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Prednisone and The Thyroid

Prednisone and The Thyroid
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I have a guest post from Britney from Warrior Butterflies, Butterfly Nation Project and Butterfly Britney today, all about prednisone and your thyroid health.

I’ve heard from various thyroid patients before who have asked about the link between the two and the impact that taking this medication can have on your thyroid and adrenal health.

Written by Britney Robinson


There is a good chance that at some point you may be put on Prednisone for something.

If you also have asthma or lung issues the chance goes up even further. Drugs.com defines Prednisone as a corticosteroid. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. It also suppresses the immune system. Prednisone is used as an anti-inflammatory or an immunosuppressant medication. Prednisone treats many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

A lot of people who have thyroid conditions also have autoimmune issues that go along with the thyroid such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease. As a lot of you know, once you get one autoimmune disease, it’s easier to acquire other autoimmune diseases, like asthma, arthritis, etc. and a key ingredient in a lot of autoimmune diseases is inflammation.

Prednisone is a great drug for helping with the inflammatory conditions, for someone with asthma especially, it can be a life saver,  in helping restore clear breathing back to the lungs, or reducing inflammation. It can also help heal inflammation which can help many injuries heal faster.  Since it does suppresses your immune system to some degree, you need to keep  that also in mind while on the medication. You will need to avoid people with contagious diseases even more than normal to avoid becoming ill.  This is usually mentioned by most doctors when they prescribe prednisone. What they do not always mention, or even know to mention is how it will affect your thyroid levels and other health.

First you have the problem of the prednisone itself. The side effects of prednisone are long and lengthy. A lot of the side effects mimic hyperthyroidism, such as  increased appetite, sleep issues, irritability, anxiety, blood pressure rising and more. This can make you feel like all the sudden your body is going into over drive. The worst part is that sometimes these side effects can last days or even weeks in your system after you stop taking prednisone.

Along with the side effects, prednisone being a corticosteroid can make conversion of T4 to T3 (the form of thyroid hormone that your body more readily can use) much more difficult and even suppress it when you are on high enough amounts. This will actually send your thyroid levels DOWN towards more hypo. A good endocrinologist will know that testing your thyroid levels too soon after or during a round of prednisone will drastically affect your numbers. This will ALSO make you feel off. What you can end up with, is the prednisone making you feel like your system is in over drive, but actually driving down your available thyroid hormone that your body can use. My own endocrinologist will generally test me about 4 weeks after I finish a round of prednisone to see where my lab tests actually end up, as they tend to bounce back after I’ve been off the medicine for a few weeks.

Besides the thyroid levels, prednisone can also change your adrenal tests as one of the main components of your adrenals is cortisol, related to prednisone. So if you have labs to test adrenals, you may also want to wait a few weeks after you finish prednisone to get a more accurate result and separate out what your body is doing versus what the prednisone has affected.

The Mayo Clinic talks about how prednisone works with your adrenals as well. One of the things prednisone is also used to treat is Addison’s disease, which happens when your adrenal glands do not produce enough steroids on their own. The body is a wonderful thing and has such a delicate balancing act to keep itself running well.

Yes, there are definite risks and disadvantages of taking prednisone when you have thyroid disease, but you should also weigh the benefits of this therapy if your doctor has prescribed it. Myself, I have asthma as well as thyroid disease, and there have been many times that this has been the only thing that has gotten me back to breathing easier again. Each time my doctor suggestions prednisone in my life, I have to see if anything else will help, if not, it is a wonderful thing, even with the side effects to be able to breathe and to have less inflammation.

Another thing to keep in mind on prednisone, is that if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, it can cause your blood sugar to rise while on steroids of any kind. So if you go to your doctor and your blood sugars have rising and nothing has changed but prednisone being added, that is most likely your answer.

Britney Robinson


Diagnosed with Thyroid Disease and Graves’, Britney writes for Warrior Butterflies, Butterfly Nation Project and Butterfly Britney.

You can also follow her on Twitter.

If you would like to submit a guest post, whether you’re a thyroid patient, doctor or anyone else, please get in contact

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Do you take prednisone? Feel free to join the discussion in the comments section below.

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".

20 Comments

  • Susan Naden
    July 9, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    I have hypothyroidism and recently had to take prednisone for a sinus infection. I got labs the next week and my TSH is high and my T3 is bottomed out. Obviously, prednisone does lower your available T3. My labs were perfect beforehand.

