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Dexmedetomidine Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 3, 2022.

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of dexmedetomidine include: bradycardia, hypotension, agitation, hypertension, nausea, and tachycardia. Other side effects include: vomiting, and xerostomia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to dexmedetomidine: parenteral injection concentrate, parenteral premixed injection in 0.9% sodium chloride injection


Special Alerts:

A standardized concentration for this drug has been established through Standardize 4 Safety (S4S), a national patient safety initiative to reduce medication errors, especially during transitions of care. The drug is included in a standard concentration list which may apply to an IV or oral compounded liquid formulation. For additional information, see the ASHP website [Web].

Side effects include:

Short-term (<24 hours) infusions for ICU sedation: Hypotension, hypertension, nausea, bradycardia, fever, vomiting, hypovolemia, atelectasis, atrial fibrillation, hypoxia, tachycardia, hemorrhage, anemia, dry mouth.

Long-term (>24 hours) infusions for ICU sedation: Hypotension, bradycardia, hypertension, tachycardia, hypokalemia, agitation, hyperglycemia, constipation, hypoglycemia, respiratory failure.

Procedural sedation: Hypotension, respiratory depression, bradycardia, hypertension, tachycardia, nausea, dry mouth.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to dexmedetomidine: intravenous solution, sublingual film


Very common (10% or more): Hypotension (56%), bradycardia (42%), systolic hypertension (28%), hypotension requiring intervention (28%), tachycardia (25%), hypertension requiring intervention (19%), hypertension (16%), diastolic hypertension (12%), tachycardia requiring intervention (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Atrial fibrillation, sinus tachycardia, myocardial ischemia or infarction, bradycardia requiring intervention

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Ventricular tachycardia, atrioventricular block first degree, decreased cardiac output

Frequency not reported: Sinus arrest

Postmarketing reports: Arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, cardiac disorder, extrasystoles, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular arrhythmia, electrocardiogram T wave inversion, prolonged QT, blood pressure fluctuation, heart block[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Respiratory depression (37%)

Common (1% to 10%): Atelectasis, hypoxia, pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, bradypnea, pneumonia, pharyngolaryngeal pain

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Wheezing, dyspnea, apnea

Frequency not reported: Decreased respiratory rate

Postmarketing reports: Bronchospasm, hypercapnia, hypoventilation, pulmonary congestion, respiratory acidosis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Dry mouth, vomiting, constipation, abdominal distension, abdominal pain, diarrhea[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Decubitus ulcer

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Rash

Postmarketing reports: Hyperhidrosis[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Anemia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Thrombocytopenia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hypovolemia, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia, acidosis, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, hypernatremia, hypophosphatemia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Metabolic acidosis, hypoalbuminemia, electrolyte imbalance

Postmarketing reports: Hyperkalemia, acidosis[Ref]

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Headache

Postmarketing reports: Convulsion, dizziness, neuralgia, neuritis, speech disorder[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Pyrexia, hyperthermia, chills, post-procedural hemorrhage, withdrawal event/syndrome, rigors, hyperpyrexia, pain, thirst, generalized edema, peripheral edema, sepsis, septic shock

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Ineffective drug

Frequency not reported: Tolerance, tachyphylaxis

Postmarketing reports: Light anesthesia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Agitation, anxiety

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hallucination

Postmarketing reports: Confusional state, delirium, illusion[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Acute renal failure, decreased urine output, oliguria

Postmarketing reports: Increased blood urea, polyuria[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Abnormal hepatic function, hyperbilirubinemia, increased ALT, increased AST, increased blood alkaline phosphatase, increased gamma-glutamyl transferase[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Reduced lacrimation

Postmarketing reports: Photopsia, abnormal vision, visual impairment[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Precedex (dexmedetomidine)" Abbott Pharmaceutical, Abbott Park, IL.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.