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Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone

Descriptions of Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone provides relief for inflamed areas of the body. It is used to treat a number of different conditions, such as inflammation (swelling), severe allergies, adrenal problems, arthritis, asthma, blood or bone marrow problems, kidney problems, skin conditions, and flare-ups of multiple sclerosis. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid (cortisone-like medicine or steroid). It works on the immune system to help relieve swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions.

How it works

Dexamethasone belongs to a class of drugs called steroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions. How the drug works depends on what it's being used to treat:

For conditions with inflammation: With certain conditions, inflammation can cause the immune system to be overactive. This can damage the body's tissues. Steroids such as dexamethasone help block the immune system's response to inflammation, which helps prevent this damage.

For adrenal insufficiency: The adrenal gland helps control certain body functions. These functions include managing blood glucose, fighting infection, and controlling stress. In people with adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal gland releases lower amounts of certain hormones. Dexamethasone helps replace these hormones.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, is similar to a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It often is used to replace this chemical when your body does not make enough of it. It relieves inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain) and is used to treat certain forms of arthritis; skin, blood, kidney, eye, thyroid, and intestinal disorders (e.g., colitis); severe allergies; and asthma. Dexamethasone is also used to treat certain types of cancer.

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How should this medicine be used?

Dexamethasone comes as a tablet and a solution to take by mouth. Your doctor will prescribe a dosing schedule that is best for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take dexamethasone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Do not stop taking dexamethasone without talking to your doctor. Stopping the drug abruptly can cause loss of appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, headache, fever, joint and muscle pain, peeling skin, and weight loss. If you take large doses for a long time, your doctor probably will decrease your dose gradually to allow your body to adjust before stopping the drug completely. Watch for these side effects if you are gradually decreasing your dose and after you stop taking the tablets or oral liquid, even if you switch to an inhalation corticosteroid medication. If these problems occur, call your doctor immediately. You may need to increase your dose of tablets or liquid temporarily or start taking them again

Precautions

Chronic or inappropriate use of corticosteroids including dexamethasone can cause life-threatening hormonal and metabolic changes.

Adverse effects due to corticosteroid treatment usually occur with long-term administration of the drug, especially when high doses are used. Alternate-day therapy with short-acting preparations is preferred. Animals that have received long-term therapy should be withdrawn slowly by tapering the dosage and prolonging the interval between doses.

Corticosteroids suppress immune response. Animals receiving systemic corticosteroids may be more susceptible to bacterial or viral infections. Systemic corticosteroids can mask signs of infection, such as an elevated temperature.

Polyuria, polydipsia, and muscle wasting can be seen with prolonged corticosteroid use.

Corticosteroids can cause or worsen gastric ulcers.

Corticosteroids should be avoided or used very carefully in young animals both because of immune suppression and the risk of GI ulcers.

Corticosteroids have been implicated as a cause of laminitis in horses and ponies. Some corticosteroids are thought to be more likely to cause laminitis than others and the dexamethasone drugs historically have not been considered to be in the higher risk category. Pony breeds may be more susceptible to developing laminitis than horses.

Although corticosteroids may be used in healthy older horses, they should not be used in horses with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. These horses already may have high levels of natural corticosteroids and are prone to laminitis and suppressed immune- function.

Corticosteroids should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Large doses in early pregnancy may be teratogenic. Corticosteroids can induce labor in cattle and has been used to terminate pregnancy in bitches.

 

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