    Reply
  • Lou
    May 5, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    I was first diagnosed with Graves then went to a endocrinlogistics and was also diagnosed with Hasimotos. I have the Antibodies for both. I have went in and out of both until I finally just staying in hasimotos. I have 9 herniated disc with spinal cord envolvement and spinal stenosis. I have received multiple steroid injections in spine, a thoracic epidural and spot trigger point injections. My levels have been going up over time. My questions can the use of contacts oral and injectable steroids cause you complications if you have Hasimotos and take them? I am currently super weak, with shortness of breath or not feeling like i am getting enough air, brain fog, and pain. My o2 says are WNL. Any insight would be great. Thank you

    Reply
  • Georgeana
    March 15, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    I have Hashimotos and hypothyroidism. I have literally slept for 2 years, gained 60 lbs, my joints hurt and I am weak. I take synthroid but it does nothing. I begged my doctor to give me prednisone because I read several medical articles which said it could help. The studies said 15mg for 10 days, then taper down to 5 and then 0.
    She gave me the prescription yesterday. Now I am fearful. I just want my life back. Going from 136 to 200 lbs cannot be good on my heart. I am now on BP Meds and have controlled chronic Afib. Anyone else have any experience like this? Any advice?

    Reply
  • Monica
    March 5, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. I have Hashimoto’s, asthma, and a lung condition called Cryptogenic Organizing Pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs with no known cause). The doctors tried short term prednisone with some relief in symptoms (difficulty breathing, low oxygen levels, winded upon exertion), but determined long term prednisone was needed. There was no other treatment that worked. Thus far, it hadn’t really affected my thyroid until recently. My TSH went to 17. It doesn’t look like I’ll be off the medicine any time soon, so I’m not sure, like you said, if the results are skewed or if I’m just going further into hypo.

    Reply
  • Deb
    June 24, 2021 at 5:36 am

    It seems that the only time my hashimatos went into complete remission was when I took a high dose of Prednisone for a few months, due to a terrible case of poison oak. Never again, since, I was taking Prednisone due to terrible poison oak has my hashimatos gone into complete remission again
    50 pounds heavier, anxiety, depression, moodiness…… Was that coincidence or did predizone put my hashimatos into complete remission?

    Reply
  • DT
    April 27, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I was given 4mg twice so 8mg per day medrol for covid for a week and tapering it off now. I had Graves and in remission. What are the problems I should look for?
    I have had extremely high apetite, palpitations and such signs of hyperthyroid and was worried that Covid kicked in my Graves again.
    Now I see, I cant even test for it to be sure as the test would be affected by medrol.

    Reply
  • Ruth Anderson
    February 10, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Can someone tell me if life time problems from use periodic of cortisone and prednisone….200 mg cortisone over about a year titrated down over a year age ten Cushing syndrome at gain of 75 lbs starting wt .was less than 50 lbs……three more episodes of use age 14…..28. And 34 ….treated with 60 mg being lowered over a year to a year and a half this was due to an autoimmune disease….periaritheris nodes……I am now 77 have not had any remission after was told it was caused by untreated strep B…..but have residual problems could these be caused by all the previous prednisone and cortisone I have been given….

    Reply
  • saeid
    September 15, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    I would be appreciated if anybody can tell me about my brother (51 years old)experience.
    Two month ago he complained of sleeping problem, weakness and muscular pain, throat pain and one-side ear pain. After visiting doctor and blood test, results was T3 and T4 extremely reduction, increased extremely TSH, increased liver SGOT and SGPT. His doctor was suspicious to hashimoto and prescribed prednisolone, 35mg. After a week next blood test showed everything has backed to nearly normal amounts so his doctor told him to reduce prednisolone and cut it in a month.
    After cutting prednisolone his blood test of T3,T4 and SGOT-SGPT was nearly in normal range but all his pains have backed again so much that he felt he will die. After consulting the doctor he started prednisolone again. CT scan of his thyroid was normal. Now even his doctor do not know what is the problem, does he have to continue prednisolone or start levothyroxine. Does any body had same experience?

    Reply
  • Pam Beckwith
    August 27, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    I go to a neurologist and have steroid injections every four months for my neck and back. I also have hypothyroidism. Should I be worried about the effects on my thyroid?

