Drugs Q & A

How Long Does Medrol DosePak Keep Working?

Medrol Dosepak is a brand of methylprednisolone, a corticosteroid, similar to a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It is often used to replace this chemical when your body does not make enough of it. It relieves inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain) and is used to treat certain forms of arthritis; skin, blood, kidney, eye, thyroid, and intestinal disorders (e.g., colitis); severe allergies; and asthma. Methylprednisolone is also used to treat certain types of cancer.

Methylprednisolone is stronger than prednisone. While prednisone is four times as potent as cortisol, methylprednisolone is five times as potent as cortisol.

How should Medrol be used?

Medrol Dosepak comes as a tablet to take by mouth. Your doctor will prescribe a dosing schedule that is best for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take Medrol exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

The typical dosage of Medrol can range from 4 mg to 48 mg by mouth per day. This depends on your condition and how bad it is. Your provider will raise or lower your dose based on how you respond and if you have any side effects.

Do not stop taking Medrol without talking to your doctor. Stopping the drug abruptly can cause loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, headache, fever, joint and muscle pain, peeling skin, and weight loss. If you take large doses for a long time, your doctor probably will decrease your dose gradually to allow your body to adjust before stopping the drug completely. Watch for these side effects if you are gradually decreasing your dose and after you stop taking the tablets. If these problems occur, call your doctor immediately. You may need to increase your dose of tablets temporarily or start taking them again. Methylprednisolone also comes in a solution that can be injected into a muscle or vein.

How Long Does Medrol DosePak Keep Working?

Medrol Dosepak starts working quickly, its peak effect is about two hours when given orally. After taking a dose of a Medrol Dosepak the effects can last for up to 20 hours. The effects of methylprednisolone, when given directly into a joint, last for one to five weeks.

Methylprednisolone has an elimination half-life of approximately 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours. This means that Methylprednisolone will clear out of a person’s system within 1 day (approximately 16 hours) after the last dose but the elimination may vary based on multiple factors. Excretion of the administered dose is nearly complete within 12 hours.

What happens if I stop taking the Medrol Dosepak suddenly?

If you have been taking Medrol Dosepak for more than a week, your provider will give you a schedule on how to lower (or taper) the dose of the medication down. If you stop suddenly, you can make your adrenal glands stop working. Your adrenal glands are responsible for making your body’s natural hormones. If you are unsure when or how to stop the medication, it’s important to speak with your pharmacist or provider.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Medrol Dosepak?

No, it’s usually not recommended to drink alcohol while taking this medication. Drinking alcohol can give you stomach problems or pain.

Do I need to take Medrol Dosepak with food?

Yes, corticosteroids can be rough on the stomach, so it’s important to take the medication with food.

Does Medrol Dosepak cause weight gain?

Medrol Dosepak can cause weight gain. However, it’s more likely to happen with higher doses and if you use the medication for a long time. Some ways to help lessen the weight gain are to eat less refined sugar and get a good amount of sleep and exercise.

What should I avoid while taking Medrol Dosepak?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chickenpox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medication.

Do not receive a “live” vaccine while using Medrol Dosepak. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

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