What is methylprednisolone?
Methylprednisolone is a glucocorticoid drug or steroid hormone commonly recommended as an anti-inflammatory drug for the treatment of severe allergic reactions, lupus, ulcerative colitis, skin conditions, and arthritis but at the same time causes methylprednisolone side effects. It is most commonly prescribed under the names Medrol®, Solu-medrol® and Cadista®.
What are methylprednisolone side effects?
Side effects of methylprednisolone include osteoporosis, eye problems, muscle loss and weakness, peptic ulcers, loss of nutrients, fluid retention, headaches, dizziness, and endocrine disruption.
Osteoporosis, or bone loss, is the most common side effect of methylprednisolone. This occurs for several reasons, including suppression of cells involved in bone formation, decreased calcium absorption, and increased urinary calcium loss. Methylprednisolone is usually preceded by baseline bone density scans, annual bone density reviews, and calcium supplements.
Another side effect of methylprednisolone is eye problem. Eye problems associated with methylprednisolone use are cataracts, exophthalmos, and glaucoma. These side effects are most common in people with a family history of these visual impairments. It is generally recommended to have an eye exam prior to starting methylprednisolone and to have an eye exam regularly while taking the medication. If vision problems are observed, treatment may be stopped or reduced to reduce further damage.
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Muscle loss and weakness
Methylprednisolone side effects can also affect the muscular system, causing muscle weakness or muscle loss. Myopathy can be caused by impaired protein synthesis, which is important for muscle recovery and maintenance. There is a positive correlation between the degree of weakness and loss, as well as the dose of methylprednisolone and the duration of use: the higher the dose or the longer the use, the higher the risk and severity of muscle loss.
Peptic ulcers, defects or weakness in the lining of the stomach or intestines, are a side effect of methylprednisolone in the gastrointestinal tract. It reduces the production of protective mucus that lines the intestines and stomach and allows acidic stomach juices to wear out the holes in the intestines or stomach. Peptic ulcers are defined by a burning sensation in the middle of the abdomen a few hours after eating.
Loss of nutrients and fluid retention
Loss of nutrients and fluid retention methylprednisolone side effects lead to conditions such as hypokalemia, alkalosis, and heart failure. Hypokalemia is a potassium deficiency. Alkalosis occurs when the pH of body fluids becomes excessively basic due to the kidney’s response to potassium deficiency. When both hypokalemia and alkalosis are left untreated, electrolyte imbalances in the body can lead to heart failure, but this is a rare side effect.
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Increase in intracranial pressure
Methylprednisolone can also cause an increase in intracranial pressure. This increased pressure sometimes damages the optic nerve and creates empty areas in the patient’s vision. Increased intracranial pressure can also cause headaches and dizziness.
There are also several endocrine side effects associated with methylprednisolone use. The addition of a steroid hormone to the body can cause Cushing’s syndrome, which is characterized by an obese upper body, thin legs and arms, and a round, full face. It can also lead to stunted growth in children and menstrual changes in women.
Methylprednisolone side effects are varied, but medications can be helpful in treating serious medical conditions. Healthcare physicians and patients often carefully establish use procedures that will reduce risks and maximize benefits. A prescribed course, routine check-ups and preventive measures to prevent known side effects can make methylprednisolone use viable for many patients.