What to Expect When Treating UC with Prednisone

Taking steroids for ulcerative colitis is very common.  Most of the other UC patients that I have met have been treating their ulcerative colitis with prednisone at some point in time.  It turns out that prednisone is one of the older drugs that exists for treatment of UC symptoms.

Like any medication for any disease, the big question most people have is what can be expected after you begin taking the medicine?  It’s a great question, and one that usually has a unique answer for everyone.  I think that if we gathered 100 UC people, we might get close to 100 different answers to the question on how did prednisone treatment go.  But this is nothing to be alarmed about.  Medications just have an interesting way of affecting people in different ways.

From my experiences, I can remember the first day I took prednisone for my colitis.  It was right after I had my colonoscopy and was diagnosed with the disease.  We went to the pharmacy and picked up the steroid pills, and I immediately popped two 10mg pills in my mouth.  The taste was definitely not very pleasant.  Prednisone is one of those pills that you want to swallow quickly and not leave in your mouth for long because it tastes nasty.  But anyways, I can remember how within about an hour, all of a sudden I had an incredible amount of energy, and I told my wife I thought I was cured from the disease.  It’s true, the prednisone gave me a huge burst of energy and my pains in my abdomen seemed to go away instantly.  This was strange, especially since I had been dealing with 10 plus bloody bowel movements per day for quite a while, but at the same time it seemed like a miracle was happening.

Well, after a few more hours, it turned out I was just on a quick and temporary “steroid high”.  So, no, my disease did not miraculous go away that time.  The steroids did give me more energy to some degree.  They also raised my appetite a little bit, which was good as I was loosing quite a bit of weight with the active colitis I was dealing with.  As for an interesting side effect from the prednisone, I was one of those cases who had a hard time sleeping at night while on a high dose of the medication. And by high dose I mean 30mg and more.   At my peak, I was up to 60mg/day of prednisone.  I think the difficulty sleeping was the worst thing that happend to me from the medication.  Other people I have talked with have reported a side effect known as “moon face” where your face gets all puffed out from the steroids.   I know this sounds horrible, and I am sure it is hard to cope with along with UC, but everyone has also reported that the moon face goes away once you end the use of the steroids, which is at least good to know if that happens to you.

Of course, I think the biggest question everyone has is when do you see results with the steroids?  That’s a tough question to answer.  Some people who have taken steroids for UC with very mild symptoms have said they noticed their inflammation going down within one to two weeks.  Other people have had different cases where they started with more severe colitis, and the drugs worked, but over a longer period of time.  It really just depends on each persons case.  The good news is, steroids do definitely work for some people, and that is why doctors prescribe them.

Be sure to ask your doctor about potential side effects from the medications like insomnia, and weight gain, moon face, and anything else.  This way, if you do experience some side effects, you won’t be as alarmed.

One side note, I definitely remember several doctors saying that the tiny red dots that once appeared all over my back, literally thousands of them was called steroid acne, Jen calls it backne.  And they attributed it all to the steroids I was taking at the time.  And yes, it all went away once I discontinued the drugs.

Tags: acne, colitis, insomnia, moon face, prednisone, steroids, UC

15 Responses to “What to Expect When Treating UC with Prednisone”

  1. danJune 27, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    I was on 60mg of prednisone for a while too. Definitely remember the energy, the insomnia, and the increased appetite. I didn’t get the moon face too bad, but my ankles and feet swelled up really big, to the point where I had to wear slippers in public because my shoes didn’t fit! Also my face would get flushed right after taking it and then gradually cool down.

  2. JenJune 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    Man I hate steroids with a passion!!! I have all the symptoms! My moonface is just horrible, my mini beard is hidious! my appetite luckily is decreasing by the amount im on (ive gone from 60 down to 25 now wohoo)also so is the insomnia! finally sleeping fully for the night. The highs are also starting to become less and less and the tempers are becoming more and more. I not only have bacne but my chest is covered is horrible spots too. I also look like im sic months pregnant and mt feet are swelled too…have i forgotten anything? oh yeah handfuls of my hair are coming out…but that could be from the imuran also! oh yeah and the sweats…i have been constantly sweating since ive been put back on them………….and whats funny is they didnt even work this time not one bit! so one good thing is no more steroids for me after i get off them! couldnt be frickin happier!

