Your body needs several supplements for its overall wellbeing. In this milieu, cortisol takes a very special place. It is a hormonal substance made by your adrenal gland. Cortisol helps with multiple functions such as effective handling of stresses, provision of needful immunity-based responses, streamlining your rate of metabolism, etc. Corticosteroids such as Medrol dose pack are man-made equivalents of naturally made cortisol. These drugs are used in the case management of a few autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, endocrine-related disorders, etc. In short, Medrol dose pack is an anti-inflammatory drug. But, does it trigger any adverse side effects?
Medrol dose pack is a corticosteroid drug. It helps in blocking substances responsible for internal swelling or inflammation. It is prescribed for a wide range of medical conditions such as lupus, arthritis, a few types of skin conditions (for example – psoriasis), several types of hormonal problems, etc. It is also used for the treatment of some blood related disorders, bone marrow conditions, respiratory problems, ulcers, episodes of multiple sclerosis and a few renal problems. Medrol dose pack regulates your immunity levels to bring relief from allergies, inflammation as well as persistent spells of itchiness.
This drug is consumed orally by consuming ample amounts of water. Your physician may advise you to take it along with a meal, preferably with your breakfast. Always remember that the standard dosage of this drug is once in every 24 hours. Also, you are advised not to stop taking the doses of Medrol dose pack all of a sudden. An abrupt discontinuation can often lead to acute allergies or adverse side effects. Check with your physician on how to discontinue your medication plan without triggering adverse side effects. In general, doses are reduced in a phased manner (i.e., in a tapered mode) to ensure minimal or nil discomforts and side effects.
Side effects of Medrol dose pack
This anti-inflammatory drug is known to trigger a few side effects. Minor discomforts include headaches, increase in body weight, sleeping problems (insomnia), indigestion, mood shifts, difficulties to pass stools (constipation), etc. A few other common side effects are bloating, flatulence, drowsiness or feeling dizzy, muscular pains, inflammation of limbs due to excessive accumulation of liquids, abdominal discomforts, cramping of muscles, etc. Most of these conditions will ease off in due course of time. However, if one or more of these adverse reactions persist for long, you are advised to talk to your treating physician and pharmacist immediately.
A few severe side effects triggered by Medrol dose pack are cramping of muscles, rapid heartbeats, spells of excessive sweating, traces of blood in stool, etc. Some people have reported signs of an increase in blood sugar levels; this condition shows up as persistent hunger, dehydration, frequent urges to urinate, or urinating more often than normal etc. A few users have noticed allergic reactions such as swelling or inflammation of tongue or lips, frequent spells of itchiness and rashes in skin. In very rare instances, some have noticed signs of likely infections; these include increase in body temperature, tremors, chills, troubles while discharging urine, soreness of throat, etc.
Upon sensing any of these severe side effects or allergies such as drop in potassium levels (characteristic signs of this condition are erratic heartbeat, persistent feeling of thirst, frequent visits to the toilet for urination, etc.), you are advised to report to your treating doctor immediately. Those living in the US are advised to call 911 as soon as possible or reach out to a local poison control center on an emergency mode. People living in Canada are advised to contact Health Canada without delay or get in touch with a poison control unit located closer to where you live.
Likely interactions with other drugs
This drug is known to interact with a few other medications. Never take Medrol dose pack with vaccine shots taken to prevent or control the spread of viral infections (such as flu vaccine, vaccines for shingles, inoculation shots for yellow fever, typhoid or rotavirus vaccines) or with drugs like aspirin, antibacterial drugs such as clarithromycin or erythromycin, a few types of diabetic drugs, diuretics or water pills, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen or ibuprofen, medicines taken to treat convulsions, epileptic fits or muscular disorders (examples: phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, etc.) and meds like digoxin. This drug must not be taken with blood thinning drugs like Coumadin – warfarin or heparin.
Prior medical conditions and risks of taking Medrol dose pack
You need to tell your doctor if you are already experiencing any viral infections. Special precautions need to be taken by sharing needful details about infections such as chickenpox, measles or other such infectious conditions. On a related note, ensure to report instances wherein skin conditions such as blisters, rashes or sores do not go away despite application of topical medications; these skin conditions may be an outcome of serious infections caused by microbes.
