What is Medrol?
Medrol, otherwise known as methylprednisolone, is a corticosteroid used for the purpose of reducing inflammation attributed to injury, chronic and autoimmune conditions (such as asthma and lupus), severe allergies, and various other medical conditions.
How is Medrol Used?
Medrol can be used alongside other medications or by itself. It comes in either a dose pack or a standard medication bottle containing the tablets along with instructions on when and how to take the medication.
Medrol should be stored in a controlled environment at room temperature (between 68°F and 77°F). It should be disposed of if it becomes outdated or is no longer needed. Contact a healthcare professional or a local pharmacy to ask about the safe and appropriate disposal of any unneeded or outdated medications.
Keep this medication out of the reach of children at all times.
Avoid letting your medication be exposed to direct light, moisture/humidity, excessive heat, or freezing temperatures.
Medrol is prescribed for a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:
- Severe allergies
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Eye swelling or ulcers
- Blood cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
- Lymphatic cancer
- Psoriasis and other skin conditions
- Lupus and other collagen-related diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Certain endocrine disorders
- Respiratory conditions
How Does Medrol Work?
Medrol is absorbed via the patient’s gastrointestinal tract after being consumed orally in tablet form. It is often prescribed to be taken in regular and decreasing intervals to alleviate the symptoms caused by persistent or excessive inflammation. It does this by altering the immune response within the body and suppressing the immune system by mimicking glucocorticoid hormones to reduce the production of leukocytes (i.e., white blood cells).
Most patients notice Medrol begin working within just a couple of hours of taking their first dose.
Patients should take this medication as exactly prescribed by their doctor to avoid an increased risk of side effects or other adverse reactions.
Medrol is available in the strengths below:
- 2 mg tablets
- 4 mg tablets
- 8 mg tablets
- 16 mg tablets
- 32 mg tablets
The appropriate dosage of Medrol will need to be determined by your physician based on the specific medical condition for which it is being prescribed. This will vary by patient, and patients will need to follow their doctor’s instructions regarding the frequency and dosage of the medication. Do not modify the provided schedule recommended by your doctor or the packaging instructions when taking Medrol. Patients will need to stick to the appropriate dosage, frequency, and duration of taking the medication to appropriately treat the associated medical condition for which it has been prescribed and avoid adverse reactions.
If overdose is suspected, please contact your doctor or your local Poison Control Center. Medrol is not typically associated with life-threatening symptoms from overconsumption, and patients are more at risk of side effects from prolonged use compared to an accidental overdose.
However, if you experience a dangerous increase in blood pressure, water or salt retention with excessive swelling, or symptoms attributed to low levels of potassium that are significantly severe, call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room.
If you experience any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek out immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include swelling of the mouth, face, eyes, hands, or throat; a rash or hives; itching; trouble swallowing; or difficulty breathing.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience vision problems, tarry or black stool, muscle weakness, a swollen face, or excessive swelling in your lower legs or ankles.
The most common side effects of taking Medrol are as follows:
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
Some of the following side effects may occur and should be discussed with your doctor if they remain persistent or increase in severity while taking Medrol:
- An increase in hair growth
- Stomach disturbances
- Absent or irregular menstruation
- Sleep difficulties
Please contact your doctor for further information if you experience any of the following additional side effects and have any concerns.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects
- Inflammation of the esophagus
- Peptic ulcers
Musculoskeletal Side Effects
- Reduction of muscle mass
- Muscle weakness
Electrolyte and Fluid-Associated Side Effects
- Fluid retention
- Increased blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Loss of potassium
- Retention of sodium
Neurological Side Effects
- An increase in intracranial pressure
Psychiatric Side Effects
- Changes in personality
- Excessive excitability or feelings of happiness
Dermatologic Side Effects
- Suppressed reaction to any skin tests
- Redness of the face
- Impaired wound healing
- Increased fragility of the skin
- Thinning of the skin
Endocrine Side Effects
- Suppressed growth (in children)
- Irregular menstruation
- Changes in insulin production
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Development of Cushing syndrome or associated symptoms
- Weight loss
Metabolic Side Effects
- Skin rash
Ophthalmic Side Effects
- Changes in eye pressure
- Eye pain
- Changes in vision
- Bulging eyes
Warnings & Precautions
Patients taking Medrol will need to be monitored by their doctors for the development of conditions such as hypokalemia, infection, osteoporosis, glycosuria, hyperglycemia, hypertension, edema, and sodium retention. This can be done through the use of blood and urine tests.
Corticosteroids, such as Medrol, may also mask the signs typically associated with infection and make these harder to detect. Patients taking this medication are at an increased risk of bacterial, viral, protozoan, helminthic, and fungal infections due to suppression of the immune system. This suppression may also lead to more severe symptoms associated with infection as well as an increased risk of fatality and a reduced ability to keep such an infection localized within the body.
Individuals with preexisting emotional instability or other psychological concerns may experience increased severity of symptoms while taking Medrol.
Children are typically treated with the lowest dose of Medrol possible as determined safe and beneficial by their doctor. Impaired growth has been shown to occur in children taking this medication for longer periods of time, and their development will need to be monitored closely.
