Highlights for dexamethasone
Dexamethasone oral tablet is available as both a generic and brand-name drug. Brand name: DexPak.
Dexamethasone comes as an oral tablet, oral solution, eye drops, and eardrops. It’s also available as an injectable solution or an intraocular solution given after surgery. These two forms are only given by a healthcare provider.
Dexamethasone oral tablet is used to treat many conditions. These include inflammation, allergic reactions, and flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. They also include adrenal insufficiency.
Heart Damage Warning: If you’ve recently had a heart attack, you may be at increased risk for further heart damage from this drug. Before starting this drug, be sure your doctor knows you’ve had a heart attack.
Infection Warning: Dexamethasone can cover up or worsen certain infections. In addition, infections can develop during treatment. Don’t use this drug if you have fungal infections, or a history of parasite infections or tuberculosis. Tell your doctor about any past illnesses or infections.
Eye Problems Warning: Using dexamethasone for long periods can lead to eye problems such as cataracts or glaucoma. The drug may also cause damage to the optic nerves, or fungal or viral eye infections.
Measles or Chickenpox Warning: Tell your doctor if you haven’t had chickenpox or measles, or if you haven’t had the vaccines to prevent them. You could have more serious versions of these illnesses if you have them while taking dexamethasone.
What is dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a prescription medication. It’s available as an oral tablet, oral solution, eye drops, and eardrops. It’s also available as an injectable solution or an intraocular solution given after surgery. These last two forms are only given by a healthcare provider.
The dexamethasone tablet is available as the brand-name drug DexPak. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in all strengths or forms as the brand-name drug.
Why it’s used
The dexamethasone oral tablet is used to treat conditions that cause inflammation, conditions related to immune system activity, and hormone deficiency. These conditions include:
- allergic reactions
rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and acute gouty arthritis
skin diseases, such as pemphigus, severe erythema multiforme (Stevens-Johnson syndrome), exfoliative dermatitis, bullous dermatitis herpetiformis, severe seborrheic dermatitis, severe psoriasis, or mycosis fungoides
flare-ups of intestinal disease, such as ulcerative colitis
flare-ups of multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis
pre-treatment for chemotherapy to reduce inflammation and side effects from cancer medications
adrenal insufficiency (a condition where the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones)
How it works
Dexamethasone belongs to a class of drugs called steroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
For conditions with inflammation: With certain conditions, inflammation can cause the immune system to be overactive. This can damage the body’s tissues. Steroids such as dexamethasone help block the immune system’s response to inflammation, which helps prevent this damage.
For adrenal insufficiency: The adrenal gland helps control certain body functions. These functions include managing blood glucose, fighting infection, and controlling stress. In people with adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal gland releases lower amounts of certain hormones. Dexamethasone helps replace these hormones.
Dexamethasone oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.
More common side effects
The more common side effects that can occur with dexamethasone oral tablets include:
- stomach upset
- swelling (edema)
- mood changes, such as depression, mood swings, or personality changes
- trouble falling asleep
- low potassium levels (causing symptoms such as tiredness)
- high blood glucose
- high blood pressure
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Dexamethasone Serious side effects:
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Unusual tiredness
- Unusual dizziness
Unusual digestive upset. Symptoms can include:
- stomach pain
- nausea or vomiting
- Blood in your stool, or black stools
- Blood in your urine
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Unusual swelling throughout your body, or bloating in your abdomen (stomach area)
Infection. Symptoms can include:
- muscle aches
- joint pain
Changes in mood or thoughts, or mood disorders such as depression. Symptoms can include:
- severe mood swings
- euphoria (a feeling of intense happiness)
- trouble sleeping
- personality changes
Severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- trouble breathing
Adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms can include:
- darkened skin color
- dizziness when standing
More frequent infections (can occur with long-term use)
Stomach ulcers. Symptoms can include:
- pain in the abdomen (stomach area)
- Congestive heart failure. Symptoms can include:
- shortness of breath
- swollen legs
- rapid heartbeat
- Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
Dexamethasone may interact with other medications
Dexamethasone oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with dexamethasone are listed below.
