What Is Dexamethasone Used For?

How Does Dexamethasone Work?

Dexamethasone is similar to a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal gland. It has numerous effects in the body. However, the drug primarily works by reducing inflammation. It also works to suppress the body's usual immune response, which can suppress an overactive immune system.
When dexamethasone is taken for more than a few weeks, the body becomes accustomed to it and begins to make less of its natural steroids. If dexamethasone use is stopped too quickly, the body does not have time to adjust, and dangerous side effects can occur.

Can Children Use It?

Dexamethasone has been studied in children in some, but not all, of the conditions it is approved to treat. Although the oral products and the injection are approved for use in children, the eye and ear products are not, including the eye implant and eye and ear drops. It is important to keep in mind that just because a medicine is not approved for use in children, it does not mean it absolutely cannot be used in children.
Prolonged use of dexamethasone may slow a child's growth. Therefore, children receiving this medication for a long period should be monitored for this potential side effect. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of giving this medication to your child.

Can Older Adults Use It?

Dexamethasone can be used in older adults; however, they may be more sensitive to some of the drug's effects, such as the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and fluid retention. Therefore, older adults are usually started on a lower dexamethasone dosage. Older adults may need to be monitored more closely when using this medication.

Can You Use Dexamethasone for Off-Label Reasons?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medication for something other than the officially approved uses. This would be known as an "off-label" use. Some of the possible off-label uses of dexamethasone include treatment of:
  • Amyloidosis
  • Bone pain
  • Pharyngitis
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Prevention of altitude sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Nausea and vomiting after surgery
  • Respiratory distress syndrome in newborns.
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Dexamethasone Drug Information

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