Dexamethasone (oral)

Physician prescribed Dexamethasone is corticosteroid medication used to treat many different health conditions including allergies, asthma, arthritis, kidney issues and more.

Overview

What is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a drug similar to cortisone in that it directly affects the immune system to relieve allergic reactions and symptoms such as redness, swelling and itching. Available in a solution, a tablet or an elixir formulation, Dexamethasone is classified as a corticosteroid and is sold under the following trade names:

  • Decadron
  • Dexamethasone Intensol
  • Zema-Pak
  • Baycadron Elixer
  • Depak 13 Day Taperpak
  • DexPak, 10 Day TaperPak and Junior

Patients who suffer from various skin diseases, asthma, rheumatic problems, COPD, tuberculosis or other allergy related conditions all benefit from treatment with Dexamethasone.

How does Dexamethasone work?

As a corticosteroid, Dexamethasone is a man-made edition of hormones produced naturally in the body's adrenal glands. Simply referred to as steroids for the most part, they operate differently than those abused by some body builders.

If the adrenal glands don't produce enough of the steroid hormones to provide a normal level, replacement therapy with Dexamethasone works to help the body get back to normal function. Providing this level of normalcy to patients with a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, in which the body has too many male hormones, is just one of the uses of Dexamethasone.

Corticosteroid hormones also affect the body's inflammation response to different immunity and allergy reactions. As this covers a wide range of diseases and conditions, Dexamethasone can be used on anything from asthma to cancer to rheumatic problems.

Conditions Treated

Type Of Medicine

  • Corticosteroid

Side Effects

Medical attention may be urgently required if you have allergies to this drug or have unwanted effects that are severe or prolonged. Contact your physician if you exhibit the side effects listed below:

  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Blurry vision
  • Anxiousness
  • Urination is less frequent or less amount
  • Dizzy
  • Irregular heart rhythm, slow, pounding or fast
  • Irritable
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Nervous
  • Moody
  • Loud breathing, rasping or wheezing
  • Tingly, numb legs or arms
  • Ears pound
  • Breathing is difficult
  • Swollen feet, lower legs, hands or fingers
  • Difficulty walking, thinking or speaking
  • Gaining weight
  • Stomach pain or burning, cramps
  • Stools appear black or tar-like
  • Backache
  • Hoarse voice, coughing
  • Skin is darker than normal
  • Height decreases
  • Vision is impaired
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth is dry
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Pain in eyes, with or without tears
  • Increase of facial hair in females
  • Chills, fever
  • Dry skin that appears red and flushed
  • Fractures
  • Breath smells of fruit
  • Truck, face or neck is fuller
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Hungry and thirsty
  • More urine than normal
  • No appetite
  • No sexual ability or desire
  • Pain in side or lower back
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Painful or tender, sore muscles
  • Weak muscles
  • Nauseated for no reason
  • Arms, ribs, back or legs are painful
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Rashes on skin
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Wounds or bruises do not heal
  • Loss of weight that is unexplained
  • Vision is altered
  • Vomiting

There are side effects that are no cause for concern or medical advisement that typically pass after you r system gets used to the drug. Your doctor may be able to assist you with easing these symptoms or preventing them completely. Check with your doctor if you suffer from the effects listed below:

  • Ravenous appetite
  • Dry scalp
  • Fat deposits appearing on the trunk, face or neck
  • Acne
  • Lightening of the normal color of your skin
  • Flushed appearance
  • Lines on the trunk, groin, legs, face or arms that appear purple or red
  • Swollen abdominal area
  • Hair loss on scalp

While being treated with Dexamethasone, you should always report any unusual effects to your medical team as a precaution in case they are signs of underlying medical issues that could have long term implications on your health.

Dosage

Follow your doctor's prescription to the letter; do not increase the amount of Dexamethason you are supposed to take either in quantity or frequency. This increases your risks of developing side effects that are unpleasant or dangerous. Do not stop taking Dexamethasone suddenly without permission from your medical professional, as you may need to decrease in steps to safely end the treatment.

Your prescription of Dexamethasone may come with a special spoon or cup to measure your dose, which should be used for accuracy instead of any household items such as teaspoons. Concentrated forms of Dexamethasone such as the Intensol brand is administered with a dropper making it easy to add to any liquid or soft foods. Be sure to stir after adding the drops and consume the food or drink immediately.

Different conditions will warrant different doses of Dexamethasone, as will patient condition, age and body type. Your prescription dose will be written especially for you and should be followed exactly. The following information represents average doses recommended by the manufacturer; yours may differ.

Tablet and solution forms of Dexamethasone for adults are typically given in 9 milligram per day doses to start, adjusted as required. Children receive a dose based on their body statistics but typically start with a 0.2 to .3 milligram per kilogram of weight per day, spread over three to four doses in the course of 24 hours as required.

Missing a dose of Dexamethasone should not cause you to double up on the dosage for any reason. Skip the missing dose if it is close to when you would take your next dose by the time you remember. When in doubt, contact your physician's office for advisement if you have altered your dosing schedule.

