Medrol (Methylprednisolone) - Oral

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What Is Medrol?

Medrol (methylprednisolone) is a prescription medication used to treat inflammation in the body related to several medical conditions such as rheumatic diseases, blood disorders, severe allergies, and eye problems.

Medrol belongs to a class of medications known as glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids work by changing your body’s immune response and decreasing inflammation. Medrol is available in tablet form only by prescription.

Methylprednisolone is also available for injection under the brand names Depo-Medrol and Solu-Medrol.

Drug Facts

  • Generic Name: Methylprednisolone
  • Brand Name(s): Medrol, Medrol Dosepak, Methylpred-DP
  • Administration Route(s): Oral
  • Drug Availability: Prescription
  • Therapeutic Classification: Endocrine-metabolic agent
  • Available Generically: Yes
  • Controlled Substance: N/A
  • Active Ingredient: Methylprednisolone
  • Dosage Form(s): Tablet

What Is Medrol Used For?

Medrol helps control inflammation and treat:

How to Take Medrol

Medrol is available as an oral tablet, meant to be taken by mouth. How often you take Medrol depends on what condition you are using it to treat and how your body reacts to the medication.

You can take Medrol with or without food.

Storage

Store methylprednisolone at a controlled room temperature, which is about 68 F to 77 F.

When traveling, always carry your medication with you. If you are flying, make sure to keep the original prescription-labeled bottle or box in your carry-on bag. Don’t leave this medication in your car, especially if the weather is very cold or hot.

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.

What Are the Side Effects of Medrol?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Like most medications, Medrol can cause mild or severe side effects. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you experience, especially if they persist or worsen.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects with methylprednisolone include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness
  • Increased thirst
  • High blood pressure
  • Acne
  • Swelling of teeth, ankles, or hands
  • Muscle weakness
  • Infection
  • Depression

Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist if any of these side effects don’t go away or become more severe.

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Allergic reactions with symptoms such as hives, shortness of breath, rash, fever, and swelling of the lips, mouth, or tongue
  • Mood changes with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or psychosis
  • Changes in vision, bulging eyes, or eye pain
  • Pain in hips, back, shoulders, arms, or legs
  • Diabetes
  • Trouble urinating
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Low potassium levels, which can weakness or irregular heart rhythms
  • Hormone changes with symptoms such as lack of energy, appetite loss, nausea or vomiting, joint or muscle pain, headache, low blood pressure, weight loss, and skin irritation

Report Side Effects

Medrol may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Medrol Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

For oral dosage form (tablets):

Dose depends on medical condition:

  • 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.

Modifications

In some cases, your healthcare provider may need to modify your Medrol dose.

A person aged 65 years or older often processes drugs more slowly. A lower dose or different dosing schedule may be required.

Additionally, this medication can cause the body to stop making certain hormones on its own. Your healthcare provider will monitor your dose to help decrease the risk of this potential effect.

Medrol can slow a child’s growth. If your child is prescribed Medrol, their healthcare provider may need to monitor their development regularly while they are taking this medication.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Medrol, you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next scheduled dose, you should skip the dose you missed. Do not take extra to make up for the missed dose. Doing so can increase your risk for side effects.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Medrol?

If you take too much methylprednisolone, you may begin to experience:

  • High blood pressure
  • Salt retention causing swelling in your arms, legs, or feet
  • Low potassium levels causing weakness, muscle cramps, or tiredness

What Happens If I Overdose on Medrol?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Medrol, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Medrol, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor checks your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to receive it. Blood or urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.

If you are using this medicine for a long time, tell your doctor about any extra stress or anxiety in your life, including other health concerns and emotional stress. Your dose of this medicine might need to be changed for a short time while you have extra stress.

Using too much of this medicine or using it for a long time may increase your risk of having adrenal gland problems. Talk to your doctor right away if you have more than one of these symptoms while you are using this medicine: blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, increased thirst or urination, irritability, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

This medicine may cause you to get more infections than usual. Avoid people who are sick or have infections and wash your hands often. If you are exposed to chickenpox or measles, tell your doctor right away. If you start to have a fever, chills, sore throat, or any other sign of an infection, call your doctor right away.

Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, eye pain, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

While you are being treated with methylprednisolone, do not have any immunizations (vaccines) without your doctor's approval. Methylprednisolone may lower your body's resistance and the vaccine may not work as well or you might get the infection the vaccine is meant to prevent. In addition, you should not be around other persons living in your household who receive live virus vaccines because there is a chance they could pass the virus on to you. Some examples of live vaccines include measles, mumps, influenza (nasal flu vaccine), poliovirus (oral form), rotavirus, and rubella. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.

This medicine may cause changes in mood or behavior for some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you have depression, mood swings, a false or unusual sense of well-being, trouble with sleeping, or personality changes while using this medicine.

