Jul 21, 2022

Generic name:  dexamethasone  (oral) [ dex-a-METH-a-sone ]
Brand names: Decadron, DexPak 6 DayTaperpak, Hemady
Drug class:  Glucocorticoids

The Decadron brand name has been discontinued in the U.S. If generic versions of this product have been approved by the FDA, there may be  generic equivalents available .

What is Decadron?

There are many brands and forms of  dexamethasone  available. Not all brands are listed on this leaflet.

Decadron is a steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

Decadron is used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions,  ulcerative colitis , arthritis,  lupus ,  psoriasis , or breathing disorders.

Decadron may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


You should not use Decadron if you have a fungal infection anywhere in your body.

Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, and all the medicines you are using. There are many other diseases that can be affected by steroid use, and many other medicines that can interact with steroids.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Decadron if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • a fungal infection anywhere in your body.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver disease  (such as  cirrhosis );
  • kidney disease;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • malaria ;
  • tuberculosis ;
  • osteoporosis ;
  • a muscle disorder such as  myasthenia gravis ;
  • diabetes (steroid medicine may increase glucose levels in your blood or urine);
  • glaucoma  or cataracts;
  • herpes infection of the eyes;
  • stomach ulcers, ulcerative  colitis ,  diverticulitis ,  inflammatory bowel disease ;
  • depression  or mental illness;
  • congestive  heart failure ; or
  • high blood pressure .

Steroid medication affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily. Steroids can also worsen or reactivate an infection you’ve already had. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

You should not breastfeed while using Decadron.

How should I take Decadron?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Your dose needs may change due to surgery, illness,  stress , or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.

Decadron can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using Decadron.

Do not stop using Decadron suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

In case of emergency, wear or carry medical identification to let others know you use Decadron.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Detailed Decadron dosage information

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of Decadron.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

An overdose of dexamethasone is not expected to produce life threatening symptoms. Long term use of high doses can lead to thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased  acne  or facial hair, menstrual problems,  impotence , or loss of interest in sex.

What should I avoid while taking Decadron?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chickenpox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medicine.

Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking Decadron.

Do not receive a “live” vaccine while using Decadron. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), and zoster ( shingles ).

Decadron side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction:  hives ; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Decadron may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • muscle tightness, weakness, or limp feeling;
  • blurred vision, tunnel vision,  eye pain , or seeing halos around lights;
  • shortness of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • severe depression, unusual thoughts or behavior;
  • a seizure (convulsions);
  • bloody or tarry stools,  coughing up blood ;
  • fast or  slow heart rate , weak pulse;
  • pancreatitis –severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back,  nausea and vomiting ;
  • low potassium  level–leg cramps,  constipation , irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination,  numbness  or tingling; or
  • increased blood pressure–severe  headache , blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears,  anxiety , nosebleed.

Decadron can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using Decadron.

Common side effects of Decadron may include:

  • fluid retention  (swelling in your hands or ankles);
  • increased appetite;
  • mood changes, trouble sleeping;
  • skin rash , bruising or discoloration;
  • acne, increased sweating, increased hair growth;
  • headache,  dizziness ;
  • nausea ,  vomiting ,  upset stomach ;
  • changes in your menstrual periods; or
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Decadron side effects  (more detail)

What other drugs will affect Decadron?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines. Many drugs can affect Decadron, especially:

  • an  antibiotic  or antifungal medicine;
  • birth control pills  or hormone replacement therapy;
  • insulin  or diabetes medications you take by mouth;
  • medicine to treat  dementia  or  Parkinson’s disease ;
  • a blood thinner– warfarin ,  Coumadin ,  Jantoven ; or
  • NSAIDs  ( nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs )– aspirin ,  ibuprofen  ( Advil ,  Motrin ),  naproxen  ( Aleve ),  celecoxib ,  diclofenac ,  indomethacin ,  meloxicam , and others.

This list is not complete and many other drugs may affect Decadron. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines,  vitamins , and  herbal products . Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

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