Prednisolone contains lactose! Why do steroids contain dairy?

Prednisolone is usually in a tablet form and is used to treat allergic and inflammatory conditions such as asthma, allergies and skin conditions, amongst other things. What I’m wondering is why a drug to treat allergies should ever contain one of the thirteen main allergens?

Absolutely loads of drugs contain lactose, including health, vitamin and mineral supplements. It seems the onus is always on the patient or customer to check ingredients for everything; don’t get complacent and ever assume the doctor you’ve visited has studied your medical notes and has checked the drugs he/she is prescribing are suitable. Always, always check.

I was lucky this time. I only had minor effects including flushing and redness of the skin on my face and mild itching. Wondering what was causing this I checked the packet and discovered very quickly why, so why hadn’t I checked? With my asthma seeming to swing out of control lately with little relief from either the preventative or the regular inhaler I thought these steroids would help me get back to normal. After struggling to breathe for months and suffering a serious asthma attack needing a hospital visit to A&E I was desperate, but Prednisalone is not the answer for anyone with a dairy allergy as it contains lactose.

Why do so many drugs contain lactose?
Drug manufacturers use lactose as a filler or coating. It’s brilliant for the purpose because it’s almost tasteless, creates a brilliant coating when sprayed onto pills, prevents caking and ‘hardly anyone reacts to it as an ingredient’. But if ‘hardly anyone’ is you that’s not much consolation. You might like to read Steve Carper’s blog Lactose Intolerance Clearing House to find out more about why lactose is so widely used in pills and drugs.

What do Prednisolone tablets contain?
The active ingredient is prednisolone 1mg or 5mg. The other active ingredients are lactose monohyrate, dextrin, maize starch and stearic acid (E570)

If you have anaphylaxis to dairy then you shouldn’t take the risk. According to Steve Carper’s blog, every drug has a lactose free alternative so ask your doctor to check. They will probably have to dig out their bible of drugs and leaf through and check, but there is always another option. It is probably not the cheapest option but if you have an allergy, are vegan, or have other reasons for opting for drugs without lactose insist that your doctor checks.

I’ll let you know if I find a dairy free alternative but am trying to cope without the steroids. The list of side effects really puts me off. When prescribed, the doctor told me about the side effects but she highlighted that it could cause “feelings of hightened well being” and “increased appetite”. She didn’t mention that on the minus side it can also cause depression, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, I could go on – the list of nasty side side effects is LONG!

Have you used Prednisolone and have a dairy allergy? Did you have an adverse effects? Or have you found a dairy free alternative steroid for asthma? Is anyone else’s asthma bad at the moment? Or is it just me?

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Ask for soluble prednisolone. It tastes foul but doesn’t contain lactose. Good luck!

    • Hey Yvette Thanks! I will do. Not liking the sound of the ‘tastes foul’ bit but I’m sure I can disguise it in something. Failing that will just have to eat something extra nice afterwards. Any excuse!

  2. Judy Daugherty says:

    I posted comments & questions yesterday re: prescription drugs with lactose and/or povidone. Where did it go????????????????? Seems this site is just as bad as big pharma…

    • Hi Judy. I’ve checked my spam and I can’t see your comment. All comments come to me first for approval unless someone has already commented elsewhere and had a comment approved. If you have time I would love to hear your comment, as I’m sure would my readers. I’m sorry you think I’m just as bad as a big pharma! You couldn’t be further from the truth but this blog is my hobby and I do my best to make sure the website is working properly. WordPress is normally very reliable to apologies that your comment disappeared. If I do find it in my spam I will approve but it blocks hundreds of spam comments all the time.

    • Judy! I found your comment on a similar blog post at:
      I’ve replied to you. Thought your name sounded familiar.

  3. it’s crazy but all the otc allergy meds have lactose in them too!

  4. In 2011 I adopted a low carb diets, mostly free of wheat and sugar, and my need for the asthma inhaler went bye bye. Maybe your sensitive to gluten.

  5. I had terrible wheezing when laying down to sleep at night. Just couldn’t figure out why, when I was on top of my asthma meds. I then decided to check labels and there it was, lactose in cetirizine tablets. Switched myself over to liquid cetirizine and the asthma went! Doctor looked at me like I’m nuts when I asked for the repeat script to be in liquid form, but he did what I asked so what the hey.

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