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Prednisone Treatment for Cough

By Joshua Bailey ; Updated July 27, 2017

Prednisone is a corticosteroid used many times as an immunosuppressant and can be used to treat a non-productive cough over the short term. If prednisone is used for a longer period of time, the steroid comes with a long list of side effects that might end up giving you more problems than just a nagging cough.

How to Take It

Prednisone comes in a variety of different mediums. You can get prednisone injections, which are very quick and effective, but not very convenient as many trips to the doctor are recommended for proper injections. There is oral prednisone in the form of pills, which are easy to administer but do not work as fast as injectable prednisone. Lastly, there is inhalable prednisone that is probably the best combination of convenience and quickness.

How it Works

Prednisone acts quickly to help people dealing with severe asthma and coughing attacks. It does this by subduing the swelling that asthma causes to the lungs and airways. In emergencies, both oral prednisone and inhalable prednisone work very well at opening the airways enough to allow oxygen to the lungs. Severe coughing attacks also occur when the airways tighten, so the use of prednisone during a coughing attack is just as effective.


Usually, your physician will offer you prednisone as a last resort as it does have some serious side effects if used long-term. The usual dosage is around 40 to 80 milligrams, taken daily for about one week. Normally, taking prednisone for only a week will not result in any severe side effects, but that does not mean you do not need to give up other treatments. Drink lots of tea with honey to help lubricate the airways, and include a lot of garlic in your diet as it is a natural cough suppressant.


Generally, prednisone will be given in one of two ways. The first way is called a steroid burst as it involves taking a lot of prednisone at once for a few days. This burst of prednisone makes for a faster-acting result. The other way prednisone is administered is by taking smaller doses over a longer period of time. So you could be on prednisone for a few days or a few weeks.

Side Effects

Over the short term, you can expect to see side effects like weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar level and fluid retention. These are very common side effects and if you experience any these do not be alarmed, but consult your physician on what to do next. Longer-term use can cause side effects such as diabetes, eye cataracts, muscle atrophy, osteoporosis and growth suppression, and because of these side effects, long-term use is often a last resort.

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