Guide To Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a prescription medicine. It reduces inflammation. Patients can take this medication as a tablet or liquid, though it may also be prescribed intravenously. Eye drops of this medication are used to treat eye conditions. A topical form is available for some skin conditions. Muscle weakness, increased appetite, insomnia, and heartburn are some of the most common side effects of this medicine. Patients are closely monitored during treatment. They should let their doctor know immediately if they develop signs of infection, including chills or a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Many individuals take a dexamethasone pill as an arthritis treatment.  Of course, a dexamethasone tablet may also help as a treatment for ulcerative colitis. Some patients may use it as a topical medication for eczema or other skin conditions. Ultimately, however, patients must understand how this medication works before determining if it is the best treatment for their needs.

How It Works 

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Dexamethasone is part of a group of medicines called glucocorticosteroids. These medicines weaken the immune system and decrease inflammation. The medication reduces inflammation by stopping polymorphonuclear leukocytes (white blood cells) from reaching the inflamed area. White blood cells combat infection. Since dexamethasone blocks their normal action, patients are more susceptible to infection while taking this medication. It helps patients with adrenal insufficiency too. Patients with this condition have lower levels of the hormones released by the adrenal gland, and dexamethasone replaces them. Scientists believe that this medication may also work by causing certain cells to die. 

Continue reading to learn about the uses and benefits of this medication next.

Uses And Benefits 

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Dexamethasone is used to treat several types of arthritis. This includes rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout. It helps calm flares in patients with multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and myasthenia gravis. This medication may be prescribed to treat eczema, severe psoriasis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and other skin conditions as well. Patients who need to have chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment may be given this medication before beginning their chemotherapy. It reduces the inflammation and side effects that may develop while undergoing chemotherapy. 

This drug is also used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. It can reduce the swelling that occurs with brain and spinal cord tumors as well. In addition, doctors routinely prescribe dexamethasone to treat eye inflammation, allergic reactions, and conditions that cause breathing difficulties. 

Reveal the potential side effects of this medication next.

Potential Side Effects 

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Headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and mood changes are some of the more frequently reported side effects of this medication. During treatment, patients may feel anxious, and they could be irritable, aggressive, or agitated as well. Some individuals may experience symptoms of depression. Trouble with speech, thinking, and walking could also occur. Weight gain is another potential side effect. Some patients will also notice dizziness and decreased urination. Patients may feel that their heartbeat is slower or faster than what is normal for them. They could develop an irregular heart rhythm as well. The arms and legs may feel numb or tingly, and the feet and hands could swell. It is relatively common to have an increased appetite during treatment. Patients should let their doctor know immediately if they experience any of these effects. 

Less common side effects are abdominal swelling and pain, backache, eye pain, and skin lightening. The face may become red, and hair loss could occur. While using dexamethasone, patients should talk with their doctor about any side effects that are persistent or troublesome. They may suggest ways to manage the side effects, including changing the dose or switching to a different medication. 

Discover the precautions to remember with this drug next.

Precautions To Remember 

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Individuals with fungal infections should not use dexamethasone. Before prescribing this medicine, the doctor needs to know about the patient's medical history. In particular, patients should mention any history of liver disease, thyroid issues, diabetes, malaria, or osteoporosis. This medication could increase the patient's glucose levels, so doctors may need to prescribe a different medicine for individuals with diabetes. Additionally, patients should let their doctor know about any history of high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, congestive heart failure, or depression. This drug suppresses the immune system. Thus, patients who take it are at a higher risk of developing infections. 

When they are taking this medication, individuals should contact their prescribing physician immediately if they believe they have been exposed to measles or chickenpox. Urgent treatment may be necessary to prevent serious complications. Patients who take dexamethasone should not receive any vaccines that contain live viruses. They should also be aware that the drug could reduce the amount of protection they get from vaccines. Individuals who want to stop taking this medication should talk to a doctor about how to safely do so. Patients could experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking this medicine. 

Get the details on the potential medication interactions next.

Potential Medication Interactions 

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Dexamethasone has potential medication interactions with more than 650 drugs, with over one hundred of these being major ones. Thus, patients should let their doctor know about all prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements they use. Pharmacists should check for potential interactions before dispensing this medication. Patients should also make sure that their doctor always has an updated list of their current medicines. This helps them reduce the risk of potential interactions. 

This drug interacts with aldesleukin and other cancer medicines. Examples of these include rilpivirine, praziquantel, dasatinib, and lapatinib. Ideally, patients should not take it with the first two. Additionally, this medication reduces the effectiveness of both lapatinib and dasatinib. If patients must take it with either one, they may need to have their doses adjusted. They may also need to be monitored more closely. Dexamethasone interacts with antiplatelets, anticoagulants, and certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen. Individuals who take a daily Aspirin should ask their doctor if they need to discontinue it while taking dexamethasone. 

Emily Fowler