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Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug used in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions. It works to suppress the immune system and thus reduce inflammation. It is currently being trialled in the treatment of Coronavirus. 

Our online pharmacy does not provide this drug. In regard to its use as a treatment for COVID-19 it is only for use in a hospital setting. This page is for information only. If you think you may have Coronavirus symptoms you can speak to one of our clinicians via video consultation.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

30 July 2020
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 30 July 2020
Product information

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication used since the 1960s to treat a wide range of conditions including some serious illnesses. This medication has received a lot of global interest due to its use in the treatment of COVID-19. 

Dexamethasone is available in various application methods including oral tablets, liquid medicine, injection and eye drops. 

What are corticosteroids? 

Steroid treatments are man made versions of our natural hormones. When the amount of steroids is above the normal amount found in the body it can help to reduce inflammation and suppress the activity of the immune system. This is how the treatment helps autoimmune conditions, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body. 

What does dexamethasone treat? 

An overview of some of the conditions this treatment is used for includes: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers and croup in children. 

How does dexamethasone treat Coronavirus?

A coronavirus infection can cause inflammation as the body tries to fight off the disease. Unfortunately this immune response can sometimes overwhelm the body and cause it to attack its own cells. Dexamethasone can suppress the body’s immune response to help reduce inflammation. 

It is important to note that this level of treatment is only useful for Coronavirus patients who are already in a hospital setting. Those with mild Coronavirus symptoms who are self-isolating at home would not benefit from using dexamethasone at this stage. 

Is dexamethasone a cure for Coronavirus? 

Dexamethasone has been found to work well at treating some people infected with coronavirus. However, it is not a guaranteed cure. According to a study carried out by scientists at The University of Oxford, using this drug in ventilated patients could potentially prevent one in three deaths caused by COVID-19. It could also prevent one in five deaths in patients receiving oxygen support for Coronavirus. 

Can I order dexamethasone online? 

No. We do not sell dexamethasone through our online pharmacy. If you are concerned about potential coronavirus symptoms you can speak to one of our clinicians through our private online video consultation service. 

If you have coronavirus symptoms you should self-isolate, stay at home and arrange a test.

Page last reviewed:  30/07/2020
Directions

As with any medication it is important that you take your course as directed by your doctor or prescribing physician. 

Dexamethasone has a broad range of applications, therefore how you take it may depend on what it’s being used to treat. 

The usual dose for adults is 0.5mg to 10mg each day. 

The tablets are taken orally and should be swallowed whole with a drink of water. 

If you forget to take a dose, you should take it as soon as you remember. Unless it is close to the time of your next dose. Never double up a dose. 

It can be dangerous to stop taking this medication suddenly. If you need to stop this treatment, follow your doctor’s advice. This may involve gradually lowering the amount of medicine over a period of time. 

It is possible that your condition may worsen if you stop taking this medicine too quickly. You may also experience a ‘withdrawal symptom’. This may include headache, problems with your vision, feeling or being sick, fever, pain in your muscles and joints, swelling in the inside of your nose, weight loss, itchy skin and conjunctivitis.

Which dose should I use?

Your doctor will discuss your dosage with you. The usual dexamethasone dose for an adult is between 0.5mg to 10mg each day.

Page last reviewed:  30/07/2020
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:
Side effects

Side effects

Dexamethasone can cause serious mental health problems for some people who take it. If you notice any of the following side effects you should speak to your doctor immediately: feeling depressed, including thinking about suicide; feeling extreme mood; feeling anxious; insomnia; confusion or memory loss; feeling, seeing or hearing things that do not exist; having strange and frightening thoughts; changing how you act or having feelings of being alone. 

Seek immediate medical help if you experience an allergic reaction. This includes a skin rash; itchy skin; breathing difficulties and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or airways. 

You should speak to your doctor if you notice any of the following reactions: inflamed pancreas; problems with salts in your blood; high blood pressure; blood clots; problems with the muscles in your heart after a recent heart attack; osteoporosis, bone disease; recurring infections that get worse each time such as thrush and chicken pox; skin problems; wounds that heal more slowly; bruising; acne; glaucoma; eye disorders such as cataracts, eye infections, visual disturbances, loss of vision, blurred vision; irregular or missing periods; stunted growth in children and teenagers; swelling of the face; changes in diabetes; abnormal responses to severe stress; extra body hair; increased appetite or weight gain; fits or epilepsy may become worse; severe unusual headache with visual problems; insomnia; depression; extreme mood swings or schizophrenia. 

Full details of side effects can be found in the medicine’s patient information leaflet. 

Warnings 

Taking it with other medications

Tell your doctor if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines. 

Some medicines can alter the way that dexamethasone works. In particular: warfarin, high blood pressure medicine; water tablets; rifampicin; rifabutin; phenytoin, carbamazepine; phenobarbitone; primidone; antacids; carbenoxolone; aspirin; ibuprofen or similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs); medicines used to treat diabetes; medicines used to lower potassium levels; medicines used to treat myasthenia; indinavir or saquinavir; ritonavir; cobicistat; oral contraceptives containing oestrogen and progestogen; anti-cancer treatments, such as aminoglutethimide; methotrexate; ephedrine; acetazolamide. 

Conditions to look out for

It is important to inform your clinician of your past medical history. Whilst you are taking this medicine, you should not come into contact with anyone who has chicken pox, shingles or measles if you have not had these illnesses.

Your doctor needs to know if you have any of the following: cancer of the blood; symptoms of tumour lysis syndrome; kidney or liver problems; high blood pressure; heart disease; diabetes or a family history or diabetes; osteoporosis; muscle weakness caused by previous steroid use; glaucoma or a family history of glaucoma; stomach ulcer; mental health problems; epilepsy; migraines; underactive thyroid gland; an infection with parasites; tuberculosis; stunted growth or visual disturbances. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

You should speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding before you commence your treatment. 

Driving and using machinery

This medication should not interfere with your ability to drive or operate machinery. 

Dexamethasone and lactose intolerance

This treatment contains lactose and therefore may be unsuitable for those who have an intolerance to certain sugars.

Page last reviewed:  30/07/2020
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:
Q&A

Can I still drink alcohol?

You can usually drink alcohol whilst using steroid medication. However, you should take care not to drink too much as doing so can irritate your stomach. 

Will I still be able to drive?

This treatment should not impact your ability to drive. 

How do I store it?

Keep this medicine out of the sight and reach of children. Keep in a cool environment and do not store in the fridge. 

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

Dexamethasone tablets contain dexamethasone, potato starch, propylene glycol, magnesium stearate and lactose. 

Is it available over-the-counter?

No. This is a prescription only medication. 

Can I buy Dexamethasone online?

You cannot purchase this treatment from our online pharmacy. If you have concerns about potential coronavirus symptoms you can use our online video consultation service to speak to a clinician.

Page last reviewed:  30/07/2020
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