I recently was prescribed prednisone (a corticosteroid) for a nasty poison ivy rash I contracted from my garden, my dog or one of my children. I have horrible allergies and know to avoid contact with anything looking remotely like poison ivy, so the fact I got it without seeing it had me stumped.
I had never been on prednisone before, and had heard from the doctor about the side effects which include irritability, weight gain, night-sweats and low-potassium, among others. I didn’t experience any of those (thank goodness, I’m trying to lose weight, not gain weight). I experienced elevated mood and increased productivity. I wondered why prednisone isn’t prescribed for mood disorders, as I felt better on prednisone than I had felt during four months of taking Prozac® a few years ago.
The morning after I started taking prednisone, I woke up with a crazy urge to go running. I knew something was going on, because I never “feel” like going running. While on the prescription, I cleaned my whole house, did projects I had been putting off, was particularly cheery, and was ultra-productive at work.
I was curious about my reaction to prednisone, especially since I heard from friends and relatives who had experienced adverse reactions to it. They talked about the irritability, headaches, gaining weight, and having thyroid issues. I wanted to roll in poison ivy to be able to stay on this seemingly wonder drug.
It’s a steroid, but not like anabolic steroids which have received a bad name from use and abuse by body builders. Corticosteroids are drugs that are closely related to cortisol, hormones produced by the adrenal gland. Prednisone is typically prescribed for inflammatory conditions, like my acute allergy to urushiol inducing contact dermatitis, and everything from MS to lupus and cancer, and for preventing body organ transplant rejection. It works by suppressing the body’s immune response and reduces swelling and allergic-type reactions.
So in my case, the drug was prescribed to halt my allergic reaction to urushiol, the organic oil toxin found in poison ivy.