    Reply
  • Em
    July 8, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Hi, I just finished a course of 10mg Prednisone daily for a (failed) frozen embryo transfer (IVF). And I noticed that after weaning off of the 10mg, going down gradually day by day for 11-12 days, I feel a pulling sensation in my thyroid and I had a headache and very fatigued while weaning off. I sensed that my thyroid was stressed from this. I was given 0.025 Synthroid by my Reproductive Endocrinologist as a placebo for my thyroid – I have 9 benign cysts and have a history of hypothyroidism due to severe gluten intollerance, a previous goiter/inflammation, from my body attacking my thyroid due to confusing the thyroid for gluten proteins. I just took half of a Synthroid pill, which is a very low amount. And I’m hoping that this might support my thyroid while my body rebalances in the next month. I have about 52 rating for thyroid antibodies. The cutoff is 35, so I am just over that. But I don’t think it’s enough to self-medicate. So I will only be taking this for a while until I feel ‘normal’ again…any thoughts?

    Reply
  • MJ Car
    January 29, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    Do you know if using Halobetasol Propionate Ointment 0.05% almost every day for years could affect the thyroid test?

    I use this for stress related psoriasis on my fingers. Nothing else works.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Fran
      February 1, 2021 at 8:35 pm

      I also have hypothyroidism, also a goiter on my thyroid. I just had some blood work done today, Dr. thinks I have Hashimotos disease. I was prescribed prednisone for very bad case of sinusitis, been scared to take,, but everyone’s response here helps.f

      Reply
  • Patricia Mintz
    December 18, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I have been taking Prednisone for 9 months and today I notice I have a goiter on my neck. And I have been having problems swallowing even though my doctor stretched my esophagus about 10 months ago due to severe acid reflux. Im really concerned. I have appt with doc tomorrow.

    Reply
  • Debbie smith
    July 2, 2019 at 6:01 am

    It is safe to take prednisone for 5 days while on nature throid

    Reply
    • Rachel Hill
      July 2, 2019 at 7:39 am

      What does your doctor say? Make sure to take them well apart too so they don’t affect absorption of one another.

      Reply
  • Ida Reed
    March 26, 2019 at 12:27 am

    I have been taking prednisone for some years now, it has been since 1996 and it has began to affect my muscles in my legs as well as my eyesight. Is there anything I can take other than this medicine. I had my purturitary gland taken out due to a tumor but it was not cancerous.

    Reply
  • Shelley Thorburn
    March 23, 2019 at 4:23 am

    I am on Methertrexate for Arthritis and wonder if this is affected my thyroid levels.

    I was Hyper and then it went the other way, so I’m on 100mg of Levo.

    I have just had a blood test and I asked my doctor to do a full one for my thyroid, but I don’t think it’s been done as expected!
    This is the print out I got.

    Serum TSH level is satisfactory 0.75
    Serum free T4 level is satisfactory. 13.3

    Apparently both within the guidelines.
    Does this mean that the T3 hasn’t been done which is the important one?

    Help🤔😟

    Reply
    • Rachel Hill
      March 23, 2019 at 8:38 am

      Yes Free T3 hasn’t been done there.

      Reply
  • Grace
    November 10, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Can anyone tell me if a monthly injection of a immunosuppressive therapy drug for psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis could have any affect on my thyroid test, I’m thyroidless after pap cancer I’m on Armour Thyroid (2 grains) prior I was on Synthyroid and Cytomel and my TSH,FT3,FT4 and T4 have always been at the very bottom on normal and my TSH suppressed. I’ve been reduced multiple times and still my numbers never change.

    Any ideas why and could my immunosuppressive drugs cause this …Endo keeps crying I’m hyper but I have no symptoms quite the opposite I gain weight like it’s a part-time job and develope psoriatic arthritis after thyroidectomy. Thanks

    Reply
  • Pat Steer
    October 11, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I am very interested in links between to two mainly due to recent things that have come to light in my personal health.

    In my 20’s (1980’s) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I was extremely ill and the use of prednisone was a complete Godsend giving me relief and easing my symptoms. I began to put on weight (it had dropped to 6 stone 5 lb at its lowest) I had energy and after 6 months was able to return to work.

    My Crohn’s was eventually cleared by a resection butI was left on the steroid and had it repeat prescribed for many years until I asked to stop it and withdrew.

    Some years later I developed hyperthyroidism and took levithyroxine until mid 2017 when after successfully loosing weight with a sensible diet plan over a year everything appeared to return to normal and my doctor was managing my complete withdrawl from the drugs.

    The in December 2017 my thyroid became overactive and I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism / Graves. Struggling with the symptoms I am now about to undergo tests for Addisons.

    I can not help but think that the prolonged use of these steroid when young may be the cause of both my present problems and it does seem as though there is a timeline of impact so I wondered if any others can see similar histories

    Reply

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