A steroid medication, methylprednisolone sodium succinate is a molecule that acts like a natural hormone in the body. Conditions it can treat include arthritis, severe allergies and inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract. The medication relieves symptoms of these diseases, but does not cure them.
Methylprednisolone sodium succinate is one form of artificial hormone, and it has the same biological effect as another medication called methylpredisolone. In its natural state, methylprednisolone sodium succinate is a white powder. It dissolves very well in water, so it is suitable for use as an injection. A patient may receive one injection or a doctor may infuse the drug into a vein slowly over about an hour.
In the body, methylprednisolone sodium succinate tends to have a calming effect on inflammation. It is designed to perform the same regulatory role as the naturally occurring hormone in the body. In some cases, such as with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system does not work correctly, and produces more inflammation than necessary. This extra inflammation can cause problems like pain and swelling.
When a doctor adds methylprednisolone sodium succinate to the body, as well as the hormones already present, the inflammation goes down, and the sufferer of the condition will often experience relief from the symptoms of the disease. Various medical conditions produce inflammatory symptoms, and so are amenable to treatment with methylprednisolone sodium succinate. Many of these are related to the immune system.
Examples include allergic conjunctivitis, autoimmune anemia and various forms of skin irritation. Inflammation of the colon, multiple sclerosis cases and lupus episodes may also respond well to the steroid. People with malfunctioning adrenal glands may also receive the drug as a replacement for the hormones those glands normally produce.
As methylprednisolone sodium succinate interferes with immune function, people taking the drug can suffer from an increased rate of infection. Patients on high doses may need to take special care to avoid sources of potentially serious infections like chickenpox. If a person takes the hormone for long periods, he or she may also develop eye problems like cataracts or glaucoma.
The most common side effects, however, are skin problems and changes in mental state. Skin issues may include abnormal bruising, a blush to the face and stronger hair growth. A patient may also experience headaches, and female patients may notice changes in menstruation or loss of menstruation altogether. Alterations in mental state are also possible, such as increased anxiousness, insomnia or depressed mood.