  3. bettyJuly 15, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    I was on 120 mg. solumedrol in the hospital for 3 days, then tapered to 60 mg prednisone for 4 days, 50 mg for 4 days, 40, etc. I am on the my 3rd day at the 30 mg. and I am SO sick of the depression that goes along with this drug. Not to mention I think it’s eaitng a hole in my stomach because I feel like puking all the time! My side effects are way different than most. I do have insomnia (thank goodness for ambien), and mood swings. but I have no energy, no zest for life, all my senses are dull. I have NO appetite and force myself to eat. I don’t have swelling or moon face. I have been on this drug before but this time, the side effects are worse. I know my hair will fall out too. All I can do is pray that as I keep tapering, my flare won’t come back. It makes me so sad to hear how many of us are suffering from this disgusting disease.

  4. Mary AnneNovember 23, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Pred makes me very irritable and snappish, I have difficulty focusing, and I can’t wait to taper even though I am still bleeding. It affects my sleep patterns (wake up very early) and gives me false energy. I think I am also depressed too because I lose interest in things I like and just want to watch TV.

    Let’s all heal and laugh about it some day!

  5. DavidBMarch 6, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Have just finished a course of prenisone. After the first week I began to feel very much healthier and my sex drive returned after being much lower than before I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. My symptoms seem to have subsided dramatically and I am hoping that the drug has brought things under control. I am very concerned however that my previous problems will return now that I have stopped taking the drug, but in the meantime my wife is much happier, nudge, nudge!

  6. Samantha HMarch 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    I have just returned from a visit at the hospital with a prescription for steroids. I am massively on the fence over this decision. I’m so sick of spending my life in the bathroom, or working out where the nearest one is but so scared to actually bite the bullet and get on with taking them.

    Are the side effects bearable? I have a trip coming up in a few days which requires a 3 hour drive to get there and I’m worried these steroids are going to make me go crazy. Oh and fat, which I don’t want. On the other hand I’ve been in a bad flare for a while now and a part of me is willing to give anything ago to get my old life back, even if it’s just a half version of my old life because the one where UC dominates all my decisions ain’t so fun!

    I guess the point of my post is just a little reassurance whether to just man up and take these pills, but also should I start straight away or wait until after my trip? Don’t want to be a crazy person on the motorway for three hours now do I?!

  7. EfimSeptember 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Hi
    I used to take 60 mg of predmisone as well but now thank g-d im tapering it a gram a week and i am at 8mg. Ive discovered that I have white stripes on my fingernails and was wondering if anyone else was experiencing this as a result of prednisone. Thanks

  8. AshleeDecember 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    I have been on 40mg a day for about 6 weeks now with a follow-up with my GI on a few days to decide what to do from there, and I have to say I couldn’t be happier on Prednisone. Before starting it I was crapping my pants in public (with Depends on, but STILL) at least once a day because I could never make it to a toilet, or I would just avoid going out in public altogether because of how much pain and embarassment I was in. This was doubly stressful because I’m in the Navy and can’t just not get up for work, haha. Anyway, my health and quality of life was in the dumps (see what I did there?) and as wary as I was about the side effects of this drug I was more afraid of where UC was taking me. 6 weeks later and I can say happily that I’m SO glad my GI prescribed it. I do have a puffy face and my appetite came back with a vengeance that I am now working off at the gym every other day, but did you just read that? I can go to the gym! I went from about 15 painful, bloody BMs a day to 2 or 3 :) Other side effects I’ve experienced are that the hair on my legs stopped growing, impatience/irritability a few hours after I pop a pill, some acne on my face, and night sweats but only when I eat too much too close to going to bed. Honestly, it might sound like a lot of “bad” but it has done me more good than anything…I am starting to feel like my old self I lost over a year ago since this flare began. So, don’t be afraid of the evil little pill, haha! Just be informed of what may happen, work with your GI to make sure you’re not getting an excess dose (which can lead to some side effects), and take it one day at a time. It took me about 2 weeks to see results that stayed. I wish everyone luck with whatever medicine they’re on, and here’s to healing and managing UC withOUT drugs if you can :)

  9. TeriMay 1, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    I am having flare after being in remission for about 3 years. My dr put me on 40mg of prednisone and after 7 days i have seen no change. how long does it generally take to see some sort of improvement? I have no swelling or moon face. I do have the insomnia and increased energy which i don’t mind. I do miss eating. My dr told me to stick back to a bland diet and i am losing weight too fast because of it.
    After reading this i am now concerned about depression/anxiety. i am on cymbalta to control anxiety and have xanax on hand for panic hands. So far so good. but i have two toddlers and honestly i don’t have time to be sick or going thru more issues.

