- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Take the RA Quiz
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- What is dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- Is dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- What are the uses for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- What are the side effects of dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- What is the dosage for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
- Is dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
What is dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Dexamethasone is a synthetic (man-made) corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are naturally-occurring chemicals produced by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys. Corticosteroids affect the function of many cells within the body and suppress the immune system. Corticosteroids also block inflammation and are used in a wide variety of inflammatory diseases affecting many organs. The FDA approved dexamethasone in October 1958.
What are the uses for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
Dexamethasone is used for reducing inflammation in many conditions. Some examples include:
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- systemic lupus,
- acute gouty arthritis,
- psoriatic arthritis,
- ulcerative colitis, and
- Crohn's disease.
Severe allergic conditions that fail to respond to other treatments also may respond to dexamethasone. Examples include:
Chronic skin conditions treated with dexamethasone include:
Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of cancers of the white blood cells (leukemias), and lymph gland cancers (lymphomas). Blood diseases involving destruction by the body's own immune system of platelets are also treated with dexamethasone, disease like idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, and red blood cells (autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Other miscellaneous conditions treated with dexamethasone include thyroiditis and sarcoidosis.
Finally, dexamethasone is used as replacement therapy in patients whose adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient amounts of corticosteroids.
Many of the medical problems treated by this drug are “off label”; that is, its use is not sanctioned or approved by the FDA.
What are the side effects of dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
Side effects of dexamethasone depend on the dose, the duration and the frequency of administration. Short courses of dexamethasone usually are well tolerated with few and mild side effects. Long term, high dose dexamethasone usually will produce predictable and potentially serious side effects. Whenever possible, the lowest effective dose of dexamethasone should be used for the shortest possible length of time to minimize side effects. Alternate day dosing also can help reduce side effects.
Side effects of dexamethasone and other corticosteroids range from mild annoyances to serious irreversible damage. Side effects include:
- fluid retention,
- weight gain,
- high blood pressure,
- loss of potassium,
- increase in serum glucose levels (especially in diabetics),
- muscle weakness,
- puffiness of and hair growth on the face,
- thinning and easy bruising of skin,
- peptic ulceration,
- worsening of diabetes,
Other side effects include:
- irregular menses,
- growth retardation in children,
- convulsions, and
- psychic disturbances.
Psychic disturbances include:
Prolonged use of dexamethasone can depress the ability of body's adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. Abruptly stopping dexamethasone in these individuals can cause symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, with accompanying nausea, vomiting, and even shock. Therefore, withdrawal of dexamethasone usually is accomplished by gradually reducing the dose. Gradually tapering dexamethasone not only minimizes the symptoms of corticosteroid insufficiency, but also reduces the risk of an abrupt flare of the disease under treatment.
Dexamethasone and other corticosteroids can mask signs of infection and impair the body's natural immune response that is important in fighting infection. Patients on corticosteroids are more susceptible to infections and can develop more serious infections than individuals not receiving corticosteroids. For example, chickenpox and measles viruses can produce serious and even fatal illnesses in patients on high doses of dexamethasone. Live virus vaccines, such as smallpox vaccine, should be avoided in patients taking high doses of dexamethasone, since even vaccine viruses may cause disease in these patients. Some infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, can remain dormant in a patient for years. Dexamethasone and other corticosteroids can reactivate dormant infections. Patients with dormant tuberculosis may require treatment of the TB while undergoing corticosteroid treatment.
By interfering with the patient's immune response, dexamethasone can impede the effectiveness of vaccinations. Dexamethasone can also interfere with the tuberculin (TB) skin test and cause falsely negative results in patients with dormant tuberculosis infection.
Dexamethasone impairs calcium absorption and new bone formation. Patients on prolonged treatment with dexamethasone and other corticosteroids can develop osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fractures. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D are encouraged to slow this process of bone thinning. It has been demonstrated in some groups of patients treated with steroids that the loss of bone may be prevented by treatment with biphosphonate drugs, for example, alendronate (Fosamax).
In rare individuals, destruction of large joints can occur while undergoing treatment with dexamethasone or other corticosteroids. These patients experience severe pain in the involved joints, and can require joint replacements. The reason behind such destruction is not clear.
