If you abruptly stop taking prednisone or taper off too quickly, you might experience prednisone withdrawal symptoms:
- Severe fatigue
- Body aches
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
Prednisone is similar to cortisol, a hormone naturally made by your adrenal glands. If you take prednisone for more than a few weeks, your adrenal glands decrease cortisol production. A gradual reduction in prednisone dosage gives your adrenal glands time to resume their normal function.
The amount of time it takes to taper off prednisone depends on the disease being treated, the dose and duration of use, and other medical considerations. A full recovery can take anywhere from a week to several months. Contact your doctor if you experience prednisone withdrawal symptoms as you are tapering off the drug.
June 19, 2020
- Firestein GS, et al., eds. Glucocorticoid therapy. In: Kelley and Firestein's Textbook of Rheumatology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 25, 2017.
- Jameson JL, et al., eds. Glucocorticoid therapy. In: Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 25, 2017.
- Broersen LHA, et al. Adrenal insufficiency in corticosteroids use: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015;100:2171.
- Adrenal insufficiency & Addison's disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/adrenal-insufficiency-addisons-disease. Accessed June 25, 2017.
- Furst, DE et al. Glucocorticoid withdrawal. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed June 25, 2017.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz. July 5, 2017.