Taking steroid medications, such as Medrol, can lead to adrenal insufficiency and affect the levels of cortisol being produced within the body. Symptoms of this condition include dizziness, fainting, increased urination, increased thirst, weakness, fatigue, blurred vision, and a heartbeat that is irregular, pounding, or quick.
The immune suppression that occurs as a result of taking this medication can lead to an increased risk of infection. Patients prescribed Medrol and taking it as instructed should wash their hands often and practice proper hygiene to decrease their chances of infection. These patients will also need to avoid individuals who have infections or may be sick. Contact a doctor immediately if you are taking Medrol and are exposed to measles or chickenpox or develop symptoms of infection such as fever, a sore throat, chills, swollen lymph nodes, or other recognizable symptoms commonly associated with infection.
Individuals taking Medrol should avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking this medication as it will increase the levels of Medrol present in the body and thereby increase the chances of side effects occurring.
When Medrol is taken for an extended period of time, patients are at risk of the medication causing high cortisol levels. If you are prescribed and taking this medication and experiencing any significant additional stress in your life, be sure to share this information with your doctor. Your dose or frequency of taking this medication may need to be adjusted to accommodate the body’s natural increase in cortisol alongside the changes caused by the medication itself.
Any patient taking Medrol should not receive any immunizations nor be exposed to individuals who have received live vaccines. Medrol lowers a patient’s immune response, meaning that the vaccine may be less effective or the individual may contract the condition the immunization was intended to prevent. Individuals taking Medrol are also at risk for contracting viruses from those who have recently received live vaccines, such as those for mumps, measles, rotavirus, rubella, poliovirus, and influenza (for those who received the nasal vaccination for the flu). If someone in your household has received a live vaccine while you are taking this medication, contact your physician for additional information on how to reduce your risk of infection.
The development or occurrence of psychiatric symptoms is not uncommon for individuals taking Medrol that may be sensitive to corticosteroids or that are already experiencing psychological health concerns. Speak to your doctor about any mental health conditions or related concerns before beginning this medication, and contact your doctor if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms after beginning your course of treatment involving Medrol: personality changes, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, depression, euphoria, behavioral disturbances, acute psychosis, symptoms of anxiety, or cognitive impairment.
Medications such as Medrol are associated with fluid retention and increased retention of sodium. This can lead to edema, hypokalemia (low potassium), and hypertension (increased blood pressure). Patients with pre-existing hypertension will need to be carefully monitored by their doctor and discuss if changes to their current hypertension medications will need to be made in response to the presence of corticosteroids.
Long-term or high-dose use of Medrol has been linked to instances of osteoporosis, bone loss, and an increased frequency of broken bones. Taking Medrol for the shortest length of time possible will reduce your risk of osteoporosis and associated fractures. Speak to your doctor about weighing the risks versus the benefits when prescribing Medrol if you are currently at risk of experiencing osteoporosis or other bone-related conditions or have already been diagnosed with this condition.
Medrol is listed as a category C medication, meaning that a pregnant individual may be prescribed this medication if her physician has determined the benefits of Medrol outweigh any potential risks to the unborn baby. Medrol has not been confirmed to cause any abnormalities in children born of mothers who were prescribed and took this medication as instructed during pregnancy. Short-term use is generally considered safe, but it is recommended that infants be monitored for hypoadrenalism after birth for mothers who took this medication during pregnancy.
Additional Medical Conditions
If you have any of the following medical conditions, exercise caution when taking Medrol and discuss your medical history with your doctor before beginning this medication:
- Myasthenia gravis
- Ocular herpes simplex
- Heart disease
- Liver problems
- Systemic sclerosis
Speak to your doctor about any medications or herbal supplements you are currently taking before beginning treatment with Medrol. This medication is known to interact with certain vitamins, herbs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or a trusted pharmacist.
Drugs That Amplify the Risk of Medrol Side Effects
These medications are known to interact with Medrol and may increase your chances of experiencing adverse Medrol side effects:
Drugs That Should Not Be Used with Medrol
The following should never be used alongside Medrol and may result in severe infection and other serious health concerns:
- Live vaccines (varicella/chickenpox, nasal flu vaccine, MMR)
Drugs Whose Side Effects May Be Increased When Taken with Medrol
These medications may have their side effects become more serious or prominent when taken in conjunction with Medrol:
- Heparin and warfarin
Speak to your doctor before starting Medrol if you currently take any supplements or medications to manage blood clotting conditions.
Drugs That May Make Medrol Less Effective
When taken with the following, Medrol may be less effective and not work as well:
Other Drugs That May Interact with Medrol
The following medications are also indicated to potentially cause interactions when used while taking Medrol:
- Aluminum hydroxide
- Amphotericin B
- Acetylsalicylic acid
- Birth control pills
- Calcium carbonate
- Diabetes medications
- HIV NNRTIs
- HIV protease inhibitors
- Macrolide antibiotics
- Magnesium hydroxide
- Muscle relaxers
- Quinolone antibiotics
- Tacrolimus (topical)
- Tuberculosis vaccine (BCG)
For patients who are unable to take Medrol or experiencing significant adverse side effects, alternative medications may be used to treat some of the associated conditions for which this medication is commonly prescribed:
Inflammatory Condition Alternatives
Rheumatoid Arthritis Alternatives
Allergic Rhinitis Alternatives
Multiple Sclerosis Alternatives