What is the dosage for dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
Dosage requirements of corticosteroids vary greatly among individuals and the diseases being treated. In general, the lowest possible effective dose is used. The initial oral dose is 0.75 mg to 9 mg daily depending on the disease. The initial dose should be adjusted based on response. Corticosteroids given in multiple doses (2 to 4 times daily) throughout the day are more effective but also are more toxic as compared with the same total daily dose given once daily, or every other day.
Which drugs or supplements interact with dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
Corticosteroids may increase or decrease the effect of blood thinners, for example, warfarin (Coumadin). Blood clotting should be monitored and the dose of blood thinner adjusted in order to achieve the desired level of blood thinning when patients receiving blood thinners are begun on corticosteroids, including dexamethasone.
Phenobarbital, ephedrine, phenytoin (Dilantin), and rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane) may increase the breakdown of corticosteroids by the liver, resulting in lower blood levels and reduced effects. Therefore, the dose of corticosteroid may need to be increased if treatment with any of these agents is begun.
Mifepristone may reduce the action of corticosteroids via unknown mechanisms. Dexamethasone may decrease blood levels of mifepristone. Mifepristone should not be combined with steroids.
Is dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
INFORMATION Use of dexamethasone in pregnant women has not been adequately studied. When corticosteroids are given systemically (orally, intramuscularly, or intravenously) to pregnant animals fetal abnormalities occurred.
Dexamethasone has not been adequately evaluated in nursing mothers. Corticosteroids appear in breast milk and may cause side effects in infants.
What else should I know about dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak?
What preparations of dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak are available?
Tablets: 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, 2, 4, and 6 mg. Elixir/Solution: 0.5 mg /5 mL. Oral Concentrate: 1 mg/ml and for injection (IV, IM, intra-articular, intralesional or into tissue), 4mg/ml and 10mg/ml.
How should I keep dexamethasone-decadron-dexpak stored?
Dexamethasone should be stored at 20 C - 25 C (68 F - 77 F) and not frozen.
Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment
Dexamethasone oral (Decadron, DexPak) is a drug prescribed to reduce inflammation in many conditions, including:
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- systemic lupus,
- acute gouty arthritis,
- psoriatic arthritis,
- ulcerative colitis, and
- Crohn's disease.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Gout Quiz: What is Gout? Is There a Gout Diet?
Learn what causes those painful crystals to form during a gout flare. Take the Gout Quiz to learn all about this painful...
Rheumatoid Arthritis Quiz: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
How is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid...
Picture of Acute Systemic Lupus
Acute systemic lupus erythematosus. See a picture of Acute Systemic Lupus and learn more about the health topic....
Related Disease Conditions
Colitis (Symptoms, Types, and Treatments)
Colitis refers to inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Symptoms of the inflammation of the colon lining include...
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (vocal cords). The most common cause of acute laryngitis is infection, which...
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly...
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin...
Gout (Gouty Arthritis)
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and...
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints,...
Crohn's Disease (Symptoms, Causes, Diet, Treatment, Life Expectancy)
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect...
Eczema refers to skin inflammation. There are many different types of eczema that produce symptoms and signs that range from...
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases resulting from abnormal deposition of certain proteins (amyloids) in various bodily areas. The...
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding....
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, a vital part of the body's immune system. Symptoms and signs include...
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....
Sarcoidosis, a disease resulting from chronic inflammation, causes small lumps (granulomas) to develop in a great range of body...
Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms include painful, stiff, and swollen joints,...
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an irritation of the nose caused by pollen and is associated with the following allergic...
Eye allergy (or allergic eye disease) are typically associated with hay fever and atopic dermatitis. Medications and cosmetics...
Cushing's syndrome, sometimes referred to as hypercortisolism, is a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure to high levels...
Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland. The inflamed thyroid gland can release an excess of thyroid hormones into...
There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control with anti-inflammatory drugs and quick relief from bronchodilators....
Asthma in Children
Asthma in children manifests with symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Rates of asthma in children are increasing. Asthma in...
There are many unusual symptoms of asthma, including sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, chronic cough, recurrent walking...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Gout FAQs
- Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQs
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.