Methylprednisolone

Sounds like 'METH-il-pred-NIS-oh-lone'

Easy-to-read medicine information about methylprednisolone – what it is, how to use methylprednisolone safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicineAlso called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids
  • Medrol®
  • Solu-Medrol®
  • Depo-Medrol

What is methylprednisolone?

  • Methylprednisolone is a medicine used to treat many conditions associated with inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (for example, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), autoimmune diseases (for example, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis), joint and muscle diseases (for example, rheumatoid arthritis).
  • It is also used to treat severe allergic reactions or acute transplant rejection.
  • It is in a class of medicines known as corticosteroids, which is similar to the steroid hormones your body naturally makes. Methylprednisolone works by calming the immune system.
  • Methylprednisolone is available as tablets (to be taken by mouth) or as an injection that can be given into the vein or muscle.

Dose

  • The dose of methylprednisolone will be different for different people.
  • Always take your methylprednisolone exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much methylprednisolone to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take methylprednisolone

  • Take your methylprednisolone dose with food or after food.
  • Swallow your tablets with a glass of water.
  • Methylprednisolone is best taken in the morning.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol while you are taking methylprednisolone – it can cause stomach problems.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Do not stop taking this medicine suddenly unless told to by your doctor.
  • Often you will be given a tapering dose meaning you take a lower dose every few days or weeks, until the medication is stopped.

Special instructions

  • It is important to tell any health professional taking care of you that you are taking methylprednisolone.
  • Taking methylprednisolone for a long time can increase your risk of all types of infections. Tell your doctor if you come into contact with someone who has a contagious illness such as chickenpox or measles, or feel unwell.  
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Due to the lowering of the immune system, vaccination (immunisations) with 'live vaccines' should be postponed until at least 3 months after methylprednisolone has been stopped.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, methylprednisolone can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effectsWhat should I do?
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Take methylprednisolone in the morning or at least 3 hours before bedtime
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness, feeling tired
  • These are quite common when you first start taking methylprednisolone and usually go away with time
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Changes in mood or behaviour
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bad dreams


  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine0800 611 116
  • Problems with your stomach such as stomach pain, blood in your stool, or dark coloured stool
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Interactions

  • Methylprednisolone interacts with a number of important medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Methylprednisolone also affects many vaccinations.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on methylprednisolone. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

Methylprednisolone tablets Patient Info, UK 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Last reviewed: 28 Mar 2016