Erythromycin is used to treat infections caused by bacteria. When used with dexamethasone, this drug can increase the amount of dexamethasone in your body. This raises your risk of side effects.
When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat fungal infections can increase the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can raise your risk of side effects. Examples of these drugs include:
Amphotericin B is another drug used to treat fungal infections. Using this drug with dexamethasone raises your risk of low potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.) This can cause muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, and an irregular heartbeat.
Using dexamethasone with certain blood thinners can decrease the levels of these drugs in your body. This can make them less effective, and raise your risk of clots or stroke. Examples of these drugs include:
Warfarin is also used to thin the blood. Using dexamethasone with this drug may result in changes to your risk of bleeding. Your doctor may need to monitor you closely.
If you take dexamethasone with certain drugs used to lower cholesterol, it can keep your body from absorbing dexamethasone well. This could keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:
Cushing’s syndrome drugs
Aminoglutethimide is used to treat symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome (a disease of the adrenal gland). Using this drug with dexamethasone may decrease the amount of dexamethasone in your body. This means it may not work as well.
Dexamethasone may increase your blood glucose. If you take diabetes drugs, your doctor may need to change your dose. Examples of these drugs include:
amylin analogs, such as:
biguanides, such as:
GLP-1 agonists, such as:
- DPP4 inhibitors, such as:
- meglitinides, such as:
- sulfonylureas, such as:
- SGLT-2 inhibitors, such as:
- thiazolidinediones, such as:
- Diuretics (water pills)
When used with dexamethasone, these drugs reduce your body’s potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.) This can cause muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, and an irregular heartbeat. Examples of these drugs include:
- Epilepsy drugs
When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat epilepsy can lower the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:
- Heart drugs
Digoxin is used to treat heart rhythm problems or heart failure. Taking this drug with dexamethasone could increase your risk of irregular heartbeats caused by low potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.)
Taking certain hormones with dexamethasone can cause decreased levels of these hormones in your body. Your doctor may have to adjust your dose of either the dexamethasone or hormone medications. Examples of these drugs include:
- oral contraceptives
- HIV drugs
Taking certain drugs used to treat HIV with dexamethasone can reduce the levels of these drugs in your body. This means they may not work as well, and your body may stop responding to your HIV medications. Your doctor may avoid use of these drugs with dexamethasone. Examples of these drugs include:
protease inhibitors, such as:
non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, such as:
entry inhibitors, such as:
integrase inhibitors, such as:
Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with dexamethasone raises your risk of stomach upset. Talk with your doctor about whether you can take these drugs together. Examples of NSAIDs include:
- Tuberculosis drugs
When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat tuberculosis (TB) can lower the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:
Isoniazid is another TB drug. When it’s used with dexamethasone, levels of isoniazid can be lowered. This can keep isoniazid from working well.
Avoid getting vaccines when taking dexamethasone. Certain vaccines may not work as well for people taking this drug. Also, the drug may make some live vaccines stronger. This raises the risk of side effects from the vaccine.
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s often used to treat pain, as well as thin the blood to reduce your risk of heart attack. Dexamethasone can decrease your aspirin levels. This can make aspirin less effective and increase your risk of heart attack. Also, aspirin can increase your risk of bleeding from stomach ulceration (sores) when used with dexamethasone. If you take aspirin, talk with your doctor about whether dexamethasone is safe for you.
Thalidomide is used to treat skin lesions and multiple myeloma. Combining it with dexamethasone can cause toxic epidermal necrolysis. This skin condition can be life-threatening. If your doctor prescribes both of these drugs for you, they will be cautious about effects the combination can cause.
Cyclosporine is used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, as well as to treat rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. Taking this drug with dexamethasone could increase the risk that your immune system will be suppressed (won’t work well). This would raise your risk of infection. Seizures have also been reported when these drugs are used together.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Disclaimer: ProTechVibes.com has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.