What is this medication?
Systemic Corticosteroid; Anti-inflammatory; Antiemetic
Dexamethasone/Decadron/Dexasone is used for many autoimmune or other inflammatory conditions as well as for some forms of nausea. Some examples include acute mountain sickness (off-label), adrenal insufficiency, chemotherapy associated nausea (off-label), acute asthma exacerbation (off-label), cerebral edema associated with brain tumor, with antibiotics for bacterial meningitis (off-label), or multiple myeloma (off-label) (may be used for conditions not listed).
How does this medication work?
Dexamethasone/Decadron/Dexasone reduces neutrophil migration to the affected area and reverses the dilation and blood vessel permeability from the inflammatory response resulting in decreased access of cells to the site. It also reduces lymphatic flow to the area which reduces immune activity. At higher dosages it may reduce adrenal function. Mechanism for antiemetic effects is unknown. It is a long acting corticosteroid with minimal sodium-retaining potential.
How should I take this medication?
Oral: 4-20mg daily (usually once daily but can be divided). Due to the vast range of conditions dexamethasone may be used for, the dosage regimen can vary greatly and is individualized to patient needs. It is common to require a slow tapering schedule to avoid Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) Axis suppression, the details of which would depend on how long the medication has been used and which dosages were given.
How to Take: Follow instructions provided by physician/pharmacy label, take consistently at same times each day unless otherwise directed, store at room temperature, ideally taken early in the day to avoid insomnia. Taken after food or milk to reduce gastrointestinal upset.
You Need to Avoid: Do not skip follow up appointments or put off bloodwork requisitioned by your physician as this is how you are monitored for adverse effects to help avoid any serious reactions. Do not stop this medication in the middle of a taper, complete it as prescribed to avoid adrenal suppression.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Before starting Dexamethasone/Decadron/Dexasone make sure your physician is aware of any allergies, medications you currently take, knows your medical background and current/past medical conditions, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Bloodwork will likely be required before initiating this medication for long term use.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of medication, try to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, take only that scheduled dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
How should I store this medication?
Keep out of the reach of children at all times. Store at room temperature, 59 to 86° F (15 to 30° C). Protect from light. Keep the container tightly closed. Properly dispose of any unused medication after the expiration date.
What are the possible side effects of using this medication?
Dexamethasone has many detrimental long-term side effects that are dosage dependent. Short term use generally only warrants mention of potential for upset stomach, and sleep disturbances.
Long term effects can include infection, emotional lability, psychiatric disturbances, hypertension, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes mellitus, fluid retention, growth suppression (children), peptic ulcer, esophagitis, increased liver enzymes, osteoporosis, glaucoma, wound healing impairment etc.
Note this is not a complete list of side effects.
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