Prednisone vs Prednisolone: Key Points

Prednisone and Prednisolone are synthetic immunosuppressant steroids used for treating autoimmune ailments and inflammations. They work by mimicking the action of cortisol (natural body steroid produced by the adrenal gland) where they reduce the levels of chemicals responsible for inflammation and increased immune systems activities. Besides their main pharmaceutical role, Prednisone and Prednisolone treat a range of health disorders, including but not limited to skin diseases, arthritis, asthma, allergies, colitis, and bronchitis. However, the drugs differ in chemical preparation and chemical properties, they contain hence exhibit a number of significant differences in matters pertaining to dosage, drug interaction and side effects. Therefore, the two similar as they may sound should not be confused.

General information

Prednisone: Marketed under its brand name Rayos or Intensol, Prednisone is a delayed release steroid. It is a recent drug as it was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 26th July, 2012. The original name of the medicine during its first availability in the market was Lodotra. The manufacture of Prednisone is attributed to Horizon Pharmacy Inc., an Irish biopharmaceutical company that deals with identifying and developing quality medical drugs. The medication other than suppressing the immune system and inflammation specifically treats rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), psoriatic arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Prednisolone: Available under various brand names, including Orapred, Pediapred, Orapred ODT, and Flo-Pred, Prednisolone is a steroid with high levels of glucocorticoid and low mineralocorticoid activity which explains its treatment of a plethora of diseases. The drug was discovered and approved for use in 1955; now, this medicine tops the list of essential and safest medications as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Its discovery was influenced by microbiological oxidization of cortisone conducted by Schering Plough Corporation under Arthur Nobile and colleagues which proved useful.


The dosage of Prednisone and Prednisolone is more or less similar. Both drugs are taken orally. The typical concentration administered at the beginning is 5mg. However, the concentration in two drugs can increase to a maximum of 60mg. Their prescription concentration varies in relation to the age of the patient and the magnitude of their health situation. Children are not allowed to take prednisone and prednisolone.

Intake of Prednisone and Prednisolone should be done after meals to reduce stomach and intestines irritation. Patience is a virtue that should be adopted while taking Prednisone and prednisolone drugs as corticosteroids take time before they begin being effective. Abrupt taking of recommended dosages in Prednisone and Prednisolone is not advised as it may lead to undesirable and severe side effects hence you should systematically plan on how to stop taking the medications.

Prednisone: Prednisone tablets should be taken with a full glass of water. The liquid form of Prednisone should be taken using a medical spoon and not a teaspoon as you may overdose or underdose. 9 A.M is the preferred time for taking a Prednisone daily dosage.

Prednisolone: The drug is prescribed in the form of tablets and liquids. A missed dose should not be replaced through doubling. Preferably, take the pill as soon as you remember or wait till the next day and continue with your dosage.

Side Effects

Both of these drugs are effective if taken in the correct form. However, they exhibit a number of similar side effects. Among the minor adverse effects are hypertension, potassium loss, vomiting, acne development, thinning skin, vomiting, weight gain, nausea, muscle weakness, psychiatric disturbance, restlessness, and fluid retention. Hiccups, cataracts, slow growth in children, glaucoma, growth of facial hair, and irregular menses are the severe effects of taking Prednisone and Prednisolone. Seek immediate medical attention if the minor side effects persist and if you experience any severe ones.

Prednisone: Difficulty in sleeping is a mild side effect of this drug that is not exhibited in Prednisolone. Severe side effects only manifested by Prednisone are vision change and rounding of the upper back.

Prednisolone: Convulsion and peptic ulcers are other severe effects only depicted in rare cases when Prednisolone is taken.

Drug Interactions

Prednisone and Prednisolone react differently to various drugs. Apparently, some of the medications like Estrogen, Warfarin, Aspirin, and Potassium cannot be combined with these two medications. When combined with Aspirin or any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, there is an increased risk of development of stomach ulcers. In relation to Estrogen, while taken with Prednisone and Prednisolone, this medicine increases the normal levels of these two drugs which result in severe side effects.

Warfarin is known for increasing the levels of both drugs that in turn alter their functionality hence should be monitored closely if taken along with the immunosuppressants or avoided completely. Combining potassium-depleting drugs with these corticosteroids increases the risk of hypokalemia hence should not be used while taking either of the medicines. Alcohol should be reduced or avoided when taking Prednisone and Prednisolone. There are more medications, which interact adversely with these two drugs. Therefore, consult medical practitioners before beginning to take the drugs.

Prednisone: Along with the drugs mentioned above, phenytoin medication such as Dilantin when blended with Prednisone reduces its effect on the patient. It should therefore be avoided or when taken the dose of Prednisone should be increased. Fluoroquinolones, including Levaquin and Cipro, when absorbed under the Prednisone medication increases the risk of tendon rupture especially among the aged.

Prednisolone: Prednisolone should not be taken with the Cyclosporine tablets. The reason is that combination of Prednisolone and Cyclosporine drugs increases the activity of Cyclosporine which could, in turn, lead to events of seizures on the patients.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding effects

Ideally, corticosteroids are known to have the tendency of crossing the placenta hence reaching the fetus and severely affecting it. Prednisone and Prednisolone are however an exception because they rarely pass through the placenta. These drugs can therefore be used during pregnancy as the chances of their reaching the fetus are close to zero. Prednisone and Prednisolone should not be taken by lactating mother as there are adverse effects the drugs may cause to the baby.