To understand more about some other influences on Lauren’s health and maybe some of her actions, I will present some of the side effects that an individual may have from taking Prednisone. In most cases a patient will only take small doses over a fairly short period and may never see any of these or possibly only for a few days. Another factor is the age that a person begins taken Prednisone, the dosage level, and how long that the dosage was taken without interruption. Prednisone is a man-made steroid. It is very similar to cortisol, a hormone your body makes naturally. Cortisol helps you regulate your blood pressure, heart rate, and response to stress. Prednisone is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, blood disorders, breathing problems, severe allergies, skin diseases, cancer, eye problems, and immune system disorders. Most of the time this is prescribed with an antibiotic to fight the infection. In Lauren’s case, severe sinus infections including ear, throat, and eyes.
Your body generally works to make sure you have a consistent level of cortisol. However, this can change when prednisone is in your body for three weeks or longer. Your body senses the prednisone and uses it like cortisol. In response, your body then lowers the amount of cortisol it makes naturally. It takes your body time to adjust how much cortisol it makes based on the amount of prednisone you take. When you stop taking prednisone, your body needs just as much time to readjust its cortisol production. If you stop taking prednisone suddenly, your body can’t make enough cortisol right away to compensate. This can cause a condition called prednisone withdrawal.
Lauren was a small child, much smaller than her sister and most of the girls her age. Even as her younger sister (6 years younger) was still in elementary, Lauren could wear her clothes as hand-me-downs. Lauren’s best friend in the 5th grade was more than a foot taller than Lauren. In some cases, delayed puberty is found among people who take prednisone, especially for people who are 2-9 old taking certain other medications. To be clear, no doctor has told us that prednisone has caused any of Lauren’s health or other issues, but that should not surprise anyone. Below are side effects that patients are told to watch for (in those tiny words that seem to describe everything in the world).
Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:
•bloody or black, tarry stools
•confusion, excitement, restlessness, a false sense of well-being
•eye pain, decreased or blurred vision, or bulging eyes
•fever, sore throat, sneezing, cough, or other signs of infection, wounds that will not heal
•frequent passing of urine
•mental depression, mood swings, mistaken feelings of self-importance or of being mistreated
•muscle cramps or weakness
•pain in hips, back, ribs, arms, shoulders, or legs
•rounding out of face
•skin problems, acne, thin and shiny skin
•swelling of feet or lower legs
•unusual bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin
•unusual tiredness or weakness
•weight gain or weight loss
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome).
•diarrhea or constipation
•increased or decreased appetite
•nervousness, restlessness, or difficulty sleeping
•unusual increased growth of hair on the face or body
Symptoms of prednisone withdrawal:
Prednisone withdrawal is different from how we typically imagine withdrawal. That is, prednisone withdrawal doesn’t cause you to crave prednisone. It’s not an addictive medication. Still, it does affect your body physically and it can disrupt several of your body’s functions.
The symptoms of prednisone withdrawal can include: severe fatigue, weakness, body aches, & joint pain.
Depending on how long you’ve been taking prednisone, your withdrawal symptoms may last from a few weeks to up to 12 months. This time will likely be much shorter if you follow your doctor’s instructions for slowly tapering your dosage of prednisone when you stop taking it.
Million dollar question: “Is it possible that Prednisone could have been part of Lauren developing Dysautonomia?” I wish we knew, but we don’t. Lauren was still small for her age starting middle-school and looked much younger than many of the girls in her grade. Did that cause additional emotional issues for her? I expect every woman could give me her opinion on that. I know how a boy that age would feel. It is not unusual for kids to be more involved with others that they did activities with, sports, choir, and other groups. Lauren had a lot of doctor appointments and therapy sessions and she did not normally ride the bus to school. When Lauren was in high school, she was a little taller with a figure that was much fuller and she appeared to be older than her age.
More questions: Did those changes in how Lauren looked, cause some girls to shy away or did it have an impact on the type of boys that showed interest in her? We know (like it or not) that we are judged by the company we keep. High school years are some of our most important years when we are developing our ability to handle the “highs” and the “lows” in relationships. Most of us are able to laugh at the things done in high school because our experiences were a mixed bag, but mostly good memories
Please pray that Jesus will bring someone close to Lauren and provide some supportive advice that will help her remember the things she has known about Jesus most of her life. Please pray for her family to help them be strong during this battle with Satan and the things of this world.
Thank you for your support.
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19-20 English Standard Version (ESV)