I think most people with autoimmune diseases have a love/hate relationship with corticosteroids like prednisone. The Singing Patient's "The Prednisone Song" sums it up pretty well (thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy for posting this video on his Faceboook page!).
Unlike anabolic steroids (the kind used by bodybuilders and what most people think of when they hear "steroids"), corticosteroids have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body. On the one hand, they calm down our diseases and can pull us out of a flare like nothing else. On the other hand, the side effects can be wicked, especially with long-term high dosages.
The first time a corticosteroid worked for me was actually an accident. Like lots of people with difficult to diagnose illnesses, my doctors thought at first that I had something else. In my case, they thought it was asthma. The rescue inhaler didn't make a difference with my air hunger (dyspnea), but ADVAIR did. Go figure, it contains a corticosteroid.
Ultimately, I'm grateful that there's something out there that can help, but I look forward to the day when it's something that isn't such a double-edged sword (or, better yet, is an actual cure).
Have you taken prednisone or another steroid treatment? What were your experiences like?
For more information about corticosteroids, check out the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center's "Prednisone" page.