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Dexamethasone

Pronunciation

Generic Name: dexamethasone (dex-a-METH-a-sone)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Dexamethasone is used for:

Treating certain conditions associated with decreased adrenal gland function. It is also used to treat severe inflammation due to certain conditions, including severe asthma, severe allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, certain blood disorders, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and certain eye and skin conditions. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid. It works by decreasing or preventing tissues from responding to inflammation. It also modifies the body's response to certain immune stimulation.

Do NOT use dexamethasone if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in dexamethasone
  • you have a systemic fungal infection
  • you are taking mifepristone

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using dexamethasone:

Some medical conditions may interact with dexamethasone. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are scheduled for a vaccination with a live virus vaccine (eg, smallpox)
  • if you have an underactive thyroid, liver or kidney problems, diabetes, or ulcerative colitis
  • if you have heart problems, esophagitis, gastritis, stomach obstruction or perforation, or an ulcer
  • if you have a history of mental problems (eg, depression), glaucoma, cataracts, or other eye problems
  • if you have a herpes infection in your eye or any other type of infection (bacterial, fungal, or viral); have or recently had tuberculosis (TB) or tested positive for TB, measles, or chickenpox

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with dexamethasone. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Barbiturates (eg, phenobarbital), carbamazepine, hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), or rifampin because they may decrease dexamethasone's effectiveness
  • Clarithromycin, azole antifungals (eg, ketoconazole), steroidal contraceptives (eg, desogestrel), or troleandomycin because because weakness, confusion, muscle aches, joint pain, or low blood sugar, may occur
  • Methotrexate or ritodrine because the risk of their side effects may be increased by dexamethasone
  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin),mifepristone, or live vaccines because their effectiveness may be decreased by dexamethasone
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) or aspirin because their actions and side effects may be increased or decreased by dexamethasone

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if dexamethasone may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use dexamethasone:

Use dexamethasone as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take dexamethasone by mouth with food.
  • If you miss a dose of dexamethasone, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use dexamethasone.

Important safety information:

  • Dexamethasone may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take dexamethasone before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Dexamethasone may cause an elevation in blood pressure, salt and water retention, and increased potassium loss. You may need to restrict the use of salt and take a calcium supplement.
  • Dexamethasone can cause calcium loss and promote the development of osteoporosis. Take adequate calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Diabetes patients -- Dexamethasone may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Caution is advised when using dexamethasone in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Corticosteroids may affect growth rate in CHILDREN and teenagers in some cases. They may need regular growth checks while they take dexamethasone.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if dexamethasone can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using dexamethasone while you are pregnant. Dexamethasone is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking dexamethasone.

Possible side effects of dexamethasone:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Difficulty sleeping; feeling of a whirling motion; increased appetite; increased sweating; indigestion; mood changes; nervousness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); appetite loss; black, tarry stools; changes in menstrual periods; convulsions; depression; diarrhea; dizziness; exaggerated sense of well-being; fever; general body discomfort; headache; increased pressure in the eye; joint or muscle pain; mood swings; muscle weakness; personality changes; prolonged sore throat, cold, or fever; puffing of the face; severe nausea or vomiting; swelling of feet or legs; unusual weight gain; vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds; weakness; weight loss.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of dexamethasone:

Store dexamethasone at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep dexamethasone out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about dexamethasone, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Dexamethasone is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take dexamethasone or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about dexamethasone. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to dexamethasone. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using dexamethasone.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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