic syndrome to help restore the kidney's normal function and remove extra fluid from the body.

How Well It Works

More than 9 out of 10 children who have minimal change disease get better with corticosteroids.1

Corticosteroids work best for nephrotic syndrome caused by minimal change disease (also called nil disease), lupus, or glomerulonephritis.2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Callor other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Signs of an infection, such as a sore throat, fever, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting that won't go away.
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Changes in your eyes, including blurred vision or eye pain.
  • Muscle cramps, pain, or weakness.
  • Changes in skin, including acne or reddish purple lines.
  • Increased thirst, especially with frequent urination.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Increased appetite.
  • Nervousness or restlessness.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Corticosteroids can keep your immune system from fighting infection. When you are taking this medicine (and even when you have finished taking it), try not to be around people who are sick. And make sure you talk to your doctor before you get any vaccinations.

People who take corticosteroids for more than 2 to 3 months should take calcium and vitamin D supplements or other medicines, such as bisphosphonates, to prevent osteoporosis. For more information, see the Medications section of the topic Osteoporosis. Your doctor may want you to have a bone density test to check for osteoporosis.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Management of childhood onset nephrotic syndrome. Pediatrics, 124(2): 747–757. Available online: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/124/2/747.

  2. Lee BK, Vincenti FG (2013). Diagnosis of medical renal disease. In JW McAninch, TF Lue, eds., Smith and Tanagho's General Urology, 18th ed., pp. 529–539. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerTushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology
Last RevisedMay 8, 2013

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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