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The Good and Bad Side of Prednisone

I have mentioned this once or twice over the years (actually I mention it all the time...note the sarcasm). But I really hate wildfire smoke.

A year ago, Middle Son ended up in the intensive care unit (ICU) during a local forest fire that filled the valley with wildfire smoke. Watching his little body struggle and seeing all the wires and monitors (especially the heart monitor) is something I can never forget.

This time, it was my turn to end up in the hospital from wildfire smoke. Luckily I was not as bad as he had been all those years ago, but I did spend a long day in the emergency room (ER) and was pretty sick. Not to mention scared!

Should I go to the hospital?

I always teach those with asthma to listen to their body and remember when they should go to the hospital. Suddenly, I could hear my own words echoing in my head. I could hear myself repeating "Go to the hospital if:"1

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  • Your albuterol doesn't seem to be helping
  • You cannot say a phrase or full sentence without stopping and gasping for breath
  • You see a blue tint to your fingernails or lips
  • You are breathing fast (panting)
  • You have extreme shortness of breath (can't breathe in or out all the way)

Months before, I had listened to a webinar from Allergy and Asthma Network, and the doctor focused on a couple more emergency symptoms to watch for:2

I realized that I had almost all of the signs of an asthma emergency! I also knew I was working way too hard to breathe. That's all I could focus on – trying to breathe in and out.

The other thing I have heard in countless webinars from doctors is "If you think you should...and the next word is go to the hospital...the answer is yes!" Listen to your body and that nagging voice. If you wonder if you are sick enough to go to the hospital, you probably are.

I managed to gasp out a sentence to my husband that I needed to go to the hospital. Once we arrived, they quickly took me back, started albuterol treatments, and gave me a liquid steroid. It is a really strong medicine, but I knew I would need a week's worth of prednisone pills to pull out of this asthma flare.

The good and bad side effects of prednisone

On the drive home, I warned my husband that I was going to be mean. Of course, every mom is mean, right?! But you can also have other "fun" side effects:3

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Mood changes
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • And many more!

My kids were on prednisone a lot when they were younger. They were in the hospital 12 times for asthma, and I remember the doctor warning me that prednisone can also suppress the immune system.

Not a great thing to happen during a pandemic, but I did not have a choice to not have prednisone.

The bad side of prednisone is that there are a lot of temporary side effects. The good side of prednisone is it can literally save your life during an asthma flare.

Who else has had "fun" on prednisone? Did your family go into hiding? Did your co-workers avoid you? Did you stay up all night and eat everything in the fridge? Did you yell at every driver on the road?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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