WebMD Update: Dexamethasone, a steroid sometimes used for asthma, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, could reduce deaths in hospitalized coronavirus patients with severe complications by about a third, according to a new study. Learn More
This medication is used in combination with other drugs to treat a certain type of cancer (multiple myeloma). Dexamethasone belongs to a class of drugs known as corticosteroids. It is used to help your immune system control inflammation in your body. It may also be used to reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.
How to use dexamethasone oral
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily on specific days, depending on your treatment schedule. Take this medication with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise. The dosage and schedule are based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each scheduled day. Carefully follow your dosing schedule. To help you remember, it may help to mark your calendar with a reminder.
Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, weakness, or muscle/joint pain. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away.
Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills, cough), bone pain, easy bruising/bleeding, unusual weight gain, puffy face, mental/mood changes (such as depression, mood swings, agitation), menstrual period changes, slow wound healing, thinning skin, vision problems, muscle pain/tenderness/weakness.
This medication may rarely make your blood sugar rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst/urination. If you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
This medication may rarely cause blood clots (such as pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis). You may be at increased risk for blood clots if you have a history of blood clots, heart/blood vessel disease, heart failure, stroke, if you are pregnant, or if you are immobile (such as on very long plane flights or being bedridden). If you use estrogen-containing products, these may also increase your risk. Before using this medication, if you have any of these conditions report them to your doctor or pharmacist. Get medical help right away if any of these side effects occur: shortness of breath/rapid breathing, chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusual sweating, confusion, sudden dizziness/fainting, pain/swelling/warmth in the groin/calf, sudden/severe headaches, trouble speaking, weakness on one side of the body, sudden vision changes.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking dexamethasone, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: infections (such as tuberculosis, herpes, fungal infections), high blood pressure, heart problems (such as heart failure, recent heart attack), kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as psychosis, anxiety, depression), mineral imbalance (such as low level of potassium/calcium in the blood), thyroid disease, stomach/intestinal problems (such as ulcer, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, unexplained diarrhea), diabetes, eye problems (such as cataracts, glaucoma), bone loss (osteoporosis), blood clots.
Using corticosteroid medications for a long time can make it more difficult for your body to respond to physical stress. Before having surgery or emergency treatment, or if you get a serious illness/injury, tell your doctor or dentist that you are using this medication or have used this medication within the past 12 months. Tell your doctor right away if you develop unusual/extreme tiredness or weight loss. If you will be using this medication for a long time, carry a warning card or medical ID bracelet that identifies your use of this medication.
Dexamethasone can make you more likely to get infections or may make current infections worse. Stay away from anyone who has an infection that may easily spread (such as chickenpox, COVID-19, measles, flu). Talk to your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
Tell your health care professional that you are using dexamethasone before having any immunizations/vaccinations. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
This medicine may cause stomach bleeding. Daily use of alcohol while using this medicine may increase your risk for stomach bleeding. Limit alcoholic beverages. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially bone loss/pain, stomach/intestinal bleeding, and mental/mood changes (such as confusion).
This medication may slow down a child's growth if used for a long time. Consult the doctor or pharmacist for more details. See the doctor regularly so your child's height and growth can be checked.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may rarely harm an unborn baby. Your doctor may order a pregnancy test before starting this medication. Women of childbearing age should ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for at least 1 month after the last dose. Infants born to mothers who have been using this medication for a long time may have hormone problems. Tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms such as nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, severe diarrhea, or weakness in your newborn.
It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug and for at least 2 weeks after the last dose is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast- feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug are: drugs that can cause bleeding/bruising (including antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen/naproxen, "blood thinners" such as warfarin/dabigatran), mifepristone.
If your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually 81-162 milligrams a day), you should continue taking it unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
This medication may interfere with certain lab tests (such as skin tests), possibly causing false test results. Make sure lab personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as blood mineral levels, blood sugar, complete blood count, bone density, blood pressure, eye exams) should be done while you are taking this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments.
This medication may cause bone problems (osteoporosis) when taken for an extended time. Lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk of bone problems include doing weight-bearing exercise, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, stopping smoking, and limiting alcohol. Discuss with your doctor lifestyle changes that might benefit you.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
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CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.