Q. I am in very good health except for recurrent sinus infections. Recently, my internist put me on a 12-day tapered course of prednisone.
Within days I thought I was going crazy. I became extremely agitated and irritable and the least little thing set me off. I didn’t sleep for three days, even with sleeping pills. I couldn’t concentrate. My blood pressure soared and I became very fearful.
My doctor never warned me about any of this. Are these normal side effects of prednisone and what will I do if I have to take this drug again?
A. Prednisone and other corticosteroids (Medrol and Deltasone Dosepaks) relieve symptoms from a variety of conditions. Arthritis, asthma and severe skin reactions to poison ivy or sunburn are just some of the disorders these drugs treat.
Many people experience severe psychological reactions to high doses of such drugs. Steroid psychosis can cause anxiety, agitation, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes and even serious depression. Some may experience memory problems or hallucinations.
Let your doctor know you are susceptible to this kind of reaction. If you ever have to take more than 40 mg of prednisone at a time, you may need medication to counteract the psychiatric side effects.
If sinusitis is caused by an infection, an antibiotic may be appropriate. Researchers are discovering that an old-fashioned, inexpensive drug such as amoxicillin may be a good choice. Here is an article for more details. If you really want to learn more about sinusitis, our one-hour radio interview with Harold C. Pillsbury, MD, FACS and Ronald Gerbe, MD, may be of great interest.
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