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Decadron (Dexamethasone)

Decadron (Dexamethasone)


Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication. It is used in the treatment of many conditions, including rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, brain swelling, eye pain following eye surgery, and along with antibiotics in tuberculosis

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Decadron is a hormonal medicine, it is a corticosteroid that acts like glucocorticoid. It decreases the inflammation, also suppressing the immune system, alters metabolism by increasing glucose level in the blood. Generally speaking, all hormones increase glucose levels in the blood, except one – insulin, insulin builds up fat and encourages glucose to enter the cells to act in the energetic chain, the rest of the hormones, including dexamethasone, do the opposite thing.

Decadron is mainly used of course to decrease immune response (it is essential when the immune system choses the wrong target – like in rheumatism, lupus or allergies), but there are other less significant effects. Dexamethasone increases blood glucose level, stimulates growth, releases energy by dissolving fats and some proteins. It increases bloodstream and filtration in the kidneys, improves their ability to get rid of acids. Dexamethasone makes your heart pump harder and increases the peripheral vascular tone – therefore increases blood pressure.

It can also slow down the formation of collagen – the connective tissue of the body. This feature is widely used when we need to prevent excessive tissue formation in the areas of inflammation, like arthritis for example, but it should also be considered that collagen is essential for the healing of the wounds, and taking Decadron when having physical injuries will slow down the recovery process.

Also, because of the mentioned above influence on the kidneys, Dexamethasone increases the washout of Calcium, parathyroid glands start working harder in order to compensate for the Calcium loss, and activate Calcium depots – the stock of this mineral in the bones, therefore taking steroids for a prolonged period of time can lead to brittle bones and lack of Calcium.

Decadron and inflammation

Dexamethasone prevents inflammation and swelling by blocking the enzymes necessary for their induction. Cell membranes are made of fats (phospholipids), and if they are ruined – special enzyme – phospholipase processes those cell membranes into components, one of which is arachidonic acid. Our body knows that if there is arachidonic acid around – that means that there is an injury or a lesion somewhere, and starts alert. Its ok if the alert goes effectively – like when you scratch you need leucocytes and thrombocytes to form a barrier around that scratch to prevent the spread of infection, but sometimes your body starts overreacting and panicking and shooting everyone around causing allergic reactions. That is when Dexamethasone can make it take it easy.


Dexamethasone/Decadron starts acting immediately when entered intravenously, but it can take eight hours to start seeing the clinical effect after intramuscular injection. Certainly it can be taken per os in form of a pill. There are also ointments and liniments with Dexamethasone widely used in sports to decrease pain and swelling.

Decadron is used to boost adrenal glands or thyroid glands’ secretion, shock, hemorrhages and swellings in brain, chronic autoimmune diseases (many kinds of arthritis, pericarditis, osteoarthritis etc. There are many kinds of diseases, there is always a list in the instruction, it is enough to remember that Decadron deals with immune and autoimmune symptoms, if you know the pathology and mechanisms of action – you don’t have to keep in mind hundreds of conditions in which Decadron is used).


Because Decadron (Dexamethasone) suppresses the immune system it is not recommended to take it in patients with fungal, virus or bacterial infection.

Cushings syndrome is when your body produces too much cortisol (hormone), therefore taking Decadron in patients with this syndrome will lead to its aggravation.

Vaccinating – if you are being vaccinated by a live vaccine, suppressing immune system may cause this weakened infection to go rampaging through your organs, so it is better to avoid taking Dexamethasone when vaccinating. It is true only for live vaccines, though, if vaccine contains only dead particles it is ok. You should consult your doctor when both taking Decadron and vaccinating.

Dexamethasone can decrease blood coagulation, so be careful when taking it with non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-coagulants.


Ironically, the drug used to treat the most severe cases of allergy is some cases can cause allergies. Try to make a prick test before using Dexamethasone for the first time if you know that you have allergies to other medications or foods.

Also, when taking Dexamethasone, you should remember that it cannot be cancelled abruptly. Usually it is decreased by 50% each next time. If you stop taking it right away you can encounter withdrawal symptoms: high temperature, stuffed nose, conjunctiva redness, headache, dizziness, sleepiness or irritability, joints pain, vomiting or even seizures. Dexamethasone can be generally replaced (for major effects like immune suppression or adrenal glands stimulation) by Cortisone or Hydrocortisone.

Treatment with Decadron can hide infections – there will be no fever, swelling, intoxication. The infection is there and may be progressing, but there will be no manifestation, and that can be dangerous. Some people mistake immune suppression caused by Decadron for improvement, but it is important to remember that it does not treat infection, though it can take the symptoms away.

It is also important to avoid taking Dexamethasone after bone fractures. It was mentioned before that this medication causes hypocalcemia and therefore brittle bones. We have already mentioned that it slows down the healing of the wounds.

Decadron in children

In children it is used generally for the same reasons it is used in adults, but it is important to maintain the right dosages. For children 0,02 to 0,01 mkg for one kilogram of body mass is used.

In children Dexamethasone is used with caution, because it can impede growth. As we have mentioned before, it can decrease Calcium depots in the body, not only by washing it out, but also by decreasing its absorption.

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