Interactions

Dexamethasone may be part of a combination drug regimen, working together with other drugs to improve your symptoms and promote healing. This drug may, however, react badly with medications not specifically prescribed with it and, in fact, create a dangerous health situation in some cases. It is recommended that you communicate all of your current medications to your health care provider and include over-the-counter, vitamin, herbal and holistic remedies as well.

The drugs below have been known to interact with Dexamethasone in a dangerous or counterproductive way. Warn your physician if you are currently taking:

  • Praziquantel
  • Rotavirus live vaccine
  • Rilpivirine
  • Artemether

The following medications are not recommended as part of a drug therapy treatment that includes Dexamethasone. It may, however, be required for your particular condition. Your physician may determine that these prescriptions should be altered for safety reasons if you are on the following drugs:

  • Aceclofenac
  • Aldesleukin
  • Acemetacin
  • Bemiparin
  • Amtolmetin Guacil
  • Bosutinib
  • Boceprevir
  • Bufexamac
  • Bromfenac
  • Celecoxib
  • Bupropion
  • Choline Salicylate
  • Ceritinib
  • Clonixin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Cobicistat
  • Clozapine
  • Daclatasvir
  • Conivaptan
  • Dexibuprofen
  • Dasatinib
  • Diclofenac
  • Dexketoprofen
  • Dipyrone
  • Diflunisal
  • Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
  • Doxorubicin
  • Efavirenz
  • Droxicam
  • Enzalutamide
  • Elvitegravir
  • Etofenamate
  • Etodolac
  • Etravirine
  • Etoricoxib
  • Fenoprofen
  • Felbinac
  • Fepradinol
  • Fentanyl
  • Floctafenine
  • Feprazone
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Flufenamic Acid
  • Ibuprofen
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Indomethacin
  • Idelalisib
  • Ketoprofen
  • Ixabepilone
  • Lapatinib
  • Ketorolac
  • Loxoprofen
  • Lornoxicam
  • Meclofenamate
  • Lumiracoxib
  • Meloxicam
  • Mefenamic Acid
  • Nabumetone
  • Morniflumate
  • Naproxen
  • Nadroparin
  • Nevirapine
  • Nepafenac
  • Niflumic Acid
  • Nifedipine
  • Nimesulide
  • Nilotinib
  • Nimodipine
  • Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
  • Oxaprozin
  • Olaparib
  • Parecoxib
  • Oxyphenbutazone
  • Piketoprofen
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Piroxicam
  • Piperaquine
  • Proglumetacin
  • Pixantrone
  • Proquazone
  • Pranoprofen
  • Rofecoxib
  • Propyphenazone
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Ritonavir
  • Saquinavir
  • Salsalate
  • Romidepsin
  • Sulindac
  • Sodium Salicylate
  • Tacrolimus
  • Sunitinib
  • Tenoxicam
  • Telaprevir
  • Tiaprofenic Acid
  • Thalidomide
  • Tolfenamic Acid
  • Ticagrelor
  • Valdecoxib
  • Vortioxetine
  • Vincristine Sulfate Liposome
  • Tolmetin

Side effect risk may be elevated if the following medications are taken in conjunction with Dexamethasone, but the combination may be necessary for your treatment. Notify your physician so that the best form of treatment can be determined for you if you are taking;

  • Alcuronium
  • Aprepitant
  • Aminoglutethimide
  • Atracurium
  • Aspirin
  • Besifloxacin
  • Balofloxacin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Caspofungin
  • Fleroxacin
  • Enoxacin
  • Flumequine
  • Fluindione
  • Fosphenytoin
  • Fosaprepitant
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Gallamine
  • Hexafluorenium
  • Gemifloxacin
  • Licorice
  • Levofloxacin
  • Metocurine
  • Lomefloxacin
  • Nadifloxacin
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Norfloxacin
  • Netupitant
  • Ospemifene
  • Ofloxacin
  • Pazufloxacin
  • Pancuronium
  • Phenobarbital
  • Pefloxacin
  • Prulifloxacin
  • Phenytoin
  • Rifapentine
  • Rifampin
  • Saiboku-To
  • Rufloxacin
  • Tosufloxacin
  • Warfarin
  • Vecuronium
  • Sparfloxacin

Dexamethasone use may conflict with the use of tobacco products, alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, so discuss the use of these products with your health care provider. Taking Dexamethasone with food or without food is best decided between you and your physician and may be determined by your prescription recommendation information.

Medical problems such as those that are listed below may be worsened or may alter the effectiveness of Dexamethasone. Disclose your full health history to your doctor prior to taking Dexamethasone to determine if it is the right course of treatment for you. Specifically, notify your doctor if you have:

Warnings

Patients who have already demonstrated allergy related symptoms to other medications, animals, foods, or additives such as dyes and preservatives may be pre-disposed to having issues with Dexamethasone as well. Any unwanted effects should be reported to your physician in case of an allergy to this drug.

