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Dexamethasone: Side Effects, Uses, Interaction and Precautions

dexamethasone injection

GENERIC NAME(s): Dexamethasone

COMMON BRAND(s): Decadron, Baycadron, TaperDex, Dexamethasone Intensol, DexPak, ZoDex, Zonacort, Zema-Pak

What Is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication used to treat conditions such as arthritis, allergic reactions, certain skin and eye conditions, breathing problems, certain bowel disorders, blood/hormone/immune system disorders or certain cancers.

Dexamethasone can be taken by mouth, intravenously or as an injection into a muscle. [Trusted Source 1]

It was approved for medical use in 1961. In the united states, Dexamethasone medicine was the 321st most commonly prescribed medication in 2017, with more than one million prescriptions. [Trusted Source 1]


Tell your doctor about all medication you’re currently taking. Many drugs can interact with Dexamethasone, especially [Trusted Source 2] [Trusted Source 3]

  • Aminoglutethimide
  • Azole antifungals such as ketoconazole
  • Barbiturates such as phenobarbital
  • Rifamycins such as rifampin
  • Certain medications used to treat seizures
  • Birth control pills
  • Some prescription medicines
  • Cholestyramine
  • Digoxin
  • Ephedrine
  • Isoniazid
  • Mifepristone
  • Rilpivirine
  • Thalidomide
  • Some vitamins
  • Herbal products
  • Blood thinners such as dabigatran, warfarin
  • NSAIDs such as aspirin, celecoxib, ibuprofen
  • Certain cancer medications such as sunitinib, aldesleukin, dasatinib, lapatinib


Tell your doctor if you are allergic to it or if you have a history of any other allergy. Tell your doctor or health care provider if you have [Trusted Source 2] [Trusted Source 3]

  • Liver disease
  • A thyroid disorder
  • Malaria
  • Diabetes
  • Tuberculosis
  • Congestive heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis bone loss
  • Depression or mental illness
  • Glaucoma or cataracts
  • Herpes infection of the eyes
  • A muscle disorder
  • Stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease

It is not recommended for pregnant women. It may harm an unborn baby. It should be used only when clearly needed. Call your doctor for more details.

This drug may pass into the breast milk and can cause many side effects. Ask your doctor if you are breast—feeding.

What Are The Side Effects of Dexamethasone?

Common side effects of Dexamethasone may include [Trusted Source 2] [Trusted Source 3] [Trusted Source 4]

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Mood changes
  • Increased hair growth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Swelling in hands or ankles
  • Increased appetite
  • Skin rash, bruising or discoloration
  • Acne
  • Increased sweating
  • Changes in menstrual periods

Call your doctor if you have —

  • A seizure
  • Muscle tightness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Severe depression
  • Blurred or tunnel vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Eye pain or seeing halos around lights
  • Bloody or tarry stools
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fast or slow heart rate
  • Unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Increased blood pressure — blurred vision, severe headache, anxiety, nosebleed, pounding in your neck or ears
  • Low potassium level — constipation, irregular heartbeats, leg cramps, fluttering in your chest, numbness, increased thirst or urination
  • Pancreatitis — nausea and vomiting, severe pain in upper stomach spreading to the back

What Happens If I Take An Overdose Of Dexamethasone?

It is not expected to produce life threatening symptoms if you take an overdose. Long term use of high doses may lead to easy bruising, thinning skin, changes in body fat, increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems or infertility.

Seek emergency medical help or call the Poison Help line at 1—800—222—1222.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Dexamethasone?

Avoid being near the individuals who are sick or have an infections. Call your doctor or health care provider for preventive treatment if you are exposed to measles or chickenpox.

Avoid consuming alcohol while you are taking Dexamethasone medication.

Do not receive a “LIVE VACCINE” while using this mediction. Live vaccines may include rubella (MMR), oral polio, measles, mumps, rotavirus, oral typhoid, varicella, yellow fever and subcutaneous zoster.


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