Medrol (Methylprednisolone) Side Effects (2022)

As with taking any drug, the side effects of Medrol (methylprednisolone)—a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis—must be carefully considered.

The most commonly reported side effects of methylprednisolone include upset stomach, headache, and insomnia. What you may experience can vary depending on the dose you take, duration of treatment, underlying conditions, and other medications you're taking.

Learn more about the side effects of methylprednisolone, including when it may not be suitable for you and the side effects that require immediate medical attention.

Medrol (Methylprednisolone) Side Effects (1)

Common Methylprednisolone Side Effects

Methylprednisolone is typically given orally by Medrol dose packs and sometimes by injection either intravenously (into a vein), intramuscularly (into a muscle), or intra-articulaly (into a joint).

Generally, dosages of either form are given in short durations and cause minimal side effects.

That said, methylprednisolone side effects are more commonly seen with the oral form of the corticosteroid rather than injectable forms. There is, however, a higher risk of skin complications such as skin hypopigmentation (skin discoloration) with injections.

The most common side effects of methylprednisolone include:

  • An upset stomach
  • Stomach irritation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Acne
  • Increased hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Easy bruising
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods

Some of these side effects may go away during your course of treatment as your body becomes more accustomed to methylprednisolone. Your healthcare provider may also be able to prescribe ways to manage, prevent, and reduce these concerns.

Serious Side Effects of Methylprednisolone

Methylprednisolone can produce serious side effects that require medical treatment.

Serious methylprednisolone side effects include:

  • Fluid and electrolyte problems: This could involve sodium retention, hypertension, congestive heart failure (CHF), and potassium loss
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms: Muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, and tendon rupture
  • Gastrointestinal side effects: A peptic ulcer, pancreatitis, and ulcerative esophagitis
  • Skin conditions: Impaired wound healing, thinning and fragility of the skin, facial erythema, or reddening of the skin
  • Neurological complications: Convulsions and vertigo
  • Endocrine problems: Suppression of growth in children, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia
  • Eye problems: Development of posterior subcapsular cataracts or glaucoma
  • Metabolic issues: Negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism
  • Cardiac problems: An increased or decreased heart rate and symptoms of a heart attack like chest pain

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following side effects, call your healthcare provider right away or seek emergency assistance:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion, personality changes, decreased alertness
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling of the face, lower legs, or ankles
  • Changes in vision
  • A cold or infection that lasts for a sustained period
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tarry or black stool
  • Convulsions
  • Vertigo
  • Excessive vomiting or vomiting blood
  • Chest pain or other symptoms of heart attack
(Video) Methylprednisolone - Mechanism, side effects, precautions & uses

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Methylprednisolone Warnings

Your healthcare provider will monitor your use of the drug throughout your course of treatment. This may involve surveillance with blood pressure measurements, and/or blood and urine tests.

Your healthcare provider may also ask you to weigh yourself regularly and report any unusual weight changes while you are taking Medrol.

If you plan on getting a Medrol dose pack, you should be aware that the use of this drug comes with several warnings:

  • Allergy: Do not take Medrol if you are allergic to methylprednisolone or any ingredients contained in this drug.
  • Pregnancy: If you're using this drug while pregnant, it could harm your unborn child. If you believe you've become pregnant during the course of treatment, make sure you contact your healthcare provider right away.
  • Stress and anxiety: Notify your healthcare provider if you are currently experiencing significant stress and anxiety in your life. Depending on your emotional and psychological health, your healthcare provider may alter your dosage.
  • Adrenal gland problems: People who are on methylprednisolone for a long period of time or who are using too much of it may have an increased risk of developing adrenal gland problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing blurred vision, fast or pounding heartbeat, increased urination or thirst, fainting and dizziness, irritability, or if you feel unusually tired or weak.
  • Ulcers: If you have a history of ulcers or take large doses of aspirin or arthritis medication, limit your alcohol consumption while on Medrol. Methylprednisolone makes your stomach and intestines more susceptible to the irritating effects of alcohol, aspirin, and certain arthritis medications, which increases your risk of ulcers.
  • Diabetes: Methylprednisolone may increase your blood sugar level. If you monitor your blood sugar (glucose) at home, test your blood or urine more frequently than usual. Call your healthcare provider if your blood sugar is high or if sugar is present in your urine.
  • Infections: Corticosteroids like methylprednisolone may hide some signs of an infection. You should avoid people who are sick to prevent exposure to contagious infections. Be sure to practice good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly. Notify your healthcare provider if you think you've been exposed to measles or chickenpox.
  • Immunizations: Avoid getting any vaccinations without your healthcare provider's approval while you're on this drug. Medrol may decrease your body's resistance and weaken a vaccine's effectiveness.
  • Behavioral changes: You may experience shifts in your behavior, such as depression, sudden mood swings, disruption in your sleep patterns, and personality shifts while on methylprednisolone. Notify your healthcare provider if you notice any of these changes.

