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Dexamethasone

Last reviewed on RxList: 11/25/2020
Dexamethasone Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

What Is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid indicated for allergic states, dermatologic diseases, endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, hematologic disorders, neoplastic diseases, nervous system, ophthalmic diseases, renal diseases, respiratory diseases, and rheumatic disorders. Dexamethasone is available as a generic.

What Are Side Effects of Dexamethasone?

Side effects of dexamethasone include:

  • vision changes,
  • swelling,
  • rapid weight gain,
  • sleep problems (insomnia),
  • mood changes,
  • acne,
  • dry skin,
  • thinning skin,
  • bruising or discoloration,
  • slow wound healing,
  • increased sweating,
  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • spinning sensation,
  • nausea,
  • stomach pain,
  • bloating,
  • muscle weakness, or
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

Rare instances of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have occurred in patients receiving corticosteroid therapy such as dexamethasone.

Dosage for Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone Tablets are available in 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, 2, 4 and 6 mg strengths. The initial dosage for Dexamethasone varies from .75 to 9 mg a day depending on the disease being treated.

Dexamethasone During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Infants born to mothers who have received substantial doses of corticosteroids during pregnancy should be carefully observed for signs of hypoadrenalism. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from corticosteroids, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother. Use in pediatric patients is recommended to be done in consultation with a pediatric specialist.

Additional Information

Our Dexamethasone Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Dexamethasone Consumer Information

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • muscle tightness, weakness, or limp feeling;
  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
  • shortness of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • severe depression, unusual thoughts or behavior;
  • a seizure (convulsions);
  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;
  • fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse;
  • pancreatitis--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting;
  • low potassium level--leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination, numbness or tingling; or
  • increased blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, anxiety, nosebleed.

Dexamethasone can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • fluid retention (swelling in your hands or ankles);
  • increased appetite;
  • mood changes, trouble sleeping;
  • skin rash, bruising or discoloration;
  • acne, increased sweating, increased hair growth;
  • headache, dizziness;
  • nausea, vomiting, upset stomach;
  • changes in your menstrual periods; or
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Dexamethasone (Dexamethasone)

QUESTION

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer
Dexamethasone Professional Information

SIDE EFFECTS

(listed alphabetically, under each subsection)

The following adverse reactions have been reported with dexamethasone or other corticosteroids:

Allergic Reactions

Anaphylactoid reaction, anaphylaxis, angioedema.

Cardiovascular

Bradycardia, cardiac arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac enlargement, circulatory collapse, congestive heart failure, fat embolism, hypertension, hyper-trophic cardiomyopathy in premature infants, myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction (see WARNINGS: Cardio-Renal), edema, pulmonary edema, syncope, tachycardia, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis.

Dermatologic

Acne, allergic dermatitis, dry scaly skin, ecchymoses and petechiae, erythema, impaired wound healing, increased sweating, rash, striae, suppression of reactions to skin tests, thin fragile skin, thinning scalp hair, urticaria.

Endocrine

Decreased carbohydrate and glucose tolerance, development of cushingoid state, hyperglycemia, glycosuria, hirsutism, hypertrichosis, increased requirements for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetes, manifestations of latent diabetes mellitus, menstrual irregularities, secondary adrenocor-tical and pituitary unresponsiveness (particularly in times of stress, as in trauma, surgery, or illness), suppression of growth in pediatric patients.

Fluid and Electrolyte Disturbances

Congestive heart failure in susceptible patients, fluid retention, hypokalemic alkalosis, potassium loss, sodium retention.

Gastrointestinal

Abdominal distention, elevation in serum liver enzyme levels (usually reversible upon discontinuation), hepatomegaly, increased appetite, nausea, pan-creatitis, peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage, perforation of the small and large intestine (particularly in patients with inflammatory bowel disease), ulcerative esophagitis.

Metabolic

Negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism.

Musculoskeletal

Aseptic necrosis of femoral and humeral heads, loss of muscle mass, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, pathologic fracture of long bones, steroid myopathy, tendon rupture, vertebral compression fractures.

Neurological/Psychiatric

Convulsions, depression, emotional instability, euphoria, headache, increased intracranial pressure with papilledema (pseudotumor cerebri) usually following discontinuation of treatment, insomnia, mood swings, neuritis, neuropathy, paresthesia, personality changes, psychic disorders, vertigo.

Ophthalmic

Exophthalmos, glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure, posterior subcapsular cataracts.

Other

Abnormal fat deposits, decreased resistance to infection, hiccups, increased or decreased motility and number of spermatozoa, malaise, moon face, weight gain.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Dexamethasone (Dexamethasone)

Related Resources for Dexamethasone

© Dexamethasone Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Dexamethasone Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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