Common Side Effects of Dexamethasone

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Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication (glucocorticoid) that can also be seen as a man-made version of the corticosteroid hormones; cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones are produced naturally by the adrenal glands present in the human body. However, keep in mind the fact that although these substances are termed as “steroids,” they shouldn't be confused with the steroids that are taken by athletes and bodybuilders.
Dexamethasone is primarily used in the treatment of various conditions that an individual might develop. These conditions include arthritis, blood, hormone, or immune system problems, developing allergic reactions, developing certain types of eye and skin problems, breathing issues, certain bowel issues, and even certain types of cancers. Apart from this, this particular medicine is also used as a test for adrenal gland disorder; Cushing’s syndrome.
This particular medicine basically lowers your body’s natural defense response and thus, reduces the chances of developing different symptoms, such as swelling or allergic reactions.


How does Dexamethasone work?

Corticosteroids play a very vital role in the human body. They affect the different organs present in the human body in very important ways. If the human body has decreased levels of natural defensive steroid hormones, then replacement therapy must be administered. This particular problem may arise if the adrenal glands present in our body are not producing sufficient hormones. Dexamethasone comes into play here as this particular medicine is used as an alternative therapy treatment to treat a certain type of adrenal glands disorder, known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
In this particular disorder, individuals lack the enzyme that is needed by the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and aldosterone. Without these steroids, the adrenal glands start to produce male hormones in the body at a larger degree. This leads to a person developing many male characteristics. Thus, taking Dexamethasone aids in bringing the hormone levels to the normal range.
Dexamethasone also prevents the cells from producing chemicals that cause inflammation and allergic reactions in our bodies. Thus, this then aids in controlling excess inflammation in the human body, inflammation of the joints in arthritis, and other allergic reactions.
Dexamethasone is also responsible for treating autoimmune diseases and certain types of cancers as it reduces white blood cell count in the body. This thus, also helps the body fight against its own harmful tissues.


What are the side effects of Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a medication that is usually available to you through a doctor’s prescription. Although it has its benefits, some common side effects associated with this particular medicine are:
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Menstrual changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
Although these common side effects do exist, not many people may experience them. However, if you do, be sure to contact your doctor immediately. One should also not forget the fact that your doctor has prescribed this particular medicine to you because the benefits to you outweigh the side effects of this particular medicine. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience any of these serious but rare side effects:
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Fast, slow or irregular heartbeats
  • Eye pain
  • Vision problems
  • Heartburn
  • Black stool
  • Vomit that resembles coffee grounds
  • Puffy face
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Bleeding
  • Pain, redness or swelling of arms and/or legs
  • Thinning skin
  • Seizures


However, some of these side effects may not reach their “serious” stage as most people do not tend to experience these side effects associated with taking Dexamethasone and even if these side effects occur, they may start at a small intensity and disappear with time. This is mostly when you start to adjust with the medicine. A serious allergic reaction is rare with taking Dexamethasone. However, if you experience any of these side effects, contact your doctor.
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of either the face, tongue and/or throat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing


Important Information

Apart from developing a serious allergic reaction, some other side effects associated with taking Dexamethasone have also been reported. Although these are rare, but if they occur, their severity is high. Some of these side effects include:
  • Rupture in wall of stomach
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Acute inflammation of pancreas
  • Anemia
  • Broken bone
  • Cataracts
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Delirium
  • Disorder of nerve
  • Enlarged liver
  • Fat embolism
  • Fluid in lungs
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Paranoia
  • Ruptured tendon    


How to use Dexamethasone?

Take Dexamethasone orally as the dosage has been prescribed by your doctor. You should take Dexamethasone with your meal or a glass of water or any liquid to prevent diarrhea. If you are consuming Dexamethasone in syrup form, measure the dosage with a measuring spoon. Do not use a household spoon.
If your doctor has prescribed you Dexamethasone one daily dose, it is recommended that you take it before 9 in the morning. If you are taking it every other day, then set a reminder for yourself.
Also, it is recommended that for best results of this particular medicine, take it every day at the same time. Follow the schedule prepared by your doctor carefully and do not stop taking the medicine on your own.


Precautions You Must Take

Tell your doctor if you have an allergic reaction to Dexamethasone or any of its ingredients. Also, inform your health practitioner if you are pregnant or breastfeeding when taking Dexamethasone. Tell your doctor your medical history including infections, kidney disease, liver disease, mood disorders, low blood minerals, heart problems, diabetes, eye problems, brittle bones, and history of blood clots. Report any infections. Do not take vaccinations or immunizations. Avoid people who have taken polio vaccination and people who have chickenpox or measles. Limit alcoholic drinks. Avoid driving and using machinery. Keep a very close check on your blood sugar levels.
Tagged under Corticosteroids