Pediatric patients have not been the subject of any particular study that has provided data that point to an increased risk or limited usefulness in this age group. Children, however, have demonstrated to have slower growth rates as well as issues with bone development with long term use of Dexamethasone. Dosage duration should be followed exactly as prescribed and the child should have regular medical tests in case of development of any issues with growth.

Geriatric patients have not been studied for a higher risk rate with treatment of Dexamethasone and can expect the same type of dosage and effects as adult patients. However, age-related heart, kidney or liver diseases may require an adjustment to the way this medication is prescribed to be less of a risk for worsening these conditions.

With regard to use in women who are pregnant, Dexamethasone is indicated for use in women who may deliver prematurely, to encourage the fetus' lung development into a greater state of maturity. The drug has, however, been linked to low weight at birth. As other risks to fetal development exist, discussing use of Dexamethasone with your physician is recommended before beginning treatment.

Breastfeeding women have not been studied for data to determine if they put their infants at risk by passing Dexamethasone via their breast milk. Discuss breastfeeding with your physician before continuing to do so while taking this drug.

Long term use of Dexamethasone requires regular visits to your physician to examine you for any effects of this medication that are not desired and may become threatening to your health. Communicate to your physician if there is any anxiety, stress or other health issues weighing on your mind, as your dose may need to be altered to accommodate extra stress on your system.

Dexamethasone can affect the function of your adrenal gland if taken for a long duration. Symptoms that include being dizzy or fainting, pounding heart rhythm that is faster than normal, blurry vision, being thirsty, urinating frequently, being irritable or unusually fatigued or weak could be signs of problems with your adrenal gland. Seek assistance from your health care provider if you exhibit these symptoms.

Vaccinations with live disease cultures during your treatment with Dexamethasone are not recommended without first seeking approval from your physician. Your body's immune function is compromised during treatment with this drug, making you more prone to infections. Along this same line, you should avoid being around people who have infections such as colds and those who have had live virus vaccinations such as rotavirus, mumps, influenza or rubella. Stay away from these people completely or at least avoid being in the same room with them for long periods of time.

If you experience vision problems such as blurred, altered vision or difficulty when reading, you may want to schedule an examination for your own safety with a specialist eye doctor or ophthalmologist.

Osteoporosis risk may be increased with use of Dexamethasone over a long duration. If you start experiencing any bone pain or if you already have risk factors for thin bones, communicate these to your health care provider. If your child is on a drug treatment regimen with Dexamethasone and you notice that their growth rate has slowed, contact your health care provider immediately.

Dexamethasone has been known to alter behavior and moods in some patients. Symptoms of depression, paranoia, insomnia or other personality changes while you are being treated with this medication should be communicated to your physician right away.

Health care providers that you see during your treatment with Dexamethasone should be made aware that you are on a prescription of this drug. This includes any dental care professionals or other physicians.

Storage

Store Dexamethasone in the original container at room temperature and avoid exposure to light sources, heat or moisture. Keep this medication out of sight and reach of children and pets. Do not allow Dexamethasone to freeze.

Disposal of unused or expired Dexamethasone should be performed under the safety instructions provided to you by your physician or pharmacist. The Intensol concentrated solution version of this drug should be used or disposed of safely within 90 days of opening the container.

Summary

Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid drug, is useful in treating many different conditions due to the effect it has on the immune system. Corticosteroid drugs mimic the body's own hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands and work to regulate the body's inflammatory response. Diseases such as arthritis and asthma as well as kidney and skin conditions respond well to treatment with Dexamethasone.

Available in a solution, tablet or elixir, Dexamethasone prescriptions vary depending on the patient's vital statistics and the disease being treated. Always follow the information provided to you with your prescription and your doctor's own instructions to you with regard to amount, frequency and duration of your dose of this medication. Do not double up on your doses should you forget to take one; it is preferable to skip a dose than have too much in your system.

Dexamethasone has been known to react with many prescription medications, so safety dictates full disclosure of any prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs or herbal and vitamin supplements prior to taking this drug. Alert your health care provider to all substances that you are taking as well as to your medical history to avoid any chance of health risks. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant while taking this drug.

Dangerous medical conditions have been known to arise after long term use of Dexamethasone. Be alert for signs of adrenal gland issues such as blurry vision, being dizzy, rapid heart rate, fatigue or weakness and seek medical attention immediately if you show these signs. Avoid exposure to live viruses through vaccinations for yourself or anyone you are around regularly. Eye tests, urine samples as well as blood examinations may be required during your course of treatment with this drug. Children should be monitored for slowness of growth if they are taking Dexamethasone for a long period of time.

Store Dexamethasone at room temperature, away from children and pets, avoid extremes of heat or cold as well as light and moisture. Dispose of any unused or expired doses of this drug in a safe manner as instructed by your physician or pharmacist. Review all accompanying information with your prescription and direct any questions to your health care provider to make sure you have a full understanding of how to take this drug.