Effectiveness of Dexamethasone & its Side Effects

Dexamethasone is one of corticosteroid drugs used in effectively preventing our bodies from releasing substances that may cause inflammation. The drug Dexamethasone is effective in treatment of various illnesses such as arthritis, breathing disorders, lupus, ulcerative colitis, skin conditions and allergic disorders.

Make sure that you inform your doctor to change your Dexamethasone dosage if you experience unusual problems such serious fever, infections, illness or if you have medical emergency or you have a scheduled surgery.

Do not use dexamethasone if one has any fungal infection in the body.

  • You should inform your physician of other medicines you are taking or any other illness you have. This is because some medicines will contradict with steroids and some diseases will be affected with steroids intake.
  • Dexamethasone can make your body immune system weaker. Please inform your doctor of any recent or current infections that you have before taking the drug.
  • Avoid being near sick people or those with infections when taking Dexamethasone. Informing your physician is crucial if one is exposed to illnesses such as measles or chicken pox, for preventive measures. Such like illnesses can be bad and deadly for people on Dexamethasone treatment.
  • You should not take live vaccines while on Dexamethasone treatment. The vaccine can interact or stop working due to steroids.
  • Sudden stoppage of Dexamethasone dosage can lead to withdrawal signs. Inform your doctor if you want to stop taking of this drug to prevent the withdrawal effects involved. Use of Dexamethasone should be gradually stopped over weeks or months by reducing dosage amount.
  • Avoid or limit intake alcohol consumption when on Dexamethasone medication for it can cause stomach ulcers.

How Does Dexamethasone Work?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid type of drug known as glucocorticoid which is made to calm overactive immune system and reduction of inflammation. Dexamethasone drug mimics the role of cortisol hormone in the body. This hormone is found on the top of the kidneys and it controls stress and metabolism.

How Effective is Dexamethasone?

How Effective is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is effectively utilized in treatment of a variety of eye diseases, endocrine disorders, blood disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, nerve disorders, renal diseases, rheumatic diseases, respiratory diseases and in palliative care.

Dexamethasone is usually prescribed for short term use, but in some cases it can be prescribed for long term treatment.

Dexamethasone works in a similar manner with Prednisolone, but it has a more powerful anti-inflammatory, metabolic and hormonal effects. Dexamethasone dosage has a lesser likelihood of causing fluid retention compared to the same hydrocortisone dosage.

  • Do not increase or reduce the prescribed dosage. Take it as directed or advised by your physician.
  • You must not stop taking dexamethasone suddenly. You must seek medical guidance in how to go about stopping the dosage.
  • You should inform your surgeon or dentist that you are on Dexamethasone medication.
  • In case you develop infections or a fever, seek medical help immediately.
  • Always wear a tag or carry a note that shows you are on dexamethasone treatment. This will help a lot in case of an emergency.
  • Try as much as possible to avoid people with measles or chicken pox conditions. Inform your doctor if you have been adversely exposed to such like infections.
  • This drug should not be used in people with systematic viral or fungal infections.

The response and effectiveness of dexamethasone is excellent. Dexamethasone effectiveness is witnessed within 10 to 30 minutes after administration. However, the control of inflammation will be evident after a couple of days.

What are the Side Effects of Dexamethasone?

There are quite a few side effects of dexamethasone which includes:

  • Fluid retention leading to swelling in your hands or ankles.
  • Sleep problem and mood changes.
  • Skin discoloration, thinning, bruising and dryness or acne.
  • Slow healing of wounds.
  • Increased sweating and hair growth.
  • Dizziness, spinning sensation;
  • Muscle weakness

You should seek immediate medical assistance in case of allergic reactions to dexamethasone. Such reactions include swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat, or hives and difficulty in breathing. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

  • Limp feeling or muscle weaknesses or tightness.
  • Vision problems
  • Short breaths
  • Severe depression with unusual behavior and thoughts.
  • Convulsions or seizure.
  • Coughing of blood or presence of blood in stool or urine.
  • Little or no urination and lower back pains.
  • Numbness or tingling around your mouth and confusion.
  • Weak pulse and slow or fast heart beat rate.
  • Pancreas disorder which causes extreme pain in the upper stomach which spreads to your back.
  • Low potassium levels which leads to fluttering of the chest, constipation, legs crumps and irregular heartbeats.
  • Serious and severe high B.P (blood pressure) causing blurred vision, severe headache, nose bleeding, anxiety and pounding in your neck or ears.

The following are Dexamethasone side effects to patients of between 18 to 60 years of age and do not have other medical conditions or on other medications.

  • Mood effects like anxiety, agitation and irritability. Other common contraindications includes swelling of the limbs, blurred vision, increase in appetite and weight, increase in heart beat and difficulties in concentration.
  • Facial hair growth in women.
  • Slow healing of the skin and skin thinning.
  • High B.P (blood pressure).
  • Indigestion
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Problems in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects of this drug can cause infections.
  • Unsuitable for patients’ medical conditions like diabetes, heart failure, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, peptic ulcers and cushingoid syndrome.
  • Dexamethasone overdose may result to potassium loss, sodium retention, weight gain and fluid retention.
  • Sudden stoppage of Dexamethasone intake may cause fatigue, muscle and bone aches.
  • You have to delay any vaccine administration for months after stopping dexamethasone treatment.


Dexamethasone effectively reduces inflammation and calms down an overactive immune system and is significantly more potent than prednisolone. Long-term use can adversely affect the way the immune system reacts.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 27, 2017

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