You may also be asked to report any injuries or signs of infection like fever, sore throat, pain during urination, and muscle aches that occur during treatment.

Stopping Methylprednisolone

Do not stop taking methylprednisolone without talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping the drug abruptly can cause adverse effects, including blood sugar fluctuations, loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, headaches, fevers, joint and muscle pain, peeling skin, and weight loss.

Drug Interactions

Methylprednisolone can interact with other medications you are currently taking. Before starting a course of treatment, notify your healthcare provider about other drugs you are taking.

Keep your healthcare provider informed if you start any new medications while on your Medrol dose pack, and let them know of any adverse reactions you experience.

Some medications should be avoided while you are on methylprednisolone:

(Video) Side effects from corticosteroids

  • Avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because the combination can increase your risk of ulcers.
  • Using cyclosporine and methylprednisolone at the same time can inhibit your metabolism. Using both drugs together has resulted in convulsions in some people.
  • Drugs like phenobarbital, phenytoin, and rifampin increase the clearance of Medrol (the rate at which the active drug is removed from the body), which could mean you'll need an increased dose for it to be effective.
  • Antibiotic medications like troleandomycin and ketoconazole inhibit the body's ability to metabolize methylprednisolone and decrease its clearance rate. This would require the drug to be titrated so that you can avoid steroid toxicity in your system.
  • Aspirin is another common drug that should be used with caution since Medrol increases the clearance of high-dose aspirin in the body.

This is not a complete list of all potential drug interactions with methylprednisolone. Consult your healthcare provider about how best to approach a course of Medrol treatment while on other medications and follow their instructions closely.

Get Tips on How to Reduce Your Risk of Adverse Medication Interactions

A Word From Verywell

While methylprednisolone can be a helpful medication for treating inflammation, ask your healthcare provider about any possible side effects before starting this drug.

Knowing ahead of time what potential side effects you may experience while on methylprednisolone will help you recognize warning signs so you can call your healthcare provider or seek emergency medical help.

Being informed about Medrol and being on top of how your body is responding to it will ensure that you get the best possible treatment for your chronic inflammation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you drink coffee while on methylprednisolone?

    There are no notable reported risks when coffee is taken with methylprednisolone. However, if you experience side effects with caffeine, it may be best to limit your caffeine intake while on methylprednisolone so that you do not add to the possible side effects you may experience from the drug.

  • Can you drink alcohol when on a corticosteroid like methylprednisolone?

    There are no specific warnings against drinking alcohol when on methylprednisolone. For many, moderately drinking alcohol while on corticosteroids like methylprednisolone should be considered safe. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it's OK in your case.

    (Video) The Bad of Corticosteroids | Johns Hopkins

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7 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. MedlinePlus.Methylprednisolone.

  2. Kirkland SW, Cross E, Campbell S, Villa-Roel C, Rowe BH. Intramuscular versus oral corticosteroids to reduce relapses following discharge from the emergency department for acute asthma.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;6(6):CD012629. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012629.pub2

  3. Stone S, Malanga G, Capella T. Corticosteroids: Review of the history, the effectiveness, and adverse effects in the treatment of joint pain.Pain Physician. 2021;24:S233-S246.

  4. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone.

  5. Mayo Clinic. Methylprednisolone (Oral route).

  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine.Medrol® methylprednisolone tablets, USP.

    (Video) Prednisone Side Effects - What You Need To Know

  7. UMPC Hillman Cancer Center. Methylprednisolone (Medrol, Solu-Medrol).

(Video) Medical Index - Short and Long Term Side Effects from Corticosteroids

FAQs

Medrol (Methylprednisolone) Side Effects? ›

The more common side effects of methylprednisolone can include:
  • headache.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • weight gain.
  • confusion, excitement, and restlessness.
  • swelling of your ankles, feet, or hands.
  • skin problems, such as acne, thin skin, and shiny skin.
  • increased thirst.
  • infection.

What are the most common side effects of methylprednisolone? ›

What are the common side effects of Medrol? ›

Nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, appetite changes, increased sweating, or acne may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

How long does Medrol effects last? ›

by Drugs.com

After taking a dose of a Methylprednisolone tablet it should be out of your system after approximately 13 to 20 hours. Methylprednisolone tablets have an elimination half-life of approximately 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours. This is the time it takes for the drug levels in your plasma to reduce by half.

What happens if I stop taking methylprednisolone? ›

This is because after some days or weeks of taking steroids your body stops making enough of its own steroids to maintain important functions (such as blood pressure). A sudden withdrawal from medication may cause a sharp fall in blood pressure and affect blood sugar levels.

What foods should I avoid while taking methylPREDNISolone? ›

methylPREDNISolone food

Grapefruit juice may increase the blood levels of certain medications such as methylPREDNISolone. You may want to limit your consumption of grapefruit and grapefruit juice during treatment with methylPREDNISolone.

