Generic Name: dexamethasone (injection)
- What is dexamethasone?
- What are the possible side effects of dexamethasone?
- What is the most important information I should know about dexamethasone?
- What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving dexamethasone?
- How is dexamethasone given?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
- What happens if I overdose?
- What should I avoid while receiving dexamethasone?
- What other drugs will affect dexamethasone?
- Where can I get more information?
What is dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
Dexamethasone is used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, breathing disorders, eye conditions, blood cell disorders, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, inflammation of the joints or tendons, and problems caused by low adrenal gland hormone levels.
Dexamethasone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What are the possible side effects of dexamethasone?
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- fever, chills, tiredness, not feeling well;
- worsening pain, swelling, or stiffness of a joint treated with this medicine;
- muscle weakness, limp feeling;
- swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;
- blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
- bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;
- a seizure;
- increased pressure inside the skull--severe headaches, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, pain behind your eyes;
- pancreatitis--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back; or
- low potassium level--leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination, numbness or tingling.
Dexamethasone can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.
Common side effects may include:
- fluid retention (swelling in your hands or ankles);
- headache, dizziness;
- increased blood pressure;
- slow wound healing;
- acne, thinning skin, bruising or discoloration;
- changes in your menstrual periods; or
- changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is the most important information I should know about dexamethasone?
You should not use this medicine if you have a fungal infection anywhere in your body.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, and all the medicines you are using. There are many other diseases that can be affected by steroid use, and many other medicines that can interact with steroids.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving dexamethasone?
You should not be treated with dexamethasone if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
- a fungal infection anywhere in your body.
Steroid medication affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily. Steroids can also worsen or reactivate an infection you've already had. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver disease (such as cirrhosis);
- kidney disease;
- a thyroid disorder;
- a parasite infection that causes diarrhea (such as threadworms);
- a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis;
- diabetes (steroid medicine may increase glucose levels in your blood or urine);
- glaucoma or cataracts;
- herpes infection of the eyes;
- stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease;
- depression or mental illness;
- congestive heart failure, a heart attack; or
- high blood pressure.
How is dexamethasone given?
Dexamethasone is injected into a muscle, or given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Dexamethasone is usually given by injection only if you are unable to take the medicine by mouth.
Your dose needs may change due to surgery, illness, stress, or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.
This medicine can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using dexamethasone.
If you stop using dexamethasone suddenly after long-term use you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of dexamethasone.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
An overdose of dexamethasone is not expected to produce life threatening symptoms. Long term use of high doses can lead to thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex.
What should I avoid while receiving dexamethasone?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chickenpox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medicine.
Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking dexamethasone.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using dexamethasone, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, smallpox, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
Avoid receiving any other type of vaccine without your doctor's advice, including a yearly flu shot.
What other drugs will affect dexamethasone?
Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.
Many drugs can affect dexamethasone. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
Where can I get more information?
Your pharmacist can provide more information about dexamethasone.
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