Dexamethasone belongs to the class of drugs known as corticosteroid which is known to help prevent inflammation due to different kinds of medical issues.
This medicine is widely used to treat diseases such as arthritis, disorders of the blood, hormone, bowel or the immune system, eye or skin conditions, lupus, psoriasis, allergic reactions, and even certain types of cancers. Dexamethasone has also been found helpful for the disorder of the adrenal gland known as Cushing’s syndrome.
Common side effects of dexamethasone
Although severe side effects of this medicine are rare, there have been instances of such effects on a few users. The major side effects of dexamethasone are mentioned below and will require immediate medical attention.
Major side effects
- Slowing heart rate and weak pulse
- Muscle tightness
- Weakness and limping
- Severe depression accompanied with unusual thoughts and behavior
- Rapid weight gain
- Seizures or convulsions
- Black, tarry stools
- Coughing up blood
- Increased blood pressure that may cause blurred vision, a severe headache, anxiety, and nosebleeds
Pancreatitis that may cause constipation, leg cramps, rapid or thumping heartbeat, increased need to urinate as well as thirst, numbness and tingling on the skin.
There are minor side effects of this drug too, but these are temporary and tend to go away once treatment is completed. It is possible you might not even experience any side effects at all.
Minor side effects
- Fluid retention
- A headache
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Mood swings
- Upset stomach
- Acne and increased hair growth
- Skin rash, discoloration or bruising
- Increased appetite
- Increased sweating
These side effects are mild and are fairly common among users. They are not dangerous and do not require you to consult a doctor. However, if you notice these signs aggravating, see a doctor at once.
How to use dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a medicinal drug and should only be taken with a doctor’s recommendation. The tablet must be taken orally with a full glass of water. It is recommended to take this medicine without food, but if you suffer from an upset stomach, you may take it with food or a glass of milk. You may also choose to follow your doctor’s directions. The dosage may vary according to the patient’s medical health, weight, and age. If you are directed one tablet per day, it will be helpful to take the medicine early in the morning. It is important to swallow the tablet as a whole and not chew, break or bite it as this may increase the side effects.
In case you are using the liquid form of this medication, make sure to measure the dosage with a measuring device accurately. Do not alter dosages or overdose as it may lead to serious, potentially fatal, side effects. Take dexamethasone regularly as per your doctor’s recommendation for the best of results.
- Do not use dexamethasone if you are allergic to it or suffer from a fungal infection on any part of your body.
- Inform your doctor if you have malaria, TB, glaucoma, osteoporosis, depression, hypertension, liver or kidney diseases, diabetes, herpes, stomach ulcers, IBS, myasthenia gravis, thyroid disorder or congestive heart diseases.
- May make you dizzy; do not engage in activities that require complete attention such as driving and operating machinery until fully alert.
- Get up from a lying or a sitting position slowly to avoid falling over due to being dizzy.
- Avoid alcohol consumption when taking this medicine as it may increase the risks of side effects
- May cause slow growth in children, make sure to monitor your child’s growth carefully
- This medicine may cause a suppressed immune system; therefore, do not get a vaccine or shots during the period of treatment.
- Pregnant women should not use this medicine without a doctor’s recommendation.
- Breastfeeding women should not use this medicine as it passes through breast milk and may harm the nursing child.
- Do not stop using dexamethasone suddenly as it may lead to serious withdrawal symptoms; your doctor will gradually reduce the dosage until you no longer need it.