Welcome back! I hope you’re enjoying this mini-series about the things that go on behind the scenes of inflammatory bowel disease.
I’m sure by now, you’re familiar with the theme of 2019’s World IBD Day:
“Making the Invisible Visible.”
There’s so much more that goes on than some pissed off bowels. And truthfully, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease are much more than just bathroom diseases.
For example, take a look at the three other invisible symptoms I shared on the blog:
- Introduction to World IBD Day
- Invisible Aspect #1: Joint Pain
- Invisible Aspect #2: Dropped Out of College
- Invisible Aspect #3: Hair Loss
Without further ado, let’s get into part FOUR.
Dealing with Prednisone
If you’re familiar with Prednisone, you probably know that some of its side effects are not invisible. In fact, they may be far too obvious. For example, gave me noticeably greasy hair and acne.
But the biggest side effect from Prednisone that haunted my reflection in the mirror was the weight gain. Although my friends and family could, of course, notice the extra twenty-ish pounds I packed on, strangers wouldn’t be able to notice.
I’m an ectomorph, meaning that I have a fast metabolism, and so I’m naturally thin. But if a stranger were to look at me, they’d likely think that my Prednisone weight was my normal, natural, healthy weight.
To me, this weight gain was FAR from invisible.
I saw it every time I looked in the mirror.
I felt it every time I had to change outfits because my pants would no longer button.
I felt it every time I ate a large meal (which were MANY because hunger cravings are another side effect!)
I’d consider myself to be a confident person, but when I was on Prednisone, all of that confidence was gone.
I mean, c’mon, I looked like a real life bobble head! 😂 🤣
On another level, Prednisone is also known to cause mood swings. So my heightened senses made me feel even worse about my weight gain.
Why does Prednisone cause weight gain?
So, why does Prednisone cause weight gain in the first place?
It alters the body’s metabolism, as well as its balance of electrolytes and water. This…
Creates water retention
Water retention leads to that weight gain. It’s also bad news bears because water retains sodium, which just contributes to the Prednisone-cause belly pouch and chipmunk cheeks!
Alters where your body stores fat
Yup, it redistributes your fat. For me—and a lot of others—a good majority of it goes into your face and neck. It’s so common that this side effect is called “moonface.”
Increases your appetite
So in addition to everything else, you’re constantly starving and eating large meals. When I wasn’t doing this, I was snacking.
How to lose or maintain your weight on Prednisone
Every body is different, and if you can’t lose weight on Prednisone, perhaps your medical team can help you find ways to at least stop adding Prednisone pounds.
Here are some ways to do this. Just remember, talk with your doctor or dietitian first!
- Limit that sodium! No late-night binge-eating chips or pretzels!
- As contrary as it may seem, don’t stop drinking water! It’s important you drink plenty.
- Figure out an exercise regimen! When I’m well and not on Prednisone, I prefer strength training over cardio. But while I was on Prednisone, I changed that.
Also! I have a previous blog post about solutions to the other side effects I faced like acne, greasy hair, muscle tenderness, and smart ways to deal with hunger cravings!
An Invisible Disease
The point is: almost every medication will have side effects. It’s up to you to get creative, do some research, and think outside the box to come up with solutions that will help with your unique situation.
IBD is much more than an intestinal disease. It’s an invisible illness with sneaky, stealthy side effects and symptoms that strangers wouldn’t notice unless we decide to share them.
But I choose to share my story because AWARENESS → FUNDING → RESEARCH → CURES 💜💜💜