Zema Pak Side Effects
Generic name: dexamethasone
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 16, 2023.
Note: This document contains side effect information about dexamethasone. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Zema Pak.
Applies to dexamethasone: oral elixir, oral solution, oral tablet.
Serious side effects of Zema Pak
Along with its needed effects, dexamethasone (the active ingredient contained in Zema Pak) 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 while taking dexamethasone:
- 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
Other side effects of Zema Pak
Some side effects of dexamethasone 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
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to dexamethasone: compounding powder, inhalation aerosol with adapter, injectable solution, injectable suspension, intravenous solution, oral concentrate, oral liquid, oral tablet.
The most commonly occurring side effects have included alteration in glucose tolerance, behavioral and mood changes, increased appetite, and weight gain; the incidence generally correlates with dosage, timing of administration, and duration of treatment.[Ref]
A wide range of psychiatric reactions including affective disorders (e.g., irritable, euphoric, depressed, labile mood, and suicidal ideation) psychotic reactions (e.g., mania, delusions, hallucinations, aggravation of schizophrenia), behavioral disturbances, irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances and cognitive dysfunction (e.g., confusion, amnesia) have been reported. These reactions have been reported in adults and children. In adults, the occurrence of severe reactions has been estimated to be about 5% to 6%.[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Depression, affective disorders, anxiety, emotional instability, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, psychic disorders, confusional states, anxiety, abnormal behavior, irritability, aggravated schizophrenia[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Convulsions, headache, increased intracranial pressure with papilledema (pseudotumor cerebri) usually following discontinuation of treatment, benign intracranial hypertension, neuropathy[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Abdominal distention, nausea, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, perforation of the small and large intestine, ulcerative esophagitis, gastric hemorrhage, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea, flatulence[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Decreased carbohydrate and glucose tolerance, hyperglycemia, glycosuria, manifestations of latent diabetes, hypokalemic alkalosis, potassium loss, sodium retention, increased appetite, negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism, weight gain, metabolic acidosis, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, dyslipidemia[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Exophthalmos, glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure, posterior subcapsular cataracts, blindness, chorioretinopathy, worsening of symptoms associated with corneal ulcers, retinopathy of prematurity, blurred vision[Ref]
Rare instances of blindness have been associated with corticosteroid intralesional therapy around the face and head.[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Bradycardia, cardiac arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac enlargement, circulatory collapse, congestive heart failure, fat embolism, hypertension, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in premature infants, myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction, syncope, tachycardia, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis, edema[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Suppression of growth in pediatric patients, aseptic necrosis of femoral and humeral heads, calcinosis, Charcot-like atrophy, loss of muscle mass, muscle weakness, steroid myopathy. osteoporosis, pathologic fracture of long bones, postinjection flare, tendon rupture, particularly of the Achilles tendon, vertebral compression fractures, myalgia, muscle atrophy, osteonecrosis, neuropathic arthralgia, growth retardation[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Acne, allergic dermatitis, dry scaly skin, ecchymosis, hirsutism, petechiae, erythema, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, impaired wound healing, increased sweating, rash, sterile abscess, striae, suppressed reactions to skin tests, thin fragile skin, thinning scalp hair, urticaria, hypertrichosis, angioedema, skin atrophy, hyperhidrosis, pruritus, burning or tingling especially in the perineal area (after IV injection), telangiectasia, pigment disorders[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Hepatomegaly, elevation in liver enzymes[Ref]
Frequency not reported: Opportunistic infection, exacerbation of latent infections, decreased resistance to infection, immunosuppression, candidiasis, chicken pox (varicella)
Frequency not reported: Vertigo, abnormal fat deposits, malaise, sterile abscess, impaired healing, fatigue, malaise
Frequently asked questions
More about Zema Pak (dexamethasone)
- Check interactions
- Compare alternatives
- Latest FDA alerts (9)
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Drug class: glucocorticoids
Related treatment guides
1. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.
2. Product Information. Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate (dexamethasone). West Ward Pharmaceutical Corporation. 2016.
3. Product Information. Dexamethasone (dexamethasone). Par Pharmaceutical Inc (formerly Qualitest Pharmaceuticals Inc). 2017.
4. Sechi GP, Piras MR, Demurtas A, Tanca S, Rosati G. Dexamethasone-induced schizoaffective-like state in multiple sclerosis: prophylaxis and treatment with carbamazepine. Clin Neuropharmacol. 1987;10:453-7.
5. Carroll BJ, Schroeder K, Mukhopadhyay S, Greden JF, Feinberg M, Ritchie J, Tarika J. Plasma dexamethasone concentrations and cortisol suppression response in patients with endogenous depression. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1980;51:433-7.
6. Product Information. Decadron (dexamethasone). Merck & Co., Inc. 2001.
7. Jaime Vazquez J. Persistent hiccup as a side-effect of dexamethasone treatment. Hum Exp Toxicol. 1993;12:52.
8. Kanwar AJ, Kaur S, Dhar S, Ghosh S. Hiccup--a side-effect of pulse therapy. Dermatology. 1993;187:279.
9. Fadul CE, Lemann W, Thaler HT, Posner JB. Perforation of the gastrointestinal tract in patients receiving steroids for neurologic disease. Neurology. 1988;38:348-52.
10. McDonnell M, Evans N. Upper and lower gastrointestinal complications with dexamethasone despite H2 antagonists. J Paediatr Child Health. 1995;31:152-4.
11. Whitmore SE. Dexamethasone injection-induced generalized dermatitis. Br J Dermatol. 1994;131:296-7.
12. New MI, Peterson RE, Saenger P, Levine LS. Evidence for an unidentified ACTH-induced steroid hormone causing hypertension. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976;43:1283-93.
13. Spenney JG, Eure CA, Kreisberg RA. Hyperglycemic, hyperosmolar, nonketoacidotic diabetes. A complication of steroid and immunosupressive therapy. Diabetes. 1969;18:107-10.
14. Ludvik B, Clodi M, Kautzky-Willer A, Capek M, Hartter E, Pacini G, Prager R. Effect of dexamethasone on insulin sensitivity, islet amyloid polypeptide and insulin secretion in humans. Diabetologia. 1993;36:84-7.
15. Tsoi WW. Cushing's syndrome caused by analgesic/dexamethasone preparation. Ann Pharmacother. 1994;28:1411.
16. Kobayashi Y, Akaishi K, Nishio T, Kimura Y. Posterior subcapsular cataract in nephrotic children receiving steroid therapy. Am J Dis Child. 1974;128:671-3.
17. Bluming AZ, Zeegen P. Cataracts induced by intermittent Decadron used as an antiemetic. J Clin Oncol. 1986;4:221-3.
18. Godel V, Regenbogen L, Stein R. On the mechanism of corticosteroid-induced ocular hypertension. Ann Ophthalmol. 1978;10:191-6.
19. Francois J. Corticosteroid glaucoma. Ann Ophthalmol. 1977;9:1075-80.
20. Schmidt GB, Meier MA, Sadove MS. Sudden appearance of cardiac arrhythmias after dexamethasone. JAMA. 1972;221:1402-4.
21. Rao G, Zikria EA, Miller WH, Samadani SR, Ford WB. Cardiac arrhythmias after dexamethasone. JAMA. 1972;222:1185.
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.