Methylprednisolone is an anti-inflammatory synthetic corticosteroid, that if taken over a long period, gives rise to serious side effects. Methylprednisolone side effects can cause serious physical and psychological problems, especially when taken in high dosage.
Methylprednisolone is a glucocorticoid, prescribed for a variety of conditions, ranging from various allergic problems to certain type of arthritis or liver, kidney, thyroid, blood, eye and intestine disorders. It is available in USA and Canada under the names of Medrol, Cadista and Solu-Medrol.
What is Methylprednisolone Prescribed for?
Some conditions for which methylprednisolone can be prescribed are:
- Skin allergies and other skin diseases like psoriasis, dermatitis herpetiformis, seborrheic dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, etc
- Endocrine disorders such as adrenocortical insufficiency, adrenal hyperplasia and hypercalcemia
- Rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Collagen diseases such as polymyositis and acute rheumatic carditis
- For tuberculous meningitis and multiple sclerosis
- Leukemia and other blood-related disorders
- Intestinal disorder like ulcerative colitis
- Certain ophthalmic and respiratory disorders
- For treating certain types of cancer
Methylprednisolone should be taken strictly as prescribed by the doctor. If taken in high dosage over a long period of time, it can cause many side-effects.
Signs of an Overdose
Overdose of methylprednisolone can cause eye problems like blurry vision. It can lead to acne, dry skin and increased facial hair, or thinning of skin that can cause easy bruising. Other symptoms are decreased libido, depression, change in the location of body fats, insomnia, increased sweating, stomach pain, bloating, slow healing of wounds, and menstrual irregularities. Some people may also have allergic reactions to this drug with symptoms like itching, swelling and even rashes on the body. Respiratory allergies may include development of asthma and wheezing. If you notice any of these side effects while taking the medicine, talk to your doctor immediately, or else it might lead to potentially serious side effects which are listed below.
Serious Side Effects
» Muscle and Skeletal Disorders
High dose of methylprednisolone can affect your muscles, cause muscle pain and loss of muscle mass. Sometimes, your bones can become brittle, and it can cause fractures in the long bones and vertebrae and tendon rupture. It can also lead to osteoporosis.
» Gastrointestinal Side Effects
Methylprednisolone can lead to stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers), pancreatitis and ulcers in the food tube or esophagus. As a result, you may have bloody and tarry stool or may cough out blood.
» Eye Disorders
If taken without monitoring the dosage, it can affect the eye such as cataract, increased eye pressure, glaucoma and exophthalmos.
» Fluid Retention and Nutrient Loss
It can cause fluid and electrolyte retention causing disorders such as hypokalemic alkalosis, potassium loss, sodium loss, congestive heart failure in high-risk patients, and fluid retention.
» Nervous System Disorders
Intracranial pressure is increased, affecting the encephala or nerve points enclosed within the skull. This can cause convulsions, headaches and vertigo.
» Disorders of the Endocrine System
As methylprednisolone is a synthetic glucocorticoid, it directly affects the endocrine system and may cause Cushing’s syndrome due to excessive cortisol production, hormonal imbalances causing stunted growth in children, unresponsiveness of the adrenocortical and pituitary centers, and improper production of insulin.
This is not a complete list of side effects, as the drug methylprednisolone can affect different individuals differently. Before taking methylprednisolone, you should tell your doctor about your medical history, and any prescribed or non-prescribed drugs that you have been taking.
- Methylprednisolone leads to a decreased resistance to infections. So, while you are on this drug, make sure to avoid contact with people suffering from any infectious disease.
- Avoid driving and using heavy machinery if you are on this drug, as it causes dizziness.
- Methylprednisolone use during pregnancy is not advisable and a doctor must be consulted before it is administered.
- Prolonged use of this drug can suppress the adrenal gland’s ability to produce natural corticosteroids.
- Sudden cessation of this drug can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. To avoid such adverse effects, its dose is gradually tapered before completely stopping it.
As with all artificial steroids, methylprednisolone side effects too, can be numerous. However, controlled use under the careful monitoring of a trained physician can help prevent any adverse side effects.
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.