Adrenal glands, which are also referred to as the suprarenal glands, are paired triangular-shaped endocrine glands, each of which is located on the top of the kidney. Adrenal cortex, which is the outer portion of these glands, performs the vital function of producing steroid hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol, and testosterone. Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol helps in regulating the changes that occur when one is under stress. Corticosteroids are a class of drugs that imitate the anti-inflammatory effects of cortisol or naturally-occurring steroid hormones. Marketed under the brand name Medrol, methylprednisolone is a synthetic corticosteroid. It is available in the form of oral tablets, liquids, capsules, inhalers, eye drops, injections, intravenous solutions, topical creams, and gels.
Methylprednisolone is prescribed for the treatment of conditions that are characterized by inflammation. It is recommended for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, acute gout, ulcerative colitis, allergies, inflammatory conditions of eyes (conditions involving the uvea, conjunctiva, and optic nerves), psoriatic arthritis, etc. It is essential to take this drug as per the dosage and duration recommended by one's healthcare provider. It is essential to inform your healthcare provider about the other drugs that you are taking currently. This is to ensure that adverse drug interactions don't take place. The following sections list out the side effects of medrol.
Adverse Effects Associated with Medrol Usage
It has been observed that taking this drug for a short duration is less likely to cause adverse effects. On the other hand, taking this drug in large doses or taking it for a long duration could put one at a risk of experiencing untoward effects. These include:
- Upset stomach
- Slow healing of wounds
- Increased sweating
- Mood changes
- Increased hair growth
- Easy bruising
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
Seek medical assistance at the earliest, if you experience the following symptoms:
- Skin rash
- Swelling in the face, lower legs, or ankles
- Vision problems
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Black or tarry stool
- Low potassium levels
- Inflamed pancreas (severe pain in the upper stomach that radiates to the back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate)
Inform your doctor if:
- You are allergic to any ingredient in Medrol
- You are taking mifepristone
- You have a systemic fungal infection
- You are scheduled to have a smallpox vaccine
Under such circumstances, the use of Medrol is avoided.
Also, the healthcare provider should be informed in the following cases:
- If you are taking prescription/non-prescription drugs or herbal supplements
- If you are planning to become pregnant, or are pregnant or breastfeeding
- If you have a heart condition, kidney or liver problems, diabetes, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, stomach ulcers, intestinal problems, weak bones, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, seizures, mood disorder, or mental problems
- If you are allergic to certain food items or drugs
- If you have recently had a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection
- If you have had any recent vaccination
While some of the side effects are common and mild, some are serious. Medical assistance must be sought in case of serious side effects. For instance, medical help must be sought, if one develops an allergic reaction to Medrol, or any of the ingredients of the drug.
Methylprednisolone is not recommended for children, as long-term use can slow down the growth and development of infants and children. It must be noted that this drug could have an effect on the blood sugar levels. Thus, it is advisable to monitor one's blood sugar levels. Also, adverse drug interactions could occur if Medrol is taken with aspirin, diuretics, blood thinners, cyclosporine, insulin or oral diabetes medication, ketoconazole, rifampin, seizure medications, etc.
Other serious side effects of Medrol include elevated blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels due to increased potassium loss. In such cases, certain dietary modifications might be required. For instance, the affected individual might be asked to follow a low-salt diet. Also, the use of potassium supplements might be recommended.
Long-term use of this drug could make one susceptible to calcium loss, which in turn might make one susceptible to osteoporosis, a condition that makes one susceptible to brittle bones. In such cases, the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements might be recommended.
Medrol can modify the way your body responds to unusual stress. Extended use of this drug can lower the ability of adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. This is the reason why healthcare providers gradually lower the dosage. Also, gradually decreasing the dosage before stopping the drug can help prevent withdrawal symptoms, which occur due to sudden discontinuation of the drug.
On a concluding note, Medrol is more likely to cause untoward effects, when it is taken for a long period. It must be taken under medical supervision, as per the dosage recommended by the healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.