Generic name: dexamethasone (dex-a-METH-a-sone)
Drug class: Glucocorticoids
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 19, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Baycadron Elixer
- Dekpak 13 Day Taperpak
- Dexamethasone Intensol
- DexPak 10 Day TaperPak
- DexPak Jr
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Endocrine-Metabolic Agent
Pharmacologic Class: Adrenal Glucocorticoid
Uses for dexamethasone
Dexamethasone provides relief for inflamed areas of the body. It is used to treat a number of different conditions, such as inflammation (swelling), severe allergies, adrenal problems, arthritis, asthma, blood or bone marrow problems, kidney problems, skin conditions, and flare-ups of multiple sclerosis. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid (cortisone-like medicine or steroid). It works on the immune system to help relieve swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions.
Dexamethasone tablets are also used in combination with other anti-myeloma products for the treatment of adults with multiple myeloma.
Dexamethasone is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using dexamethasone
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For dexamethasone, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to dexamethasone or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of Hemady™ in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of dexamethasone in children. However, pediatric patients are more likely to have slower growth and bone problems if dexamethasone is used for a long time. Recommended doses should not be exceeded, and the patient should be carefully monitored during therapy.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of dexamethasone in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have osteoporosis (weak bones) and age-related liver, kidney, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for elderly patients receiving dexamethasone.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking dexamethasone, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using dexamethasone with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Rotavirus Vaccine, Live
Using dexamethasone with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Amtolmetin Guacil
- Choline Salicylate
- Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
- Ethinyl Estradiol
- Flufenamic Acid
- Lutetium Lu 177 Dotatate
- Mefenamic Acid
- Niflumic Acid
- Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
- Salicylic Acid
- Sodium Salicylate
- St John's Wort
- Tiaprofenic Acid
- Tolfenamic Acid
- Vincristine Sulfate Liposome
Using dexamethasone with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of dexamethasone. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Blood clots or
- Cataracts or
- Congestive heart failure or
- Cushing's syndrome (adrenal gland problem) or
- Diabetes or
- Eye infection or
- Fluid retention or
- Glaucoma or
- Heart attack, recent or
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) or
- Mental health problems (eg, depression) or
- Myasthenia gravis (severe muscle weakness) or
- Osteoporosis or
- Peptic ulcer, active or history of or
- Personality changes or
- Stomach or intestinal problems (eg, diverticulitis, perforation, ulcerative colitis) or
- Thyroid problems or
- Tuberculosis, inactive—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Fungal infections or
- Herpes simplex eye infection—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Infection—May decrease your body's ability to fight infections.
Proper use of dexamethasone
Take dexamethasone exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance for unwanted effects.
Measure the oral liquid with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid.
The Dexamethasone Intensol™ solution is a concentrated liquid. Measure the concentrated liquid with the special oral dropper that comes with the package. The liquid should be added to water, juice, soda or a soda-like beverage, applesauce, or pudding. Stir the mixture well and drink or eat it right away. Do not store the mixture for future use.
You may take Hemady™ with or without food.
If you use dexamethasone for a long time, do not suddenly stop using it without checking first with your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely.
The dose of dexamethasone will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of dexamethasone. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (solution, tablets):
- Dose depends on medical condition:
- Adults—At first, 0.75 to 9 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
- Children—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. At first, 0.02 to 0.3 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day, divided and taken 3 or 4 times a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
- For multiple myeloma:
- Adults—20 or 40 milligrams (mg) once a day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- Dose depends on medical condition:
If you miss a dose of dexamethasone, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Throw away any unused Dexamethasone Intensol™ solution 90 days after the bottle is opened for the first time.
Precautions while using dexamethasone
If you will be taking dexamethasone for a long time, it is very important that your doctor check you at regular visits for any unwanted effects that may be caused by dexamethasone. Blood or urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using dexamethasone while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment and for 1 month after your last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using dexamethasone, tell your doctor right away.
If you are using dexamethasone for a long time, tell your doctor about any extra stress or anxiety in your life, including other health concerns and emotional stress. Your dose of dexamethasone might need to be changed for a short time while you have extra stress.
Using too much of dexamethasone or using it for a long time may increase your risk of having adrenal gland problems. Talk to your doctor right away if you have more than one of these symptoms while you are using dexamethasone: blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, a fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, increased thirst or urination, irritability, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Using dexamethasone may increase your risk of cancer, including Kaposi's sarcoma. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
While you are being treated with dexamethasone, do not have any immunizations (vaccines) without your doctor's approval. Dexamethasone may lower your body's resistance and the vaccine may not work as well or you might get the infection the vaccine is meant to prevent. In addition, you should not be around other persons living in your household who receive live virus vaccines because there is a chance they could pass the virus on to you. Some examples of live vaccines include measles, mumps, influenza (nasal flu vaccine), poliovirus (oral form), rotavirus, and rubella. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.
Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
Dexamethasone might cause thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) or slow growth in children if used for a long time. Tell your doctor if you have any bone pain or if you have an increased risk for osteoporosis. If your child is using dexamethasone, tell the doctor if you think your child is not growing properly.
Dexamethasone may cause myopathy. Tell your doctor right away if you have new or worsening unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.
Dexamethasone may cause changes in mood or behavior for some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you have depression, mood swings, a false or unusual sense of well-being, trouble sleeping, or personality changes while taking dexamethasone.
Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using dexamethasone. Dexamethasone may affect the results of certain skin tests.
Talk with your doctor before using dexamethasone if you plan to have children. Some men who use Hemady™ have become infertile (unable to have children).
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Dexamethasone side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- blurred vision
- decrease in the amount of urine
- fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- mental depression
- mood changes
- noisy, rattling breathing
- numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- pounding in the ears
- swelling of the fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs
- trouble thinking, speaking, or walking
- troubled breathing at rest
- weight gain
Incidence not known
- Abdominal or stomach cramping and/or burning (severe) or pain
- bloody, black, or tarry stools
- cough or hoarseness
- darkening of the skin
- decrease in height
- decreased vision
- dry mouth
- eye pain
- eye tearing
- facial hair growth in females
- fever or chills
- flushed, dry skin
- fruit-like breath odor
- full or round face, neck, or trunk
- heartburn and/or indigestion (severe and continuous)
- increased hunger
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- loss of appetite
- loss of sexual desire or ability
- lower back or side pain
- menstrual irregularities
- muscle pain or tenderness
- muscle wasting or weakness
- pain in the back, ribs, arms, or legs
- painful or difficult urination
- skin rash
- trouble healing
- trouble sleeping
- unexplained weight loss
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- vision changes
- vomiting of material that looks like coffee grounds
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Increased appetite
Incidence not known
- Abnormal fat deposits on the face, neck, and trunk
- dry scalp
- lightening of normal skin color
- red face
- reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
- swelling of the stomach area
- thinning of the scalp hair
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
More about dexamethasone
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- Drug class: glucocorticoids
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- Dexamethasone injection
- Dexamethasone Elixir and Solution
- Dexamethasone Injection Solution
- Dexamethasone Oral Drops
- Dexamethasone Tablets
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