Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid prescribed to treat various diseases and inflammatory conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, osteoporosis, sclerosis, and cancer. People with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis may use prednisone long-term, usually at a low dose of 5mg daily.
Prescription prednisone replaces naturally occurring steroids in the body. When the body lacks an adequate balance of these steroids, inflammation and other symptoms are likely. This is the reason people feel immediate relief when taking it. Unfortunately, this may tempt some people into using more than they need and develop a prednisone addiction. Using too much prednisone (prednisone toxicity) can put the person at risk since it floods the body with an unnatural level of steroids.
Learn about how long prednisone stays in your system depends on the dosage, how it’s administered, and the treatment length.
Since prednisone is a steroid, taking too much could be life-threatening. If you or a person you know has a prednisone addiction, Zinnia Health can help. Call our friendly experts 24 hours a day at (855) 430-9439.
How Long Does Prednisone Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, or Hair?
Prednisone is a prodrug, which means its chemical makeup changes when ingested. Once you consume prednisone, liver enzymes convert it into prednisolone. Prednisolone is the active metabolite of prednisone.
The body metabolizes prednisone and excretes it in several ways. But even days after use, it’s still detectable in the urine, blood, saliva, and hair.
- Urinalysis: According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, prednisone was detected in urine 24 hours after use. After topical use (on the skin), prednisone was detectable for up to 18 hours.
- Blood Detection: Typically, prednisone can be detected in the blood for a few days after discontinuing use. However, factors such as weight and dosage can increase this time.
- Saliva Detection: The amount of time prednisone remains in the saliva isn’t clear. Saliva tests aren’t usually used to detect prescription prednisone but may be used to detect naturally-occurring steroid levels.
- Hair Detection: The length of time prednisone is detectable in hair is 1 to 3 months, but this time can extend by several weeks or months depending on factors such as the dosage of prednisone and the person’s weight.
What Can Affect How Long Prednisone Stays in Your Body?
There is no simple answer to the question, “How long does it take for prednisone to get out of my system?” The time can vary depending on several factors contributing to the length of time prednisone remains in your body.
These factors include:
- Food intake
- Basal metabolic rate
- Other prescription drugs you might be taking (especially hormone replacements)
The elimination time for prednisone increases with age. In children, prednisone remains in the body for up to 14 hours. In adults, it remains up to 22 hours.
How Is Prednisone Detected on Drug Tests?
Prednisone is detected using a blood serum, urine, or hair strand test. In some circumstances, a saliva test may be useful. These tests detect the amount and type of steroid used.
How is Prednisone Detected in Hair?
Hair strand tests, like blood, saliva, and urine tests, detect the amount of prednisone metabolite in the body. The laboratory extracts blood from the hair’s root to determine the amount of prednisone present. Since the blood is collected in the bulb and doesn’t eliminate easily, prednisone retention is longer.
What is Prednisone’s Half-Life?
A half-life is the amount of time it takes medication to decrease in the body by half. For prednisone it has a half-life of 2 to 3 hours. That means 50% of prednisone is metabolized within that time.
The half-life is multiplied by 7 to determine how long prednisone remains in the body.
Based on a half-life of 2 to 3 hours, it would take approximately 14 to 21 hours for the elimination half-life of prednisone in an adult.
In children, prednisone has a short half-life of 1 to 2 hours, resulting in a 7 to 14-hour window for prednisone to leave the system.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Prednisone to Wear Off?
Once prednisone begins to wear off, you’ll notice a reduction in side effects. This process may take up to 2 weeks after your last dose. Prednisone side effects are generally mild with short-term use when taken as prescribed. Rapid cessation may cause withdrawal symptoms.
Side effects of prednisone may include but are not limited to the following:
- Weight gain
- Moon face (appearance of swelling due to fat redistribution).
- Change in activity
- Changes in behavior
- Mood swings
If you have any of the following symptoms, contact a healthcare professional immediately:
- Visual disturbances
- Muscle twitching
- Changes in blood pressure
- Changes in blood sugar
- Excessive weight gain
- An increase in general side-effects
Even if prednisone side effects are troubling — and if they are, please speak to a healthcare professional — do not abruptly stop taking them. The sudden drop in prednisone levels can lead to rapid changes in the adrenal glands, resulting in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as a drop in blood pressure. If you’re taking other corticosteroids, this risk increases.
Help Getting Clean from Prednisone
Due to the addictive nature of corticosteroids, some people find it difficult to stop using them. Using prednisone in a risky way — such as a non-prescribed high dose of prednisone — may cause damage to the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands naturally create steroids such as adrenaline, which are vital in regulating blood pressure and heart rate.
The risk of harmful effects from taking prednisone increases when used beyond your healthcare professional or pharmacist’s recommendation.
If you’ve tried to stop using prednisone but find yourself unable to — or if you’ve quit but started using again, Zinnia Health can help. We offer on and off-site treatment options to help you detox and stay clean. Our caring support staff are skilled and eager to help. Visit Zinnia Health online to find a facility near you — or give us a call at (855) 430-9439.
Our accredited facilities are open 24/7 and work with various insurance plans. If you don’t have the means to pay, contact us, and we can direct you to grants or other services that may be able to help with the cost. We’re standing by to help you get your life back.