    Any help will be great.

  10. TimJune 9, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    So how long after starting the prednisone treatment does it take to have normal bowel movements? No one ever said that. with the loose bowels, who give a rip about sex drive, i mean, ohh baby you da man, oops!

    • AdamJune 11, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Hey Tim,

      It totally depends on the person, the severity of the active colitis and the dosage. I don’t think any doc or patient who has experience with UC and prednisone could give you a hard answer and be able to stick to it regarding the “when” does the poop get normal question. it’s just one of the infinite possibility type of questions/answers that are common with treating UC. I wish you the best, and on a side note, if you are not seeing any improvement at all with prednisone, definitely talk to your doctor and let him/her know, its not the type of med you want to be taking in high (or lose doses in my opinion) for any longer than necessary. -Adam

  11. LisaSeptember 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Hi everyone,
    This is my 1st post on this site–so glad I found this site! I’m currently typing on my phone in the fetal position…where I’ve been for the better part of 2 months. I had been in remission for 3 years (was diagnosed with Crohn’s/colitis in ’09 and the first year was tricky and not-so-fun) I tried Asacol-nope! But when I found 6MP, it was like my miracle drug. After 3 years on it, I had the occasional drink, coffee, greasy food when I wanted and literally only 1 or 2 AWESOME poops a day. Funny to call poop awesome, but I would literally call a friend just to relay the size of something that just came out of me, with a “I feel like a million bucks!!” Anyway, my point is, very out of the blue when I started flaring in July. A sigmoid confirmed yes, whole left side was now active UC. Started Uceris and my 6MP was raised. This last month, I’ve only gotten worse. This last week, unbearable. Bloody, runny stools 15 times a day, and cramping that is so unbearable, I’m not sure if I may faint or throw up. Even drinking water causes cramping. In desperation, I started Prednisone yesterday, 30mg. I swear I’m worse! No improvement when in the past, it worked almost instantly. I went on here to see if that was normal, and seems it is. Adam and everyone that contributes, THANK YOU. Its very easy to seclude yourself with this disease when you’re flaring, or think no one understands. Everyone’s insight and encouragement (and humor!!) is such a help. Now if you’ll excuse me, the toilet calls…..

  12. KateSeptember 16, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in june this year, i was admitted to hospital after my colonoscopy where i started on 50mg prednisone, i have been slowly tapering since then i am now down to 2.5mg and cant wait to get off them. I have been moody, had insomnia, my energy levels dropped considerably, to the point where i had to take time of work. I am a nursing student and i had no drive to study or go to class what so ever, my appetite increased and my motivation to exercise decreased. I have put on 7 kilograms and have had ‘moon face’ since bout a week into it. In saying all this, this drug saved my life, i used to have up to 15 bowel motions of diarrhea a day, severe cramping and abdominal pain, i was anemic and depleted of about every nutrient there is, dehydrated, i had dermatitis and eczema. This has all gone away since being on predisone combined with my other medications, if you are getting down about weight gain or the other side effects, just think of what you would have the horrible symptoms of this disease or a few side effects that are only short term ?

  13. JasonDecember 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I was diagnosed with UC in July, but severe UC, I get lesions on the body and severe joint swelling plus the all favorite 15 plus BM’s a day. I have been hospitalized twice since I was diagnosed and my DR both times had me on predisone for two weeks and lialda as a daily drug indefinate. But three months it returned more severe than the first episode, I had half dollar lesions on my body and severe arthritis, after four days in the hospital they released me taking asacol three times a day (as a lifetime med) and 60 mg of predisone for two weeks then tapering down 10 mg a day until done. Well this week I tapered down to 10 and the diarrhea has returned. I hope in time that they find the right treatment, I just turned 41 and it has been debilitating… The Dr said my next treatment may be going with the bio treatments… If that doesn’t take the dreaded removal…

  14. JacobDecember 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Before any surgery please read about a Paleo lifestyle with U.C. I saw drastic improvement after only 4 days…on the downside after a month of feeling “back to normal” I re-added beer, corn and rice to my diet, and after about 3 months of re-introducing, my symptoms have come back this time with a vengeance. Unfortunately this time, my UC has not cleared up as fast, I’ve been following Paleo loosely (mostly due to holidays) for about 2 weeks, and strictly for the past 4 days, not the same drastic improvement I had last time, but I am holding out hope that my body will come around. I’ll try to keep everybody posted…

Leave a Reply