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What Is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a synthetic corticosteroid with immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the release of substances in the blood that cause pain, edema (swelling), and redness in the body. These reactions are usually caused due to severe infections or in cases of auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, kidney disorders, and other skin allergies. It is also used in testing Cushing’s syndrome. Dexamethasone should be avoided entirely in cases of pregnancy, hypertension, and diabetes.

What Are the Uses of Dexamethasone?

  • It is used to treat auto-immune disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, skin diseases, and post-eye surgery.
  • It is used as an anti-allergic drug in cases of asthma, anaphylactic shock, and bronchospasm.
  • It is used to quicken the labor process during childbirth.
  • It is also used to treat certain types of blood cancers like leukemia, multiple myeloma, etc.
  • Recently it has been used for improving the outcomes in respiratory distress among Covid-19 patients.
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What Are the Side Effects of Dexamethasone?

The body easily tolerates Dexamethasone, but in some cases, it may trigger some reactions like:

  • Stomach-related issues, e.g., nausea and vomiting.
  • Fungal infections like candidiasis (oral thrush).
  • Long-term use of Dexamethasone leads to eye infections like cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Hypertension.
  • Weight gain.
  • Increased sodium and low potassium levels in the body.
  • Mental issues like irritability, confusion, depression, and sleep problems like insomnia.
  • It has been known to cause Cushing’s syndrome.

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FAQ's

1. How to take Dexamethasone?

Take it as prescribed by the doctor. Do not take Dexamethasone without any medical consultation. Dexamethasone comes in various forms like an oral tablet and solution, in injectable form, and for eye infections as topical drops. The dosage depends on the age and disease of the patient.

2. How does Dexamethasone work?

Dexamethasone works by reducing the effects of inflammatory chemicals released when there is an infection in the body. Sometimes, our bodies overproduce these chemicals, targeting the body's normal cells, doing more harm than good. Dexamethasone suppresses the overreaction of those chemicals, thus protecting the body from damage.

3. What does Dexamethasone do to the body?

Dexamethasone reduces the swelling, redness, and pain caused by the body's inflammatory response when your body is attacked with unnatural triggers like bacteria, viruses, etc. This makes it a perfect drug in severe allergic reactions, asthma, psoriasis, and post-surgical swelling cases.

4. How long does Dexamethasone stay in your body?

Dexamethasone is a long-acting drug and stays for 5-11 hours inside the blood, depending upon the preparation of the drug taken. Dexamethasone can harm an unborn fetus if taken during gestation. Therefore, if you plan to get pregnant, you have to stop taking Dexamethasone a month before.

5. Is Dexamethasone effective for treating COVID-19?

Dexamethasone has proven efficacy in only preventing deaths among ventilated patients with severe respiratory distress like Covid-19. However, it doesn't affect mild cases of Covid-19. Thus people who are not ventilated and have just mild symptoms without respiratory arrest should not use Dexamethasone on their own.

6. Can diabetics take Dexamethasone?

No. Diabetic patients are not advised to take Dexamethasone. Dexamethasone is known to suddenly increase the blood sugar level, causing hyperglycemia among people with diabetes, and can cause steroid-induced diabetes in previously undiagnosed patients. In case anyone wants to use Dexamethasone due to some medical emergency, one should consult an endocrinologist.

7. Can you take Dexamethasone if you are allergic to Prednisolone?

No, both Prednisolone and Dexamethasone are the same class of steroids. If you are allergic to one type of corticosteroid, the chances are you may be allergic to another also. If there is a need to take Dexamethasone, talk to your physician.

8. Why is Dexamethasone given before chemo?

Dexamethasone as an immuno-suppressant is used as an adjunct therapy to counter the unwanted effects of chemo drugs like stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, etc., among cancer patients. It is also used to treat certain types of cancers like leukemia, multiple myeloma, etc.

9. Why do we use Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is used to reduce inflammation due to infections, allergies, and in cases of immunocompromised conditions like asthma, lupus, arthritis, etc. It is also used to counter the undesirable effects of chemo drugs like nausea and vomiting.

10. How to sleep while taking Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone causes sleeplessness in patients as it interferes with sleeping patterns by giving instant energy after its ingestion. Hence it is better to take Dexamethasone in the morning and altogether avoid it after 5 PM. If the sleep issue persists, talk to your doctor.
Consult our experts for more detailed information and address all your queries.

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