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 using dexamethasone?
- How is dexamethasone injection given?
- What happens if I miss a dose?
- What happens if I overdose?
- What should I avoid after 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, inflammatory eye conditions, blood cell disorders, leukemia, or endocrine disorders.
Dexamethasone may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What are the possible side effects of dexamethasone?
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Tell your doctor at once if you have:
- problems with your vision;
- swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;
- severe depression, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure (convulsions);
- bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
- pancreatitis (severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate);
- low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or
- dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).
Common side effects may include:
- sleep problems (insomnia), mood changes;
- acne, dry skin, thinning skin, bruising or discoloration;
- slow wound healing;
- increased sweating;
- headache, dizziness, spinning sensation;
- bloating; 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 medication if you have a fungal infection anywhere in your body.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using dexamethasone?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to dexamethasone or sulfites, or if you have a fungal infection anywhere in your body.
Steroid medication can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection. Steroids can also worsen an infection you already have, or reactivate an infection you recently had. Before using this medication, tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.
To make sure dexamethasone is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- cirrhosis or other liver disease;
- kidney disease;
- a thyroid disorder;
- a history of malaria;
- a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis;
- glaucoma or cataracts;
- herpes infection of the eyes;
- stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis;
- depression or mental illness;
- congestive heart failure;
- high blood pressure; or
- if you have recently had a heart attack.
Dexamethasone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Steroids can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medication.
How is dexamethasone injection given?
Dexamethasone is often injected into a muscle or into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. Dexamethasone injection is usually given for only a few days.
Your dosage needs may change if you have any unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.
This medication can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using dexamethasone.
After your treatment ends, you may have withdrawal symptoms such as fever, weakness, and joint or muscle pain. You should not stop using dexamethasone suddenly.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Because you will receive dexamethasone in a clinical setting, you are not likely to miss a dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid after receiving dexamethasone?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chicken pox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using a steroid.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using dexamethasone. Steroids may increase your risk of harmful effects from a live vaccine. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
What other drugs will affect dexamethasone?
Many drugs can interact with 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 medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with dexamethasone. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Where can I get more information?
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about dexamethasone.
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