What Is Prednisone for Colitis and Crohn's Disease?

Prednisone is a corticosteroid drug that suppresses the immune system and works as a potent anti-inflammatory medication, according to Drugs.com. The drug has been used since the 1950s to help achieve remission during flares of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, notes the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

Prednisone is usually given by mouth to those with moderate to severe active disease, states the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. For those who do not respond, corticosteroids are also available in intravenous and rectal preparations.

Side effects of the drug are dose and duration dependent, according to Drugs.com. The most common side effects include insomnia and mood changes, increased appetite and weight gain, slow wound healing, and nausea and stomach upset. Increased acne, increased sweating, dizziness and headache are also common.

Patients should not stop taking prednisone suddenly, especially if it has been taken for an extended period of time, notes the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. The drug needs to be tapered before being withdrawn to give the body time to begin producing its own supply of cortisol once again.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are two broad categories of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, explains the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Both diseases are considered auto-immune conditions. While colitis is limited to the large intestine, Crohn's disease can affect the entire gastrointestinal system from the mouth to the anus.