General Practice 2022

Dexamethasone: what it is for, how to use it and side effects

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Dexamethasone: what it is for, how to use it and side effects
Dexamethasone: what it is for, how to use it and side effects

Dexamethasone is a steroid with potent anti-inflammatory action, widely used to treat different types of allergies or inflammatory problems in the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, severe asthma or urticaria, for example.

This medication can be purchased in pharmacies or drugstores, but only with a prescription, in various presentations, such as tablets, elixir, injectable solution, dermatological cream or eye drops, with trade names such as Decadron, Duo-decadron, Cortitop, Dexason, Maxidex.

Dexamethasone should be used with medical indication, which should prescribe the best presentation to be used, according to the location and type of disease to be treated.

What is it for

Dexamethasone is indicated to treat a variety of acute or chronic allergic and inflammatory conditions, including rheumatic, skin, eye, glandular, pulmonary, blood, or gastrointestinal disorders.

Intravenous and intramuscular injections are advised in acute illnesses. After the acute phase is over, the injectable should be replaced, if possible, with treatment with corticosteroid tablets.

How to use

The way dexamethasone is used and its dosage can vary greatly, depending on the problem to be treated, the person's age and other factors in the he alth history:

1. Dexamethasone tablets or elixir

Dexamethasone tablet or elixir should be taken orally, at the times established by the doctor.

The starting dose of dexamethasone for adults ranges from 0.75 to 15 mg per day, depending on the disease being treated, its severity and the response of each person. The dose should be reduced gradually over the course of the treatment if it lasts for several days.

For children, the doses must be calculated by the pediatrician, according to the disease to be treated.

Dexamethasone in tablet form can be found in doses of 0.5 mg, 0.75 mg or 4 mg, and the elixir in a concentration of 0.5 mg/5 mL.

2. Injectable dexamethasone

The starting dose of injectable dexamethasone is usually 0.5 to 20 mg daily applied directly into a vein or muscle by a he althcare professional, depending on the condition being treated.

3. Dexamethasone eye drops

Dexamethasone in the form of eye drops should only be used in the affected eye. It is important to shake the eye drops bottle before use.

The dose generally recommended for adults is 1 or 2 drops of eye drops, which can be administered every 1 hour in more severe cases or 4 to 6 times a day in milder cases, as directed by the ophthalmologist. The dose of dexamethasone eye drops should be reduced little by little, according to the response to treatment, under medical supervision.

Dexamethasone eye drops can be found in the form of an ophthalmic suspension at a dose of 1.0 mg/mL.

4. Dexamethasone ointment

Dexamethasone ointment, also known as dermatological cream, should be used on the skin, always at the times established by the doctor. It is recommended to wash your hands and the skin to be treated with water and neutral soap, drying well, before applying the ointment. Then apply enough ointment to cover the area and massage gently to facilitate absorption.

The recommended dose of dexamethasone ointment (dermatological cream) for adults is 1 application, 2 to 3 times a day, until symptoms improve, as directed by a physician.

It is important to wash your hands after using the ointment, except in cases where the ointment is used to treat the skin of the hands. Also, do not cover the treated area of ​​skin unless instructed to do so by your doctor, as covering the skin can increase the absorption of the ointment and cause side effects.

Possible side effects

The most common side effects that may occur during treatment with dexamethasone are fluid retention, congestive heart failure, alkalosis with decreased blood potassium, increased blood pressure, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, bone fragility, gastrointestinal problems, delayed wound healing, skin fragility, acne, red spots on the skin, bruising, excessive sweating and dermatitis, hives or angioedema.

Furthermore, convulsions, increased intracranial pressure, vertigo, headache, depression, euphoria or psychotic disorders, endocrine system disorders, vision disorders, reduced immunity, anaphylactic shock or oropharyngeal candidiasis may occur. There may also be a decrease in the number of lymphocytes and monocytes in the blood test, as well as the appearance of cardiac arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, allergic reactions, thromboembolism, weight gain, increased appetite, nausea or malaise.

Who should not take it

Dexamethasone should not be used by people with systemic fungal infections or who are allergic to sulfites, or any other components present in the formula. Also, it should not be given to people who have recently received live virus vaccines.

In the case of pregnant or breast-feeding women, this medication should only be used under the guidance of an obstetrician.

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