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Dexamethasone - Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Drug Warnings, and Precautions

Published on Jul 30, 2020 and last reviewed on Feb 08, 2021   -  10 min read

Abstract

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication used in various rheumatic disorders and skin conditions. Learn about its uses, dosage, drug warnings, side effects, precautions, drug interactions, and more.

Contents
Dexamethasone - Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Drug Warnings, and Precautions

Overview:

Dexamethasone is a prescription drug that is available as a tablet or solution to be taken orally, eye drops, eardrops, an injectable solution, and an intraocular solution. The injectable forms can only be administered by a healthcare professional. This drug is used to treat various inflammatory conditions, including allergic reactions. It is also used for adrenal insufficiency. This drug relieves redness, itching, swelling, and allergic reaction by working on the immune system of the body.

Prolonged use of Dexamethasone can result in candidiasis (thrush), cataracts, loss of bone, or muscle weakness. It is usually not prescribed for pregnant and breastfeeding women, but it has not been found to affect the baby’s health significantly. It also suppresses the immune response.

Drug Group:

Dexamethasone belongs to the class of drugs called glucocorticosteroids (glucocorticoid). They are a synthetic form of corticosteroids, which are natural steroids secreted by the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is a small gland located on top of the kidney. It suppresses inflammation, helps the body respond to stress, and regulates the metabolism of fat and sugar. Examples of other glucocorticoids are Beclomethasone, Budesonide, Cortisone, Hydrocortisone, Prednisolone, and Triamcinolone.

What Is Dexamethasone Used For?

Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of the following conditions that cause inflammation, and are related to immune response, and hormone insufficiency:

Never take Dexamethasone or any other medicine without consulting your doctor first.

Dexamethasone and COVID-19:

This is the first drug to show positive results in critically ill COVID-19 patients on ventilators or oxygen therapy. Recently, the RECOVERY clinical trial conducted by Oxford University found that Dexamethasone, in low doses, increases the survival rates in COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) patients requiring respiratory support.

The study showed the drug to reduce fatality in patients on ventilatory by one-third and in patients on oxygen by one-fifth. The drug did not show any effect on infected patients who did not need respiratory support.

DO NOT use this drug to treat the new coronavirus infection unless prescribed by your treating doctor.

How Does Dexamethasone Work?

Apart from this, corticosteroids also result in apoptosis (cell death) of certain cells. This action helps with certain types of cancer.

Onset Of Action:

It takes around 8 to 24 hours for the effects of Dexamethasone to be apparent if taken orally.

Habit-Forming:

There have been no reports of the habit-forming tendency in people taking Dexamethasone. But, you might experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug suddenly.

Expiry Date:

Avoid taking this medicine after it expires. The expiry date will be printed on the back of the pack.

What Is the Dosage of Dexamethasone?

The dosage of Dexamethasone will be decided by your doctor based on your age, weight, and other medical conditions. You will be first started on a low dosage, and depending on how your body reacts, the dosage will be modified. Oral tablet form of Dexamethasone is available in 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1. 1.5, 4, and 6 mg strengths.

Dosage of Dexamethasone

For older adults (above 65 years of age), the dosage will be adjusted by your doctor depending on the creatinine clearance and liver function test.

Dexamethasone Overdose:

Taking too much of this drug can have severe side effects. The symptoms of overdose are irregular heartbeats, trouble breathing, hives, swelling of the throat or tongue, and seizures.

How to Use Dexamethasone?

Oral tablet and solution forms of Dexamethasone are usually prescribed. Based on your condition, the doctor will prescribe the appropriate dosage. Make sure you stick to the dosage. Read the prescription label properly, and in case you do not understand the prescription, ask the doctor or pharmacist to explain. Avoid taking Dexamethasone more or less than what is prescribed by the doctor, and take them after food.

This medication can also be given into your vein (intravenous), which only a healthcare provider can administer. The eye drops are used for various eye conditions and during chemotherapy, usually every 6 hours for 2 days. For skin disorders, the doctor will prescribe a topical lotion.

Never stop taking this medicine suddenly without consulting your doctor first. Sudden stoppage can result in loss of appetite, indigestion, drowsiness, headaches, confusion, fever, muscle pain, joint pain, weight loss, and dry skin. If you have been taking this drug for a long time, you would have to reduce the dose and then stop gradually. This gives your body time to adjust to the low levels of steroids. You might experience these side effects even when you gradually decrease your dose or change to an inhalation corticosteroid drug. Report to your doctor immediately if you develop these side effects. The doctor might ask you to start taking this medicine again or increase the dosage.

Missed Dose:

If you miss a dose or do not take the drug on time, the drug's effectiveness might reduce, or it might stop working altogether. At all times, a certain level of this drug has to be present in your body for it to work well. In case you missed taking a dose of Dexamethasone, do not double the next dose. Instead, just skip the missed dose and take the next dosage.

What Are the Drug Warnings and Precautions?

There are a few things that need to be considered before taking this tablet, and inform your doctor in case you have any of the following conditions:

What Are the Side Effects of Dexamethasone?

The common side effects of Dexamethasone (oral tablets) are:

These symptoms are usually mild and most usually go away in a few days. If it does not, consult a doctor immediately.

The serious side effects seen with Dexamethasone oral tablet include:

In case you exhibit any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Dexamethasone can also result in other side effects that are not listed here, so always consult a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms.

What Are the Interactions of Dexamethasone?

It is natural for all drugs to interact with other drugs, food, and supplements. This interaction can result in certain unwanted side effects. The common interactions of Dexamethasone are:

1) With medicine-

2) With disease-

What Are the Common Brands or Trade Names of Dexamethasone?

The common brand or trade names of Dexamethasone are:

  1. Tablet Decdan 0.5 mg.

  2. Tablet Demisone 0.5 mg.

  3. Tablet Dexamine 0.5 mg.

  4. Tablet Dexona 0.5 mg.

  5. Tablet Dexasone 0.5 mg.

Consult a doctor if you do not feel fine even after taking Dexamethasone. Avoid self-medication.

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Last reviewed at:
08 Feb 2021  -  10 min read

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