Table of Contents > Drug > Dexamethasone (Systemic) Print

Dexamethasone (Systemic)


Related terms
Author information


    Related terms
    • Brand Names: U.S.: BaycadronT;Decadron® [DSC];Dexamethasone IntensolT;DexPak® 10 Day TaperPak®;DexPak® 13 Day TaperPak®;DexPak® 6 Day TaperPak®
    • Brand Names: Canada: Apo-Dexamethasone®;Dexasone®;Dom-Dexamethasone;PHL-Dexamethasone;PMS-Dexamethasone;PRO-Dexamethasone;ratio-Dexamethasone

    • It is used to add adrenal hormone to the body.
    • It is used to ease allergy signs.
    • It is used to treat Addison's disease.
    • It is used to treat arthritis.
    • It is used to treat asthma.
    • It is used to treat brain swelling.
    • It is used to treat COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
    • It is used to treat swelling from autoimmune diseases.
    • It is used to treat swelling in parts of the body.
    • It is used to treat leukemia.
    • It is used to treat lymphoma.
    • It is used to treat organ transplant.
    • It is used to treat sarcoidosis.
    • It is used to treat skin rashes.
    • It is used to treat spinal cord injuries.
    • It is used to treat ulcerative colitis.
    • It is used to stop or treat upset stomach and throwing up.
    • It is used to stop or treat mountain sickness.
    • Dexamethasone replaces a chemical made in the body.
    • It stops or lowers irritation and swelling.
    • It lowers or stops the body's reaction to the allergen.
    • It lowers the body's harmful response to diseases of the immune system.


    How to take

    • Oral:
    • Take in the morning if taking once a day.
    • Take with food to stop an upset stomach.
    • There is a liquid if you cannot swallow pills.
    • Those who have feeding tubes may also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after this drug is given.
    • Take calcium and vitamin D as you were told by your doctor.
    • Shot:
    • It is given as a shot into a muscle or vein.

    Missed Dose

    • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
    • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
    • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
    • Do not change the dose or stop this drug. Talk with the doctor.


    • Store at room temperature.
    • Protect tablets from water. Do not store in a bathroom or kitchen.
    • The shot will be given to you in a hospital or doctor's office. You will not store it at home.



    • Sometimes drugs are not safe when you take them with certain other drugs. Taking them together can cause bad side effects. This is one of those drugs. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all the drugs you take.


    • If you have an allergy to dexamethasone or any other part of this drug.
    • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs. Make sure to tell about the allergy and what signs you had. This includes telling about rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
    • If you have any of these health problems: Malaria infection in the brain or bad yeast infection.


    • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
    • If you have been taking this drug for many weeks, talk with your doctor before stopping. You may want to slowly stop this drug.
    • Wear disease medical alert ID (identification).
    • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use with this drug may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
    • Do not run out of this drug.
    • Avoid being near anyone with chickenpox or measles.
    • Do not take antacids within 2 hours of this drug.
    • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), talk with your doctor. This drug may raise blood sugar.
    • Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
    • If you have glaucoma or cataracts, talk with your doctor.
    • If you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor.
    • If you are being treated for any infection, talk with your doctor.
    • If you have soft, brittle bones (osteoporosis), talk with your doctor.
    • If you have stomach ulcers, talk with your doctor.
    • If you have TB (tuberculosis), talk with your doctor.
    • If you have a weak heart, talk with your doctor.
    • Check all drugs you are taking with your doctor. This drug may not mix well with some other drugs.
    • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.
    • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding.
    • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other doctors that you use this drug.
    • Avoid beer, wine, or mixed drinks.

    Side Effects

    • High blood sugar may cause diabetes while on this drug. This most often goes back to normal when this drug is stopped.
    • Chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
    • Belly pain.
    • Upset stomach or throwing up. Many small meals, good mouth care, sucking hard, sugar-free candy, or chewing sugar-free gum may help.
    • Mood changes.
    • Weight gain.
    • Change in body fat.
    • Weak bones with long-term use.
    • Muscle weakness.
    • Skin changes (pimples, stretch marks, slow healing, hair growth).
    • Cataracts or glaucoma with long-term use.
    • For women, vaginal yeast infection. Report itching or discharge.

    Contact a healthcare provider

    • If you think there was an overdose, call your local poison control center or ER right away.
    • Signs of a very bad reaction to the drug. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue or gray skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
    • Signs of infection. These include a fever of 100.5°F (38°C) or higher, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, or anal itching or pain.
    • Feeling very tired, weak, or touchy; trembling; having a fast heartbeat, confusion, sweating, or dizziness if you missed a dose or recently stopped this drug.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Very upset stomach or throwing up.
    • A big weight gain.
    • Sudden change in eyesight, eye pain, or irritation.
    • If you have been exposed to chickenpox and have not had chickenpox or had a chickenpox vaccine.
    • Any rash.
    • Side effect or health problem is not better or you are feeling worse.

    General Statements

    • If you have a very bad allergy, wear an allergy ID at all times.
    • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
    • Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
    • Most drugs may be thrown away in household trash after mixing with coffee grounds or kitty litter and sealing in a plastic bag.
    • In Canada, take any unused drugs to the pharmacy. Also, visit to learn about the right way to get rid of unused drugs.
    • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
    • Call your doctor for help with any side effects. If in the U.S., you may also call the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or if in Canada, you may also call Health Canada's Vigilance Program at 1-866-234-2345.
    • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including OTC, natural products, or vitamins.

    Author information
    • Copyright © 1978-2013 Lexi-Comp Inc. All rights reserved.

    Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

    The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.