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What Is Methylprednisolone?

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  • Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
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Methylprednisolone is a steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory by preventing the body from releasing substances that contribute to swelling. The drug is often used to treat arthritis, lupus, bronchitis, and bronchial inflammation. It is available both in tablet form and as an intravenous medication.

Arthritis patients may experience decreased pain and increased range of motion when taking methylprednisolone because the drug works to reduce swelling in the affected joints. Lupus patients can benefit from the steroid in combination with other medications to lower the immune system's attacks on the patient's body. The medication can also help relieve swelling in the bronchial tubes that contributes to bronchitis.

Patients who have an existing fungal infection or fever should not take methylprednisolone due to the drug's potential to weaken the immune system. It is important for people who take the steroid to seek prompt medical attention for any illness or infection. Patients should refrain from receiving live vaccines while taking the medication, since the vaccine may not work as well.

Taking steroids exactly as directed by a doctor is extremely important, as these drugs can have serious side effects. Overdosing on the medication can lead to more severe side effects. Withdrawal symptoms are common in patients who suddenly stop taking steroids. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or carrying an identification card notifying potential rescue and healthcare workers that a patient is taking steroids can help them avoid giving treatments or drugs that could create a negative interaction.

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Some people are allergic to methylprednisolone. Patients should seek prompt medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing, facial swelling, hives, or a rash after taking the medication, since these are the most common signs of an allergic reaction. Patients should inform their doctors of all medical conditions and medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that they currently take.

Common side effects of methylprednisolone include acne, headache, increased sweating, nausea, dry skin, and minor mood changes. Most of these side effects are not serious. Side effects that are potentially dangerous include vision changes, low potassium, high blood pressure, severe anxiety or confusion, and bloody stools. These effects should be immediately evaluated by a doctor. Patients should disclose any side effects to their doctors, as they may worsen if the patient stays on the steroid for long periods.

Steroids are potentially dangerous for patients with diabetes, liver disease, glaucoma, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, depression, and kidney disease. The United States Food & Drug Administration rates methylprednisolone as pregnancy category C, which means it is unknown whether the medication could cause harm to an unborn baby. Patients who take aspirin, diuretics, blood thinners, seizure medications, and some diabetes medications may experience drug interactions while taking steroids, so it is important to discuss these medications with a health care professional.

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