Dexamethasone for weight gain. Dexamethasone is a synthetic steroid. It is a potent immunosuppressive drug and it is used in the treatment of severe allergies, multiple sclerosis and other disorders involving immune system. It diminishes inflammation by decreasing the production of natural steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex. Dexamethasone commonly prescribed as Decadron, Decadron Tablets, Decadron Without Prescription, Decadron Overnight No Prescription and it can also be taken orally or via intravenously.
What is dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
Dexamethasone is used to treat many different inflammatory conditions such as allergic disorders and skin conditions.
Dexamethasone is also used to treat ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and breathing disorders.
There are many brands and forms of dexamethasone available. Not all brands are listed on this leaflet.
How should I take dexamethasone?
Take dexamethasone exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose.
Your dose needs may change due to surgery, illness, stress, or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.
Dexamethasone can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using dexamethasone.
Do not stop using dexamethasone 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 dexamethasone.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of dexamethasone.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention
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 dexamethasone?
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 dexamethasone.
Do not receive a “live” vaccine while using dexamethasone. 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).
Dexamethasone side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to dexamethasone: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
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.
Dexamethasone can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using dexamethasone.
Common dexamethasone side effects may include:
fluid retention (swelling in your hands or ankles);
mood changes, trouble sleeping;
skin rash, bruising or discoloration;
acne, increased sweating, increased hair growth;
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).
You should not use dexamethasone 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.
Your dosage may change if you have any unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you during treatment.
Dexamethasone can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection or worsening an infection you already have or have recently had. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.
Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chicken pox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medication.
All vaccines may not work as well while you are taking a steroid. Do not receive a “live” vaccine while you are taking this medicine.
Do not stop using dexamethasone suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use dexamethasone if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
a fungal infection anywhere in your body.
To make sure you can safely take dexamethasone, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
liver disease (such as cirrhosis);
a thyroid disorder;
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;
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 dexamethasone.
Influence of dexamethasone on appetite and body weight in lung cancer patients
Anorexia and cachexia are the most common symptoms in cancer patients. They increase morbidity and mortality among cancer patients as well as complications of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The most common drugs for treatment of cancer cachexia are corticosteroids and megestrol acetate.
Material and methods: The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of dexamethasone on appetite loss and weight loss in lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Group A (30 patients) was treated with cisplatin, etoposide and standard supportive therapy, while group B (30 patients) received, in addition to this treatment, dexamethasone in the dose of 8 mg intravenously per day (1-3 day of chemotherapy).
Results: There was a statistically significant difference in appetite loss between two groups after the second chemotherapy cycle favoring group A. The analysis of weight loss showed a statistically significant difference between two groups after both chemotherapy cycles, once again in favor of group A. Concerning the improvement of appetite and weight gain, there was no statistically significant difference between two groups after both chemotherapy cycles.
Discussion: Many double-blind randomized controlled studies showed beneficial symptomatic effect of corticosteroids in cancer cachexia, especially on the improvement of appetite, food intake and performance status. In most of the studies the weight gain was not recorded The most effective type of corticosteroids, dose and route of administration have not been established.
Conclusion: Dexamethasone significantly decreases appetite loss and weight loss in lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy, while it has no influence on appetite improvement and weight gain.
What other drugs will affect dexamethasone?
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 dexamethasone, 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.
Dexamethasone: things you should know
1. How it works
Dexamethasone may be used to treat conditions characterized by inflammation. Dexamethasone helps to reduce inflammation and calms down an overactive immune system.
Dexamethasone works by mimicking the effect of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands (which are located on top of the kidneys) that controls metabolism and stress.
Dexamethasone belongs to the class of medicines known as corticosteroids. It is specifically a glucocorticoid.
May be used to help control inflammation associated with a wide range of conditions, such as skin diseases, endocrine disorders, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, blood disorders, nerve disorders, eye disease, renal disease, respiratory disease, rheumatic disease, and palliative care.
Usually only prescribed for short-term use; however, in certain instances, dexamethasone may be prescribed for longer periods.
