How Fast Does Medrol Dose Pack Work?
Written By Kobi Nathan, Pharm.D., M.Ed., CDP, BCGP, AGSF
Sleep Disorders
July 21, 2023

How fast does Medrol dose pack work?

Almost 90% of the Medrol dose pack (methylprednisolone) is absorbed quickly, and peak concentration is reached within 2 hours of ingestion.

For acute dermatitis due to poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the Medrol dose pack works within 12 to 24 hours.

For other conditions, it may take up to 4 days to experience relief.

Overview of Medrol Dose Pack

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into this topic, discussing not only how quickly the Medrol dose pack works but also other equally important aspects.

We’ll explore the duration of potential side effects, how long it takes for methylprednisolone, the active drug in Medrol, to work for various conditions, and how long the effects last after discontinuing the medication.

Additionally, we’ll cover how often you can safely take a Medrol dose pack, what exactly it is, and what conditions the 4mg dose is typically used for.

Let’s dive in…

What is a Medrol dose pack?

A Medrol dose pack is a short, 6-day course of an oral corticosteroid medication called methylprednisolone.

Prednisone, another common steroid, also belongs to this medication class.

Your doctor will prescribe it if you have an allergic reaction, inflammation, flare-ups of current illnesses, or other conditions (see the detailed list of indications below).

Each pack has 21 tablets, with each tablet’s dose being 4 mg.

It starts with the highest dose, also called a steroid “burst,” on the first day.

The dose is gradually decreased daily by 4 mg (one less tablet) until the 6th day when only one 4 mg dose remains.

The goal of this dosing regimen is to hit your inflammation with a powerful, high dose to address the problem head-on.

Then, instead of stopping the treatment with just one dose, a gradual tapering of the medication is done to ensure enough medication is still in your system to avoid a flareup or recurrence of your medical problem.

Methylprednisolone 4mg dose pack (21 tablets) instructions

According to the Medrol dose pack instructions, you should take the medications as follows:

Day 1:

  • Two tablets before breakfast (8 mg).
  • One tablet after lunch (4 mg).
  • One tablet after dinner (4 mg).
  • Two tablets at bedtime (8 mg).

Day 2:

  • One tablet before breakfast (4 mg).
  • One tablet after lunch (4 mg).
  • One tablet after dinner (4 mg).
  • Two tablets at bedtime (8 mg).

Day 3:

  • One tablet before breakfast (4 mg).
  • One tablet after lunch (4 mg).
  • One tablet after dinner (4 mg).
  • One tablet at bedtime (4 mg).

Day 4:

  • One tablet before breakfast (4 mg).
  • One tablet after lunch (4 mg).
  • One tablet at bedtime (4 mg).

Day 5:

  • One tablet before breakfast (4 mg).
  • One tablet at bedtime (4 mg).

Day 6:

  • One tablet before breakfast (4 mg).

See the graphic below for a visual representation of the Medrol Dosepak instruction (suggested) from Day 1 through Day 6:

It is important to note that the dosing regimen stated above is merely a dosing recommendation from the drug manufacturer.

Your doctor may alter the dosing schedule to fit the type and severity of your medical problem.

That said, you should take this medication every day, although the actual number of tablets taken each day may differ (Again, your doctor will instruct you on how to take it).

This informative video explains how you should take your Medrol DosePak:


What is methylprednisolone used for?

Per the Medrol Dosepak package insert, this medication is used to treat many conditions (not an exhaustive list):

Endocrine Disorders

  • Primary or secondary adrenocortical insufficiency.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
  • Nonsuppurative thyroiditis.
  • Hypercalcemia associated with cancer.

Rheumatic Disorders

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Acute and subacute bursitis.
  • Synovitis of osteoarthritis.
  • Acute nonspecific tenosynovitis.
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
  • Psoriatic arthritis.
  • Epicondylitis.
  • Acute gouty arthritis.

Collagen Diseases

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Systemic dermatomyositis (polymyositis).
  • Acute rheumatic carditis.

Dermatologic Diseases

  • Bullous dermatitis herpetiformis.
  • Severe erythema multiforme.
  • (Stevens-Johnson syndrome).
  • Severe seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Exfoliative dermatitis.
  • Mycosis fungoides.
  • Pemphigus.
  • Severe psoriasis.

Allergic States

  • Seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis.
  • Drug hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Serum sickness.
  • Contact dermatitis.
  • Bronchial asthma.
  • Atopic dermatitis.

