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What are the Different Dexamethasone Side Effects?

Article Details
  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication that is often used to treat inflammation. This medication may be prescribed for conditions such as arthritis, allergic reactions, or cancer. While many patients do not experience any negative side effects from this medication, others may experience side effects that range from mild to severe. Some dexamethasone side effects may include problems with the skin, heart, or digestive system. In rare cases, a potentially fatal allergic reaction to the drug may occur.

Some potential dexamethasone side effects affecting the skin may include dry or scaly skin, acne, or thinning skin. Some patients may experience allergic skin reactions such as hives or eczema. Wounds may heal more slowly than normal while taking this medication, or excessive sweating may occur.

Cardiovascular problems are among the most serious potential dexamethasone side effects. These side effects may include an enlarged heart or even cardiac arrest, more commonly referred to as a heart attack. Congestive heart failure has been linked to the use of this medication in some patients.

As is the case with many steroid medications, an increased appetite or weight gain may be among the more common dexamethasone side effects. Ulcers and inflammation of the pancreas have also been reported. Some patients have experienced tears in the intestines when taking this medication, often leading to emergency surgery. Muscle weakness and bone fractures are also among the reported dexamethasone side effects.

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Dexamethasone side effects may include psychological instability in some patients. Mood swings, irritability, and other personality changes are often reported. Headaches, depression, and insomnia may occur in people taking this medication. Other reported dexamethasone side effects include a reduction in the ability to fight infection and fertility changes, especially in men.

Anaphylaxis, also referred to as anaphylactic shock, is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that may occur in some people taking dexamethasone. Early symptoms may include a reddening of the skin, hives, and intense itching. Anxiety and a rapid pulse may then develop. In severe cases, a person's ability to breathe may become compromised. This is a medical emergency, and the affected person needs to get to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.

Treatment for anaphylaxis usually includes the injection of a drug known as epinephrine. Shakiness and an increased heart rate are common after an epinephrine injection. These side effects are not generally dangerous, except in people who already have cardiac problems. These people may need to be monitored a little longer by the medical team before being released from the hospital.

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