Dexamethasone acts similarly to prednisolone but has more potent anti-inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic effects.
When given at the same dosage, dexamethasone is less likely than hydrocortisone to cause fluid retention.
Generic dexamethasone is available.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side affects you are more likely to experience include:
Mood effects such as agitation, anxiety, and irritability; blurred vision; a change in heart rate; swelling of the limbs (edema or sodium and water retention); increased appetite and weight gain; and concentration difficulties are the most common side effects.
Indigestion, facial hair growth (especially in women), high blood pressure, slow skin healing and skin thinning, osteoporosis (brittle bones), low potassium levels, and problems with blood glucose control may also occur. Rarely, severe allergic reactions have been reported.
Should not be used in people with systemic fungal infections or with viral infections. Dexamethasone may also increase the risk of infection and its anti-inflammatory action can mask signs of infection.
May not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, osteoporosis, tuberculosis, cushingoid syndrome, and peptic ulcers.
Over dosage may cause sodium retention, fluid retention, potassium loss, and weight gain.
Should not be stopped suddenly if dexamethasone has been used long-term. Reduce dosage gradually over several weeks or months to allow the adrenal glands to return to their normal patterns of secretion. Too rapid a withdrawal of dexamethasone may cause symptoms such as bone and muscle pain, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Alcohol use should be limited or avoided while taking dexamethasone to help prevent stomach ulcers.
The administration of “live vaccines” needs to be delayed for several months after dexamethasone treatment has stopped.
May interact with several other drugs including aspirin, digoxin, NSAIDs, hormonal contraceptives, other drugs metabolized by CYP 3A4, and warfarin. Dexamethasone may cause low blood potassium levels which may affect how some heart medications work.
Only use during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. Animal studies have reported an increased incidence of cleft palate when corticosteroids have been given to pregnant mice, rats, and rabbits have yielded an increased incidence of cleft palate in the offspring. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Corticosteroids should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Infants born to mothers who have received substantial doses of corticosteroids during pregnancy should be carefully observed for signs of hypoadrenalism.
Take exactly as directed, do not increase or decrease the dosage of dexamethasone unless directed by your doctor. Dosage requirements for dexamethasone are variable and must be individualized based on the disease and patient response.
Limit or avoid alcohol use while taking dexamethasone to help prevent stomach ulcers.
If you are taking Intensol, an oral solution of dexamethasone, this needs to be mixed with liquid or semi-solid food such as applesauce or puddings. Consume the entire amount of the stored product immediately, do not save for future use.
Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you develop a fever or any other signs of infection while taking dexamethasone. Also, talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your mood or any other worrying side effects.
Wear a medical alert bracelet that states you are taking dexamethasone.
Try to avoid exposing yourself to people with an active viral infection such as chickenpox or measles. Seek medical advice urgently if you think you have been exposed inadvertently.
Do not stop dexamethasone suddenly if used long-term. Your doctor will advise you on how to reduce the dosage of dexamethasone gradually over several weeks or months to allow the adrenal glands to return to their normal patterns of secretion. Too rapid a withdrawal of dexamethasone may cause symptoms such as bone and muscle pain, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Delay the administration of “live vaccines” for several months after dexamethasone treatment has stopped.
Make sure you inform your dentist or other health professionals that you are taking dexamethasone.
5. Response and effectiveness
Peak effects of dexamethasone are reached within 10 to 30 minutes of administration; however, it may take a couple of days before any inflammation is well controlled.
Medicines that interact with dexamethasone may either decrease its effect, affect how long it works for, increase side effects, or have less of an effect when taken with dexamethasone. An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of the medications; however, sometimes it does. Speak to your doctor about how drug interactions should be managed.
Common medications that may interact with dexamethasone include:
antibiotics, such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, rifabutin, rifampin, or troleandomycin
anticholinesterases, such as neostigmine, or pyridostigmine
anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as apixaban, dabigatran, fondaparinux, heparin, or warfarin
antidepressants, such as desipramine, fluoxetine, sertraline, or St. John’s Wort
antifungal medications, such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, or voriconazole
antinausea medications, such as aprepitant