How does methylPREDNISolone make you feel? ›

The more common side effects of methylprednisolone can include: headache. nausea and vomiting. weight gain.

Is Medrol a strong steroid? ›

Methylprednisolone is stronger than prednisone: prednisone is four times as potent as cortisol, a steroid hormone that is present in the body. methylprednisolone is five times as potent as cortisol.

How long does Medrol take to work? ›

Medrol begins to work quickly. It reaches its peak effect about two hours after an oral dose is taken.

Why Medrol is used in Covid? ›

In patients with COVID-19, treatment with methylprednisolone may reduce short-term mortality and the need for intensive care unit (ICU) admission and mechanical ventilation, according to a meta-analysis published in Steroids.

Why is methylprednisolone given? ›

It is used to treat a number of different conditions, such as inflammation (swelling), severe allergies, adrenal problems, arthritis, asthma, blood or bone marrow problems, eye or vision problems, lupus, skin conditions, kidney problems, ulcerative colitis, and flare-ups of multiple sclerosis.

How long does methylprednisolone take to work for inflammation? ›

Methylprednisolone works quickly. It reaches its peak effect within about one hour after an intravenous dose. Its peak effect is about two hours when given orally.

Does Medrol make you gain weight? ›

Most of the weight gain is due to sodium retention, so switch to a low-sodium diet while taking this drug. Methylprednisolone also increases the body's weight by ramping up the body's production of glucose, so it's also a good idea to go on a healthy, lean protein diet.

Do I take all 6 methylprednisolone pills at once? ›

It's best to take prednisone as a single dose once a day straight after breakfast. For example if your dose is 30mg daily, it's usual to take 6 tablets (6 x 5mg) all at the same time after breakfast.

Does methylprednisolone make your heart race? ›

Prednisone may cause what is known as tachycardia, or a rapid heart rate over 100 beats per minute. In clinical studies, other possible adverse cardiovascular effects reported were: Cardiac arrhythmias. Bradycardia (slowed heart rate)

Who should not take methylprednisolone? ›

Methylprednisolone can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.

Can I take vitamin D with methylprednisolone? ›

No interactions were found between methylprednisolone and Vitamin D3. However, this does not necessarily mean no interactions exist. Always consult your healthcare provider.

Can I drink coffee while taking methylprednisolone? ›

In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be avoided. You should also limit caffeine intake (colas, tea, coffee and chocolate, especially). These beverages may irritate your stomach.

How strong is 4 mg of methylprednisolone? ›

The main difference between oral methylprednisolone and oral prednisone is that methylprednisolone is slightly stronger than prednisone, so a lower dosage is used (4mg of methylprednisolone is equivalent to approximately 5mg of prednisone).

How much Medrol should I take? ›

Adults—At first, 4 to 48 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

How long does your immune system take to recover after steroids? ›

Immune system suppression after steroid intake ranges from 3 weeks to 2 months. Kindly continue your medications for diabetes and maintain your sugar level within normal limits. Follow COVID appropriate behavior.

Why do steroids make you feel better? ›

When taken in doses higher than the amount your body normally produces, steroids reduce redness and swelling (inflammation). This can help with inflammatory conditions such as asthma and eczema. Steroids also reduce the activity of the immune system, which is the body's natural defence against illness and infection.

Does Medrol keep you awake? ›

It turns out that corticosteroids — medications that help treat inflammatory conditions, such as methylprednisolone (Medrol) — are modeled after the cortisol hormone. So they can also cause insomnia.

Does methylprednisolone help back pain? ›

Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally as a Medrol dose pack tapered over a five-day period or by an injection directly into the pain source (see epidural steroid injections and facet injections). Steroids may provide immediate pain relief within 24-hours.

How often can I take a Medrol pack? ›

Medrol Dosepak is sometimes taken every other day. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully. Your dose needs may change if you have unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency.

Which is safer prednisone or methylprednisolone? ›

The side effects of prednisone can also include losing touch with reality. For this reason, doctors may prescribe methylprednisolone to someone with a risk of mental health conditions instead of prednisone to reduce the risk of psychosis. Due to these side effects, doctors may avoid prescribing these corticosteroids.

How long does methylprednisolone take to work for inflammation? ›

Methylprednisolone works quickly. It reaches its peak effect within about one hour after an intravenous dose. Its peak effect is about two hours when given orally.

What are the long term effects of methylprednisolone? ›

Long-Term Effects

Long-term treatment: Risk of osteoporosis, myopathy, delayed wound healing. Prolonged corticosteroid use may result in elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), glaucoma, or cataracts.

How long do side effects last after stopping methylprednisolone? ›

It's normal to feel some mild symptoms for about a week or two as you taper off prednisone. Don't take any OTC pain medicine or prescription drugs without asking your doctor first. Psychological withdrawal symptoms could last for 2 to 8 weeks.

Videos

1. What Makes Corticosteroids so Beneficial? | Johns Hopkins
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