Living with diabetes, eye defects and a few other medical conditions
Those who are living with diabetes or if you are taking diabetic meds, you need to inform your medical team about such conditions. These precautions are extremely important as Medrol dose pack is likely to enhance your blood sugar level. Hence, it may lead to a few counterproductive outcomes if co-administered with diabetic drugs such as insulin. Also, if you are currently having ocular / eye-related problems such as blurring of eyesight or corneal defects, the treating doctor needs to know about these eye problems. As Medrol dose pack may alter your eyesight, prior information of ocular dysfunction – if any, will help take needful safety precautions.
Likely loss of bone density
Women in the post-menopause stage are more vulnerable to loss of bones or may undergo a likely decrease in bone-mass. As a long-term or continuous use of Medrol dose pack can lead to loss of bone-mass, details about prior bone health problems are essential for your medical team. The dosages are altered to a safer level or needful substitutes are prescribed to minimise loss of bone-mass. Apart from these medical conditions, you need to tell your physician if you have medical conditions such as hepatic disorders (hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver), mood shifts including psychosis, schizophrenia or depression, cardiac conditions such as erratic heartbeats or palpitations, Cushing’s syndrome, etc.
In general, you need to stay cautious of any infections – especially, fungal or yeast infections. Always remember that Medrol dose pack works by lowering your immunity levels. So, if you are noticing signs of an infection, intake of Medrol dose pack may aggravate your condition. For these reasons, it is recommended to carry a tag or an alert card which states that you are taking drugs such as Medrol dose pack. Such an alert will help caregivers stay cautious of the treatments offered to you – especially, in terms of emergencies and as part of first-aid care.
Women with thyroid disorders, pregnant women and breastfeeding women
Women who have an overactive thyroid gland need to stay away from taking this drug. If you have had a medical history of a thyroid condition, you need to inform your doctor about the nature of the condition. Women who are aiming to become pregnant or who are already pregnant also need to be extremely cautious about taking this drug. There is not much scientific evidence about the intake of Medrol dose pack and its likely impact on the fetus. However, it is hence highly recommended to talk to your treating doctor before administering Medrol dose pack onto pregnant women.
Similarly, no major scientific assessments or clinical studies are available to prove the safety of this drug if administered onto breastfeeding women. Hence, it is not clear if active ingredients of this drug are likely to pass through mother’s milk. Also, not much data exist to establish the safety of this drug on babies consuming mother’s milk with traces of this drug. It is hence a good practice to inform your treating physician if you are nursing a baby; needful information about dosages, frequency and other details of the medication or treatment plan are to be shared prior to starting doses of Medrol dose pack.
Surgeries and dental procedures
You are advised to inform your surgeon about the intake of this drug well ahead of the date of your surgery. It is quite likely that your surgeon may recommend stopping to take doses of Medrol dose pack at least 2 weeks prior to the date of surgical intervention. The same precaution applies for dental interventions such as excision of a tooth, etc. Here again, your dentist may tell you to stop the intake of this drug a few days before your dental procedure or intervention.
Likely risks of an overdose of Medrol dose pack
An overdose of Medrol dose pack is likely to occur when people forget to take a dose, and take a double dose to make up for the missed dosage. This is not a good practice. So, when you have missed a dosage, the best thing to do is to skip it. You are advised to wait for the next dose and continue normal dosing. In general, an overdose of Medrol dose pack is unlikely to result in severely adverse or near-fatal outcomes. But, in case of a long term use of this drug, you may witness a few adverse signs such as skin problems (acne), drop in libido or male impotence, thinning down of the skin, accumulation of fats on your facial parts or on your thoracic parts such as waist, back, etc.
It is important to remember that the abovementioned side effects and discomforts do not represent a complete list. Hence, it is possible to witness unlisted or new side effects; especially when you are taking Medrol dose pack for fairly longer periods of time. If you experience such newer side effects, it is important to consult your pharmacist or your treating doctor without delay. In case such new side effects are acute, you need to call the emergency helpline numbers of the food and drug administration (FDA) in the US.
In sum, Medrol dose pack is a manmade steroid which helps to block agents responsible for inflammation. It is used in a variety of conditions, including psoriasis, lupus, arthritis, hormonal conditions, etc. It works by regulating the immunity level and helps manage allergic conditions such as itchiness, inflammation, etc. A few common side effects of Medrol dose pack are insomnia, constipation, headaches, increase in bodyweight, flatulence, dizziness, cramping of muscles, etc. Most of these adverse side effects may disappear once your body gets used to this drug as well as its active ingredients. It is highly recommended to consult your treating physician or pharmacist immediately, if these side effects do not go away or if they turn into relatively more acute conditions.