Pharmacology Question #54

Question

The nurse is assessing a patient with frequent exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who has been taking prednisone for 6 months. Which of the following indicate an adverse effect of taking prednisone?

Answers

  1. Weight gain
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because the most commonly reported side effect of prednisone is increased weight. Weight gain occurs due to several reasons including increased appetite, fat-redistribution, and retention of fluid.

  2. Photosensitivity
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because prednisone does not cause sun sensitivity. Flushing of the cheeks may occur with steroid use but is not related to sun exposure.

  3. Hair loss
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because excessive hair growth, not hair loss is most associated with prednisone therapy. Hirsutism is the term for excessive hair growth and is a common side effect of prednisone.

  4. Low blood pressure
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because elevated, not decreased blood pressure is most associated with prednisone therapy. This is due to the fluid retention that occurs during prednisone therapy.

Overview

Prednisone has a common side effect of weight gain, especially when taken long-term.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Prednisone is a glucocorticoid medication used to decrease inflammation. The most commonly reported side effect of prednisone is increased weight. Weight gain occurs due to several reasons including increased appetite, fat-redistribution, and retention of fluid. Weight gain is most often noticed in the face (often called moon-faced), abdomen, and neck (often called a buffalo hump). The amount of weight gain depends on the duration of prednisone therapy and the dosage. After discontinuation of prednisone, the body usually sheds the weight.

Test Taking Tip

Many steroidal medications have a suffix ending of “-one” or “-sone”.

Video Rationale