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Table of Contents > Drugs >  Dexamethasone
Brand Names
Foreign Brand Names
Therapeutic Categories
Reasons not to take this medicine
What is this medicine used for?
How does it work?
How is it best taken?
What do I do if I miss a dose?
What are the precautions when taking this medicine?
What are the common side effects of this medicine?
What should I monitor?
Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately
How should I store this medicine?
General statements

(deks a METH a sone)

Brand Names
AK-Dex® Ophthalmic; Baldex®; Dalalone®; Dalalone D.P.®; Dalalone L.A.®; Decadron®; Decadron®-LA; Decadron® Phosphate; Decaject®; Decaject-LA®; Decaspray®; Dexacort® Phosphate Turbinaire®; Dexasone®; Dexasone® L.A.; Dexone®; Dexone® LA; Hexadrol®; Hexadrol® Phosphate; Maxidex®; Solurex®; Solurex L.A.®

Foreign Brand Names
Alin Depot (Mexico); Alin (Mexico); Decadronal® (Mexico); Decorex (Mexico); Dibasona (Mexico)

Therapeutic Categories
Corticosteroid, Oral; Corticosteroid, Oral Inhaler; Corticosteroid, Nasal; Corticosteroid, Ophthalmic; Corticosteroid, Parenteral; Corticosteroid, Topical

Reasons not to take this medicine

  • If you have an allergy to dexamethasone or any other part of the medicine.
  • If you have a fungal, viral, or tubercular infection.

What is this medicine used for?

  • This medicine is used for the treatment of inflamed areas of the body, severe allergies, skin problems, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, organ transplantation, leukemias/lymphomas, brain swelling, ulcerative colitis, sarcoidosis, spinal cord injuries, Addison's disease, and arthritis.
  • It is used in other diseases where the anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant properties are needed.
  • It is a replacement for your body's own cortisol.
  • It is used in eye problems where irritation occurs. It is used in corneal injury. This injury could have been caused by chemicals, radiation, burns, or an accident.

How does it work?

  • Dexamethasone is a man-made form of an important chemical produced in the body.
  • Dexamethasone puts down the body's response to the allergen (the cause of the allergy) and reduces swelling, redness, itching, and other symptoms of allergy.
  • It also reduces the body's ability to fight infection.

How is it best taken?

  • Oral:
    • Take with food. Take in the morning if you are taking this medicine once a day.
    • A liquid (elixir, solution, concentrated solution) is available if you cannot swallow pills. Those who have feeding tubes can also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after medicine is given.
    • Do not suddenly stop using this medicine if you have been taking it for a long time. Medicine should be slowly decreased.
  • Eye:
    • For the eye only.
    • Take out soft contact lenses before using medicine. Lenses can be replaced 15 minutes after medicine is given.
    • Do not touch the bottle or tube tip to the eye, lid, or other skin.
    • Tilt head back and drop medicine into eye.
    • After using medicine keep your eyes closed. Apply pressure to the inside corner of the eye. Do this for 3-5 minutes. This keeps medicine in the eye.
    • Separate each eye medicine by 5 minutes. Give one and wait 5 minutes before using the next.
  • Skin:
    • Do not take by mouth. For skin only. Keep out of mouth, nose, and eyes (may burn).
    • Wash your hands before and after use.
    • Use a small amount over the area affected as a light film. Rub in gently.
    • Do not put coverings (bandages, dressings, make-up) over the area unless told to do so by healthcare provider.
    • Do not use tight-fitting diapers or plastic pants on a child treated in the diaper area. This may cause more medicine to get into the child's system.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as possible.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed one. Return to your regular schedule.
  • Do not take a double dose or extra doses.
  • Do not change dose or stop taking medicine without talking with healthcare provider.

What are the precautions when taking this medicine?

  • Tell healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Make sure to tell about the allergy and how it affected you. This includes telling about rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, throat; or any other symptoms involved.
  • Tell healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.
  • Tell healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding.
  • Oral:
    • Wear drug medical alert identification if you have asthma, lung disease, or are an allergy sufferer or if you are going to be on this medicine longer than 3-4 weeks.
    • Unless healthcare provider told you to stop, it is dangerous to run out of this medication. Get it refilled today!
    • Avoid alcohol (includes wine, beer, and liquor). Alcohol increases risk of stomach irritation or ulcers.
    • If you have had a stomach ulcer or bleeding, tell healthcare provider. This medicine can cause ulcers.
    • Use caution if you have a weakened heart. Salt and water can accumulate. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Use caution if you are diabetic. Diabetic medicine may need increasing. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Use caution if you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure may increase. Talk with healthcare provider.
    • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other healthcare providers about this medicine.
    • Tell healthcare provider if you are being treated for any infections.

What are the common side effects of this medicine?

  • Oral:
    • Risk of infection. Avoid crowds and people with infections, colds, or flu.
    • High blood sugar. It can cause diabetes. This usually goes away when the medicine is stopped.
    • Menstrual changes. Premenopausal women may not have a normal period. Postmenopausal women may have bleeding and spotting.
    • Weakened bones. Take calcium and vitamin D as recommended by healthcare provider.
    • Weight gain. It may cause salt and water gain. It may increase hunger and you may eat more.
    • Muscle weakness. Seen in thighs and upper arms.
    • Skin changes. This includes pimples, stretch marks, slow healing if cut, hair growth.
    • Cataracts, glaucoma with long-term use.
    • Changes in fat distribution. Fat stores can move to face and back.
    • Belly pain and cramps.
    • Nausea or vomiting. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking hard candy, or chewing gum may help.
  • Eye:
    • Elevated eye pressure; glaucoma.
    • Eye infection.
    • Stinging or burning.
  • Skin:
    • Burning, swelling, or redness of the skin.

What should I monitor?

  • If a child is using this medicine, monitor growth carefully.
  • Watch for swelling of legs or belly, shortness of breath, weight gain, exercise tolerance. If any of these worsen, talk with healthcare provider.
  • Report a 3-5 pound weight gain.
  • Check blood sugar as ordered by healthcare provider. High blood sugar can cause many trips to the bathroom, thirst, and weight loss.
  • Watch for signs of infection.

Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately

  • Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; tightness in the chest; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Any signs or symptoms of infection. This may include a fever greater than 99 degrees, chills, sore throat, cough, increased sputum or change in color, painful urination, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, anal itching or pain.
  • Vaginal discharge and/or itching.
  • Chest pains, fast heartbeats, shortness of breath, or decreased ability to walk.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
  • Menstrual changes. This includes lots of bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between cycles.
  • Feeling weak, tired, irritable, trembling, having rapid heartbeats, confusion, sweating, dizzy, especially if you missed a dose or recently stopped this medicine.
  • Pain, redness, itching, or swelling of the eye.
  • Severe burning, swelling, or redness of skin.
  • Any rash.
  • No improvement in condition or feeling worse.

How should I store this medicine?

  • Store at room temperature.

General statements

  • Do not share your medicine with others and do not take anyone else's medicine.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep a list of all your medicines (prescription, herbal/supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter) with you. Give this list to healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physician assistant).
  • Talk with healthcare provider before starting any new medicine, including over-the-counter or natural products (herbs, vitamins).

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