Ophthalmic Diseases

  • Allergic corneal marginal ulcers.
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus.
  • Anterior segment inflammation.
  • Diffuse posterior uveitis and choroiditis.
  • Sympathetic ophthalmia.
  • Keratitis.
  • Optic neuritis.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Chorioretinitis.
  • Iritis and iridocyclitis.

Respiratory Diseases

  • Symptomatic sarcoidosis.
  • Berylliosis.
  • Loeffler’s syndrome not manageable by other means.
  • Aspiration pneumonitis

Hematologic Disorders

  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in adults.
  • Secondary thrombocytopenia in adults.
  • Acquired (autoimmune) hemolytic anemia.
  • Erythroblastopenia (RBC anemia).
  • Congenital (erythroid) hypoplastic anemia.

Neoplastic Diseases

  • Leukemias and lymphomas in adults.
  • Acute leukemia of childhood.

Gastrointestinal Diseases

To tide the patient over a critical period of the disease in:

  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Regional enteritis.

Nervous System

  • Acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis

It’s important to remember that while the effects of methylprednisolone can be felt relatively quickly, this doesn’t mean that the underlying condition is completely resolved.

The Medrol Dose Pack is designed to manage symptoms and reduce inflammation, not to cure the underlying disease.

Additionally, if you’ve been taking methylprednisolone for a long time, you shouldn’t abruptly stop without consulting your doctor.

This is because your body may need time to adjust to the absence of the drug due to suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

How long does it take for methylprednisolone to work for bronchitis?

Generally, you might start seeing an improvement in your symptoms within 24 to 48 hours, but remember, how long it takes for the medication to work can vary from person to person.

You may be given oral or intravenous methylprednisolone, depending on the severity of your condition.

How long does it take for methylprednisolone to work for Asthma or COPD?

If you have asthma, methylprednisolone can reduce airway inflammation, making it easier to breathe.

For those with COPD, it can decrease the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

This study published in The Lancet showed that methylprednisolone improved lung function in patients within 5 days of taking the medication.

Adverse effects of methylprednisolone dose pack

As with any medication, adverse effects may occur when taking methylprednisolone.

So, always seek medical advice about side effects related to this medication.

Common side effects of methylprednisolone

  • Heartburn.
  • Headache.
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping).
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Sweating.
  • Acne.
  • Nausea/Vomiting.
  • Increase in blood sugar (Diabetics, be vigilant – talk to your doctor about managing your blood sugar levels).

Serious side effects of methylprednisolone

  • Unusual weight gain.
  • Pain in bone or joints.
  • Muscle weakness or pain.
  • Bruising easily.
  • Problems with your vision.
  • Changes in your heartbeat (slow, irregular).
  • Swelling in your ankles or feet.
  • Stool that looks dark/tarry.
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Skin becomes thin.
  • Mood or mental changes (agitation, mood swings, depression).

Serious allergic reactions of methylprednisolone

While rare, the following allergic reactions may happen:

  • Rash.
  • Itching.
  • Trouble breathing/Wheezing.
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat.

If you experience any of the above adverse effects, call your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice immediately!

You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

How long do side effects of medrol dose pack last?

Feeling worried about the side effects of your Medrol dose pack?

They typically last only a few days to a week after you’ve stopped taking the drug.

How long does Medrol dose pack stay in your system?

After taking a methylprednisolone tablet from the Medrol Dosepak, your system will clear it after about 13 to 20 hours.

You want to maintain a consistent level of medication in your body, so it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions and complete your full course as directed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Medrol dose pack be used for other conditions not listed in the article?

Yes, a Medrol dose pack can potentially be used for conditions not specifically listed in this article.

However, always consult your healthcare provider before using it for off-label conditions to ensure safe usage.

Are there any dietary restrictions or guidelines while taking a Medrol dose pack?

While on a Medrol dose pack, there aren’t specific dietary restrictions.

However, it’s best to maintain a balanced diet. High salt intake could increase side effects, so try to limit it.

Always discuss diet with your doctor.

What are the potential interactions of Medrol dose pack with other medications?

Medrol dose pack can interact with several medications, including insulin, warfarin, and live vaccines.

These interactions may affect how the medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects.

Always consult your doctor before use.

Are there any specific storage instructions for Medrol dose pack?

You should store your Medrol Dose Pack at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.

It’s important not to store it in a bathroom, which can be humid. Always keep it out of children’s reach.

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