If you have arthritis or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, dexamethasone has likely been prescribed for you. It is a corticosteroid, that is, it is assimilated to the natural hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, and that is why on many occasions it is administered when there is a deficiency of these or the adrenal glands do not work properly.
However, its best known uses are to counteract some undesirable effects of chemotherapy or to treat arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory property. Despite being assimilated to the corticosteroids produced by the body, as a medicine it also has side effects and contraindications. In this FastlyHealarticle we tell you what dexamethasone is for and what its adverse effects are.
Table of Contents
What is dexamethasone
The adrenal glands in normal conditions secrete hormones, such as corticosteroids, which help in some functions of the body, such as processes that regulate inflammation , the immune system or the metabolism of carbohydrates. When this chemical is missing from the body, dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that acts similar to hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, is given. However, dexamethasone is also given for other purposes.
Specifically, dexamethasone is a glucorticoid, a hormone from the corticosteroid family that helps control carbohydrate metabolism and promotes digestion and absorption. Dexamethasone, therefore, acts in our body as if it were a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands.
What is dexamethasone for
When the body does not secrete enough corticosteroids or the adrenal glands do not work properly, dexamethasone is given. However, it also relieves inflammation, swelling, heat or pain and is therefore used to alleviate many symptoms in some diseases, ailments or before some treatments or surgeries. Below we will explain to you what are the situations in which dexamethasone is administered .
- Adrenal insufficiency and thyroiditis .
- Treat inflammations and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis .
- In cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy treatment. Dexamethasone helps alleviate some undesirable symptoms of this treatment.
- In some cases of dental surgery, such as removal of the wisdom tooth. In this case, it is supplied in small amounts before and after, to avoid or reduce inflammation of the cheeks.
- In brain tumors, it neutralizes the development of edema (accumulation of fluid) that could press other areas of the brain.
- It also helps in allergies by administering through the nose or in eye drops or even conjunctivitis.
- It helps in respiratory processes such as bronchial asthma, bronchitis or pulmonary fibrosis .
- Autoimmune diseases of the blood such as anemia or others that also affect the lymphatic system, such as leukemias or lymphomas.
- In inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease . Helps decrease nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
- Topically helps in skin lesions that need treatment with topical corticosteroids.
- Foreign bodies in bronchi and lung, Löeffler syndrome or sarcoidosis.
- It is also given to women who are at risk of preterm labor. Dexamethasone helps stimulate fetal lung maturation.
- It helps fight altitude sickness and is effective against high altitude cerebral edema or pulmonary edema.
Dexamethasone has many applications and helps to treat numerous pathologies, depending on the supply and the route that is applied, however before taking it you should consult your doctor since it also has contraindications and adverse interactions with other medications.
Before taking dexamethasone it is important to go to the doctor and he will be the one who, having made a previous diagnosis, will tell you if it is the best treatment and how to take it. It is important that your doctor knows what your clinical picture is and, for your part, it is essential that you do not leave any information in the pipeline. You will need to know if you may be pregnant, if you have ever had or have liver, kidney or bowel problems.
You should also know that dexamethasone reacts with some medications so you have to take into account if you are taking any other medication. Has interaction with:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , would increase the risk of ulcer.
- Mineralcorticoids, since it can increase the risk of hypertension or heart conditions.
- Insulin or medicines to treat diabetes.
- With some antibiotics.
Side effects of dexamethasone
Like any other drug, dexamethasone has side effects that are worth knowing. These are:
- Stomach irritation or even an upset stomach.
- Dizziness or vomiting
- Anxiety or agitation.
- Since it is a hormone, it can increase hair growth or even cause acne.
- It can also affect menstruation producing irregularities.
- Glucose tolerance worsens.
- Psychiatric disorders such as mania, irritability, or even depression.
In the event of any adverse symptoms that you witness, go to your doctor. But, in addition, you have some of the symptoms that we tell you below, you must go urgently:
- Skin rashes or even a rash.
- Inflammation of any part of the body.
- Vision problems.
- A cold that lasts longer than normal and has started dexamethasone treatment.
- Muscular weakness.
- Black stools
How to take dexamethasone
There are several ways to administer dexamethasone, the most common being the oral route . It comes in tablets with several capsules. However, for some serious or allergy cases there are also injections , in addition to the application as eye drops or through the nose , also widely used in allergic processes or conjunctivitis.
Follow the instructions indicated by the doctor or, failing that, the leaflet. As an assistant in the chemotherapy treatment, the oncologist will dictate the relevant doses since the treatment is personalized in any case.
In autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, the dose is usually long-term, taking 0.5 to 1.5 mg per day. For shock, the dose is increased, reaching up to 24 mg per day.
However, you should never exceed the doses that have been prescribed as it could increase the presence of side effects. On the other hand, you should never take dexomethasone without a prescription.
Dexamethasone should not be taken in the following cases:
- If you have a gastrointestinal ulcer.
- In Cushing’s Syndrome .
- With hypertension.
- In patients who have decompensated diabetes mellitus.
- Severe forms of heart failure
- Bacterial, viral or fungal infections of a serious nature.
- Persistent glaucoma
- Systemic tuberculosis.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to What is dexamethasone for , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.