Learn about prednisone, a steroid medicine that can be used to treat certain kidney diseases such as glomerular diseases as well as acute interstitial nephritis. Glomerular diseases include but are not limited to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), minimal change disease (MCD) and IgA nephropathy. Prednisone is also used to prevent a person's body from rejecting a new kidney after a kidney transplant.
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
February 12, 2024

What is prednisone?

Prednisone is a prescription steroid medicine used to lower inflammation in your body and calm your immune system. Inflammation is the result of your body's reaction to something and can be seen in symptoms like rashes, joint pain, and swelling. Your immune system is your body's system to protect against infection.  

Prednisone can be taken by adults and children in many different ways, including by mouth, injection or inhaler. It is usually taken as a pill for kidney diseases treated with steroids or after a kidney transplant.  

Prednisone belongs to a class of medicines called corticosteroids. 

How does prednisone slow down the damage to my kidneys? 

Prednisone lowers inflammation), which can help prevent or slow kidney damage in certain types of kidney disease and help your body accept a new kidney after a transplant. 

Prednisone can help prevent or slow kidney damage caused by some types of kidney diseases called glomerular diseases. Glomerular diseases include (but are not limited to): 

Prednisone can also lower inflammation from other conditions, such as connective tissue diseases or allergic reactions, including when they may hurt the kidneys.  

These diseases may: 

  • Damage the tiny filters in your kidneys (glomeruli) that clean your blood  
  • Prevent the glomeruli from filtering out acids and other waste products from your blood, so the waste builds up in your bloodstream 
  • Allow protein to leak into your urine (pee) so you have less protein in your blood to remove extra fluid from your body. This can cause swelling in your face, hands, feet, upper belly area and ankles.  
  • Acute interstitial nephritisis a disease that causes inflammation (swelling) around part of your kidney's filters called tubules. Prednisone may improve outcomes and accelerate renal recovery. 

Prednisone helps calm the reaction of your immune system to keep it from rejecting a new kidney after a transplant. Doctors may prescribe it with several other medicines to lower the chance of rejection.

What are some common side effects of prednisone? 

Common side effects of prednisone include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Changes in mood 
  • Slower healing of cuts and bruises 
  • Acne 
  • Feeling tired (fatigue) 
  • Feeling dizzy 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Weight gain 
  • Swelling in the face, arms, hands, lower legs or feet 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Increased feelings of anxiety  
  • Inability to sleep 
  • At high doses, it can suppress the immune system, making you have a higher risk for infections   

The more prednisone you take and the longer you take it, the more likely you will have side effects. It also raises blood sugar, so doctors check blood sugar levels of people with diabetes while they are on this medicine.

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about medication and medication management questions you have.