This medicine might cause thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) or slow growth in children if used for a long time. Tell your doctor if you have any bone pain or if you have an increased risk for osteoporosis. If your child is using this medicine, tell the doctor if you think your child is not growing properly.

Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect the results of certain skin tests.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Medrol?

There are many reasons your healthcare provider may not choose Medrol as part of your treatment plan.

Allergy

A person should not take methylprednisolone if they are allergic to the ingredients. Allergic reactions may include symptoms such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face

Weakened Immune System

This medication can weaken your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have had any recent infections or have been around anyone with an infection.

Symptoms of an infection may include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Chills

Vaccine Warning

People taking this medication at the same time as receiving the smallpox vaccine are at an increased risk for serious side effects. There should be three months between your last dose of Medrol and when you receive the smallpox vaccine.

Pregnancy

There haven’t been enough studies to be sure how this drug may affect a pregnancy.

Medrol should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. It is best to talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant to decide the best option.

Breastfeeding

Medrol may pass into human milk. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding, as you may need to decide if you should stop taking Medrol or stop breastfeeding.

Other Health Conditions

In certain individuals, the body may handle Medrol differently. A person should inform their healthcare provider if they have:

What Other Medications Interact With Medrol?

Medrol can interact with several kinds of drugs or food. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications.

Moreover, you shouldn’t receive any live vaccines while taking Medrol. The vaccine won’t be fully effective.

When taken with Medrol, the following can increase the risk of side effects due to increased concentrations of methylprednisolone in the body:

  • Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)
  • Grapefruit juice

Medrol can also cause an increased risk of side effects from other medications such as:

The following medications may cause Medrol to be less effective:

  • Luminal Sodium, Solfoton, Tedral (phenobarbital)
  • Rifadin, Rimactane (rifampin)
  • Dilantin, Phenytek (phenytoin)

This list does not include all drugs that can interact with methylprednisolone. Before taking methylprednisolone, be sure to tell your doctor about all of the prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are taking. This will help you avoid potential interactions. If you have any questions about drug interactions, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

What Medications Are Similar?

Medrol is part of a class of medications known as glucocorticoids. 

Other commonly prescribed glucocorticoids include:

  • DexPak, Baycadron Elixir, Decadron (dexamethasone)
  • Rayos, Deltasone, Prednicot (prednisone)
  • Cortef, Alkindi Sprinkle (hydrocortisone)

Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is available as an oral tablet. It is often prescribed to treat inflammation, allergic reactions, adrenal insufficiency, and flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. The most common side effects include stomach upset, swelling, high blood glucose, and trouble falling asleep.

Dexamethasone is also available as an oral solution, eye drops, and ear drops.

Prednisone

Prednisone is available as an oral tablet. It helps reduce inflammation, irritation, or swelling, and treats many conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and dermatitis. Common side effects include restlessness, acne, nausea or vomiting, trouble sleeping, and weight gain.

Prednisone is also available as a liquid solution.

Hydrocortisone

Hydrocortisone is available as an oral tablet. It is often prescribed to treat adrenocortical deficiency, swelling, and inflammation, and is used to slow down your immune system. Common side effects include headaches, muscle weakness, and skin problems.

Hydrocortisone is also available as an injection and topical form.

This is a list of drugs from similar classes of medication as Medrol. It is not a list of drugs recommended to take with Medrol. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Medrol used for?

    Medrol is part of a class of medications known as glucocorticoids. It works by decreasing inflammation in the body. Medrol is often used to treat various disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.

  • What are the side effects of Medrol?

    The most common side effects are weight gain, nausea or vomiting, increased thirst, and headache. Methylprednisolone also has the potential for serious side effects such as an allergic reaction, changes in mood, low potassium levels, or diabetes.

  • How do I safely stop taking Medrol?

    Abruptly stopping Medrol may lead to side effects. You could also have flare-ups of your disease, or your pain and inflammation symptoms could recur. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider before you stop taking this medication.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Medrol?

Medrol is a safe and effective medication when used correctly.

While Medrol does have the potential for serious side effects such as allergic reactions, changes in mood, or dangerously low potassium levels, the most common side effects tend to be mild. Those might include headache, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, or increased thirst.

It is important to inform your healthcare provider of your other medical conditions and any prescription medications, OTC medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are taking. This way, your provider can make the best decision about what medication and dose are safe and will work best for you.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for education purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your doctor before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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4 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. U.S. National Library of Medicine, DailyMed. Methylprednisolone tablets. Updated August 2018.

  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine, DailyMed. Dexamethasone tablets. Updated May 2021.

  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine, DailyMed. Prednisone tablet. Updated December 2019.

  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine, DailyMed. Hydrocortisone tablets. Updated June 2020.