Does Prednisone weakened your immune system while being used for PMR

Posted by alan bruce @alanbruce, Aug 13, 2021

I have had PMR for nearly 3 1/2 years but in remission for the last two. I used Prednisone for one in half years but very low doses during the last 12 months. Question did Prednisone weaken my immune system, if so how long does it take to get my immune system back to where it was before PMR or will it.

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Hi Alan, yes prednisone does suppress the immune system, even at a low dose. It takes a while after a slow taper to stop prednisone without any side effects of withdrawal. Once you’re completely off, it can take several weeks for your adrenal glands to start producing cortisol on their own again. That’s difficult to predict exactly how long that will take.

I found a couple links you might find interesting regarding steroids and how they affect the body.

Are you beginning a taper to get off prednisone?
https://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692
https://www.mayoclinic.org/prednisone-withdrawal/expert-answers/faq-20057923

REPLY
@loribmt

Hi Alan, yes prednisone does suppress the immune system, even at a low dose. It takes a while after a slow taper to stop prednisone without any side effects of withdrawal. Once you’re completely off, it can take several weeks for your adrenal glands to start producing cortisol on their own again. That’s difficult to predict exactly how long that will take.

I found a couple links you might find interesting regarding steroids and how they affect the body.

Are you beginning a taper to get off prednisone?
https://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692
https://www.mayoclinic.org/prednisone-withdrawal/expert-answers/faq-20057923

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Thank you for your response. I finished my low dose taper 2 years ago following the Mayo protocol. I do get injections in my shoulders twice a year and I am not sure how these impact the immune system.

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@alanbruce

Thank you for your response. I finished my low dose taper 2 years ago following the Mayo protocol. I do get injections in my shoulders twice a year and I am not sure how these impact the immune system.

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Hi Alan, cortisone is a wonder drug isn’t it? I’ve had my share too and what a difference it’s made in my life. Unfortunately all that wonderment can come with a price of lowering our immunity, bone density issues, etc..

Even though the shot is localized to your shoulder, it can still impact the entire body. It lowers the inflammatory response your immune system launches to fight injury or infections and reduces pain and swelling. In doing so it can also impact your immunity function. This then lowers your ability to fight infections.

It must be such a relief to have your PMR under control. But if you’re receiving cortisone injections twice a year for your shoulder the immune system can still be compromised. It’s not as though you have no immune system. It’s just going to react slower and maybe not as aggressively as it needs to if exposed to something that sounds the alarm to launch an attack.

So, just remain vigilant to potential avenues of infection like crowds of people and close contact indoors. Obviously Covid is the main concern right now but being immuno compromised, you should be cautious with any potential illness. Follow the Covid guidelines and really, if you’re at all unsure, toss a mask on! They are your first line defense against airborne illnesses.

Have you had the Covid vaccine? How did you weather that?

REPLY
@loribmt

Hi Alan, cortisone is a wonder drug isn’t it? I’ve had my share too and what a difference it’s made in my life. Unfortunately all that wonderment can come with a price of lowering our immunity, bone density issues, etc..

Even though the shot is localized to your shoulder, it can still impact the entire body. It lowers the inflammatory response your immune system launches to fight injury or infections and reduces pain and swelling. In doing so it can also impact your immunity function. This then lowers your ability to fight infections.

It must be such a relief to have your PMR under control. But if you’re receiving cortisone injections twice a year for your shoulder the immune system can still be compromised. It’s not as though you have no immune system. It’s just going to react slower and maybe not as aggressively as it needs to if exposed to something that sounds the alarm to launch an attack.

So, just remain vigilant to potential avenues of infection like crowds of people and close contact indoors. Obviously Covid is the main concern right now but being immuno compromised, you should be cautious with any potential illness. Follow the Covid guidelines and really, if you’re at all unsure, toss a mask on! They are your first line defense against airborne illnesses.

Have you had the Covid vaccine? How did you weather that?

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I had 2 vaccine shots in February and no issues.
Lots of covid among family members who live out of town.
Always where mask inside and never eat inside.
I appreciate your reply

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Unfortunately I have the giant cell temporal arterist. My prednisone was 60 mg a day. Slowly lowering that. I’ve had many different side effects that are listed on this site. Hair loss. Inability to walk. Etc. if anyone wants to talk please call me. I’m starting to see the light. Thank God And a great doctor

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@lisabrookside387

Unfortunately I have the giant cell temporal arterist. My prednisone was 60 mg a day. Slowly lowering that. I’ve had many different side effects that are listed on this site. Hair loss. Inability to walk. Etc. if anyone wants to talk please call me. I’m starting to see the light. Thank God And a great doctor

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I am alarmed at my ongoing hair loss –it's everywhere but on my head! There's barely any left at my temples and. top of my head. Will it grow back when I taper off the prednisone?

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@mymayoid

I am alarmed at my ongoing hair loss –it's everywhere but on my head! There's barely any left at my temples and. top of my head. Will it grow back when I taper off the prednisone?

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Hello @mymayoid, Welcome to Connect, an online community where patients and caregivers share their experiences, find support and exchange information with others. Side effects can definitely be alarming and cause anxiety. I never experienced hair loss while I was on prednisone for 2 occurrences of PMR. I did find an article that may provide more information on the question.

How to reverse hair loss from medication – Medical News Today: How to reverse hair loss from medication – Medical News Today

May I ask how long you have been on prednisone?

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@mymayoid

I am alarmed at my ongoing hair loss –it's everywhere but on my head! There's barely any left at my temples and. top of my head. Will it grow back when I taper off the prednisone?

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I certainly hope so! And I’m very optimistic. In the meantime I bought a very outside my comfort zone wig and I love it!

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I just heard from my Rheumatologist that the medical group he's with has decided to give COVID booster shots to those taking at least 20 mg. of prednisone daily.

REPLY
@johnbishop

Hello @mymayoid, Welcome to Connect, an online community where patients and caregivers share their experiences, find support and exchange information with others. Side effects can definitely be alarming and cause anxiety. I never experienced hair loss while I was on prednisone for 2 occurrences of PMR. I did find an article that may provide more information on the question.

How to reverse hair loss from medication – Medical News Today: How to reverse hair loss from medication – Medical News Today

May I ask how long you have been on prednisone?

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I started on
early February. I'm still taking out 15 mg daily, sometimes more.

REPLY
@lisabrookside387

I certainly hope so! And I’m very optimistic. In the meantime I bought a very outside my comfort zone wig and I love it!

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My I ask how long ago your hair loss started and if it has started to grow back at all? I am not likely to wear a wig just yet while I am staying home most always.

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