03 January 2006

Drugs and blogging just don't mix

As you may have read previously, I've been on prednisone this last week. It's quite a nasty drug, which is used to, in effect, shut down the immune system.

Why, you might reasonably ask, would I want to do this, especially when living in the famously disease-ridden tropics? Well, it wasn't my preference, but my doctor asked me to. He wants to see if everything that's happening with my lungs is due to sarcoidosis, or something else. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease, and shutting the immune system down greatly reduces inflammation.

The reason prednisone isn't used continuously is that its long-term side effects include osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, glaucoma, etc. In the short run, it's given me extreme fatigue and listlessness, wild mood swings, swelling, continuous hunger, and lots of hiccuping.

There may be an added twist. No one knows what causes sarcoidosis, but there is some evidence that it's due to a bacterial infection. If that's true, then using prednisone to treat it should allow the disease to spread, and possibly prolong the course of the disease. And it seems that's exactly what happens.

My choice, though, was to take the prednisone, or forgo treatment. And so I've been taking the prednisone. Last dose in four hours. I'm going to be very glad when this is done.

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