Dexamethasone (Page 2 of 3)

PRECAUTIONS

Following prolonged therapy, withdrawal of corticosteroids may result in symptoms of the corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome including fever, myalgia, arthralgia, and malaise. This may occur in patients even without evidence of adrenal insufficiency.

There is an enhanced effect of corticosteroids in patients with hypothyroidism and in those with cirrhosis.

Corticosteroids should be used cautiously in patients with ocular herpes simplex because of possible corneal perforation.

The lowest possible dose of corticosteroid should be used to control the condition under treatment, and when reduction in dosage is possible, the reduction should be gradual.

Psychic derangements may appear when corticosteroids are used, ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations. Also, existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids.

Aspirin should be used cautiously in conjunction with corticosteroids in hypoprothrombinemia.

Steroids should be used with caution in nonspecific ulcerative colitis, if there is a probability of impending perforation, abscess, or other pyogenic infection, diverticulitis, fresh intestinal anastomoses, active or latent peptic ulcer, renal insufficiency, hypertension, osteoporosis and myasthenia gravis. Fat embolism has been reported as a possible complication of hypercortisonism.

When large doses are given, some authorities advise that corticosteroids be taken with meals and antacids taken between meals to help to prevent peptic ulcer.

Growth and development of infants and children on prolonged corticosteroid therapy should be carefully observed.

Steroids may increase or decrease motility and number of spermatozoa in some patients.

Phenytoin, phenobarbital, ephedrine, and rifampin may enhance the metabolic clearance of corticosteroids, resulting in decreased blood levels and lessened physiologic activity, thus requiring adjustment in corticosteroid dosage. These interactions may interfere with dexamethasone suppression tests which should be interpreted with caution during administration of these drugs.

False-negative results in the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) in patients being treated with indomethacin have been reported. Thus, results of the DST should be interpreted with caution in these patients.

The prothrombin time should be checked frequently in patients who are receiving corticosteroids and coumarin anticoagulants at the same time because of reports that corticosteroids have altered the response to these anticoagulants. Studies have shown that the usual effect produced by adding corticosteroids is inhibition of response to coumarins, although there have been some conflicting reports of potentiation not substantiated by studies.

When corticosteroids are administered concomitantly with potassium-depleting diuretics, patients should be observed closely for development of hypokalemia.

Information for Patients

Persons who are on immunosuppressant doses of corticosteroids should be warned to avoid exposure to chickenpox or measles. Patients should also be advised that if they are exposed, medical advice should be sought without delay.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

Fluid and Electrolyte Disturbances:

Sodium retention

Fluid retention

Congestive heart failure in susceptible patients

Potassium loss

Hypokalemic alkalosis

Hypertension

Musculoskeletal:

Muscle weakness

Steroid myopathy

Loss of muscle mass

Osteoporosis

Vertebral compression fractures

Aseptic necrosis of femoral and humeral heads

Pathologic fracture of long bones

Tendon rupture

Gastrointestinal:

Peptic ulcer with possible perforation and hemorrhage

Perforation of the small and large bowel, particularly in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Pancreatitis

Abdominal distention

Ulcerative esophagitis

Dermatologic:

Impaired wound healing

Thin fragile skin

Petechiae and ecchymoses

Erythema

Increased sweating

May suppress reactions to skin tests

Other cutaneous reactions, such as allergic dermatitis, urticaria, angioneurotic edema

Neurologic:

Convulsions

Increased intracranial pressure with papilledema (pseudotumor cerebri) usually after treatment

Vertigo

Headache

Psychic Disturbances

Endocrine:

Menstrual irregularities

Development of cushingoid state

Suppression of growth in children

Secondary adrenocortical and pituitary unresponsiveness, particularly in times of stress, as in trauma, surgery, or illness

Decreased carbohydrate tolerance

Manifestations of latent diabetes mellitus

Increased requirements for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetes

Hirsutism

Ophthalmic:

Posterior subcapsular cataracts

Increased intraocular pressure

Glaucoma

Exophthalmos

Metabolic:

Negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism

Cardiovascular:

Myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction (See WARNINGS)

Other:

Hypersensitivity

Thromboembolism

Weight gain

Increased appetite

Nausea

Malaise

Hiccups

OVERDOSAGE

Reports of acute toxicity and/or death following overdosage of glucocorticoids are rare. In the event of overdosage, no specific antidote is available; treatment is supportive and symptomatic.

The oral LD50 of dexamethasone in female mice was 6.5 g/kg.

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

For oral administration: DOSAGE REQUIREMENTS ARE VARIABLE AND MUST BE INDIVIDUALIZED ON THE BASIS OF THE DISEASE AND THE RESPONSE OF THE PATIENT.

The initial dosage varies from 0.75 to 9 mg a day depending on the disease being treated. In less severe diseases doses lower than 0.75 mg may suffice, while in severe diseases doses higher than 9 mg may be required. The initial dosage should be maintained or adjusted until the patient’s response is satisfactory. If satisfactory clinical response does not occur after a reasonable period of time, discontinue DEXAMETHASONE ELIXIR and transfer the patient to other therapy.

After a favorable initial response, the proper maintenance dosage should be determined by decreasing the initial dosage in small amounts to the lowest dosage that maintains an adequate clinical response.

Patients should be observed closely for signs that might require dosage adjustment, including changes in clinical status resulting from remissions or exacerbations of the disease, individual drug responsiveness, and the effect of stress (e.g., surgery, infection, trauma). During stress it may be necessary to increase dosage temporarily.

If the drug is to be stopped after more than a few days of treatment, it usually should be withdrawn gradually.

The following milligram equivalents facilitate changing to DEXAMETHASONE ELIXIR from other glucocorticoids:

DEXAMETHASONE ELIXIR METHYLPREDNI SOLONE AND TRIAMCINOLONE PREDNISOLONE AND PREDNISONE HYDROCORTISONE CORTISONE
0.75 mg = 4 mg = 5 mg = 20 mg = 25 mg

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