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Specific Warnings and Precautions With Dexamethasone

Some precautions and warnings to be aware of prior to using this drug include the following:
  • People taking steroids such as dexamethasone may need a higher dose during times of unusual stress, such as injury, infection, or emotional stress. Talk with your healthcare provider about adjusting your dose during these situations.
  • This medication can increase blood pressure. It may also cause your body to hold onto salt and water, which can lead to swelling (edema). Let your healthcare provider know if you experience body swelling, unexplained weight gain, or an increase in blood pressure while taking dexamethasone. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you follow a low-salt diet.
  • Dexamethasone can weaken the immune system, which may increase your risk for an infection. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience chills, fever, muscle aches, or any other symptoms of an infection. Also contact your healthcare provider immediately if you are exposed to chickenpox, measles, or tuberculosis, as you may be more susceptible to these illnesses while taking this drug.
  • You should not receive certain vaccinations or immunizations while taking dexamethasone. Check with your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated while taking this medication.
  • This medicine can cause eye problems, including increased eye pressure, cataracts, glaucoma, vision changes, and eye infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience any changes in your vision or other eye problems during treatment. It is especially important to notify your healthcare provider about pain, redness, or light sensitivity in the days immediately following a dexamethasone eye injection.
  • Dexamethasone eye drops may cause a hole or tear in an otherwise thin cornea (the transparent part of the outer covering of the eye) or sclera (the white outer covering of the eye). Contact your healthcare provider if you experience excessive eye watering, pain, or have the feeling that something is in your eye, as these may be signs of a more serious problem.
  • You may experience temporary blurred vision right after receiving the dexamethasone intravitreal implant (eye implant). Do not perform activities that require clear vision, such as driving or operating heavy machinery, until your vision improves.
  • Do not stop taking dexamethasone without first talking to your healthcare provider. If you have been taking it for longer than a few weeks, your healthcare provider will recommend a gradual dose reduction. Your body can become used to the medication and needs time to adjust as you stop taking it. If this medicine is stopped too suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Drowsiness
    • Confusion
    • Headache
    • Muscle pain and weakness.
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, ulcers, and osteoporosis, may be more sensitive to the effects of this medication. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely if you have a condition that makes you more susceptible to dexamethasone side effects.
  • Dexamethasone can increase blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider may recommend that you test your blood sugar more often while taking this drug. The dose of your diabetes medications may need to be adjusted.
  • Dexamethasone can cause mood or psychiatric changes. These changes can range from insomnia or mild mood changes to severe depression or hallucinations. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your mood or mental health.
  • This drug can affect the bones. It may slow bone growth in children, and can cause osteoporosis in both adults and children. Children who take this medication for prolonged periods should have their growth monitored. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about these potential effects on the bone.
  • Some dexamethasone products may contain sodium bisulfite, which can cause an allergic reaction in people with sulfite sensitivity. Although sulfite sensitivity is rare, it may be more common in people with asthma.
  • Your healthcare provider will monitor your response to this drug with certain tests. It is important to keep all your appointments so you can take this medication safely.
  • Dexamethasone may react with a number of other medications (see Dexamethasone Drug Interactions).
  • Dexamethasone is a pregnancy Category C medication, which means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Dexamethasone and Pregnancy for more information).
  • Dexamethasone is thought to pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding a child, check with your healthcare provider before using this drug (see Dexamethasone and Breastfeeding).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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