Information for Consumers

Revised: 11 June 2015

Consumer Medicine Information


dexamethasone 1 mg and 4 mg tablets

What is in this leaflet

This leaflet answers some common questions about dexamethasone.

It does not contain all the available information

It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist

Keep this leaflet with the medicine, you may need to read it again.

What is it used for

Dexamethasone belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids . It may be used to treat symptoms such as inflammation, certain immune disorders and in replacement therapy of an inactive or underactive adrenal gland.

Your doctor may prescribe dexamethasone for skin allergies, asthma, leukaemia, blood disorders, selected rheumatic disorders (pain in the joints, muscles or connective tissue), gastrointestinal disorders (such as inflammatory bowel disease), skin problems, certain abnormal growths (cancers) and excessive calcium in the blood.

Your doctor may have prescribed dexamethasone for another reason.

If you have any concerns about taking this medicine or would like to know why dexamethasone has been prescribed for you, ask your doctor.

Before you take it

When you must not take it
Before you start to take it

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies to :

Tell your doctor if you have or have had any of the following conditions:

Tell your doctor if you have been given any vaccines recently

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant/intend to become pregnant or breast-feeding

Tell your doctor if you are planning to father a child

Tell your doctor if you have spent time in the tropics or have unexplained diarrhoea

Tell your doctor if you suffer from psychosis (abnormal thoughts)

Tell your doctor or dentist if you plan to have surgery that needs a general anaesthetic

If you have not told your doctor or pharmacist about any of the above, tell them before you start taking dexamethasone

Taking other medicines

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines including any that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop.

Some medicines and dexamethasone interfere with each other. These include:

Your doctor and pharmacist may have more medicines to be careful with or avoid.

Other things to consider before taking it

As with other corticosteroid medicines, dexamethasone may cause dizziness in some people.

Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how it affects you.

Dexamethasone is not addictive.

Long term treatment should not be abruptly discontinued as this may result in symptoms of corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome.

If you have been given dexamethasone for a painful or inflamed joint, you should be careful not to overuse the joint as long as the inflammation is still present

How to take it

Follow all directions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist carefully. If you do not understand the instructions ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Do not give this medicine to anyone else even if they have the same or a similar condition to you.

How much to take

Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how many tablets you will need to take each day. This depends on your condition and whether or not you are taking any other medicines. The dose may be altered from time to time.

Do not take more or less dexamethasone tablets than your doctor has prescribed. If you think the dose is too weak or too strong, talk to your doctor.

How to take it

Swallow the tablets with a glass of water.

When to take it

How often depends on your condition.

Do not stop taking the medicine even if you feel better.

It does not matter if you take it before or after food

How long to take it

How long depends on your condition and response to the treatment.

Do not stop taking it suddenly as your symptoms may worsen, return or in cases of long term use, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced (corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome).

If you forget to take it

If you miss a dose, whether or not you should take the missed dose or not will depend on how may times a day your doctor has told you to take dexamethasone.

Do not take a double dose to make up for any missed dose
This may increase the chance of getting an unwanted side effect

Ask your doctor or pharmacist what to do.

If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine take your medicine at about the same time each day or ask your pharmacist for some hints.

While you are taking it

Tell your doctor if you get an infection or injury
Symptoms of infections may be hidden by the anti-inflammatory action of dexamethasone.

Tell any other doctors, dentists and pharmacists who are treating you that you are taking dexamethasone.

If you are about to be started on a new medicine tell your doctor, dentist and pharmacist that you are taking dexamethasone.

If you become pregnant, tell your doctor or pharmacist.

Do not have any immunisations
The vaccine may interfere with dexamethasone or not work at all.

Avoid close contact with anyone who has a contagious disease such as chickenpox or measles

Side effects

Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking dexamethasone.

All medicines have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not.

If you are over 65 years of age, you may have an increased chance of experiencing side effects.

The following is a list of possible side effects.
Do not be alarmed by this list.
You may not experience any of them.

Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Changes in your immune system:
Changes in your gastrointestinal system
Mental effects
Changes to your skin
Changes to the eyes

Tell your doctor immediately or go to the Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital if you notice:

These side effects are very serious

When dexamethasone is taken for long periods of time, it is important to visit your doctor regularly for check ups.
Some side effects can only be detected by your doctor. It is important that changes in the following are detected:

Other side effects not listed above may occur in some patients. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any undesirable side effects not mentioned in this leaflet.

In case of overdose

Adverse effects related to dexamethasone normally develop only after prolonged use.

If you take too many tablets, immediately telephone your doctor or pharmacist or the Poisons Information Centre (telephone 0800 POISON or 0800 764 766) or go to the Accident and Emergency department at your nearest hospital, if you think that you or anyone else may have taken too much dexamethasone. Do this even if there are no signs of discomfit or poisoning.

Storage conditions

Keep your tablets in the original container until it is time to take them .
If you take the tablets out of the original container they will not keep well.

Keep your tablets in a cool dry place away from light where the temperature stays below 30°C.

Do not store your tablets in the bathroom or near a sink.

Do not leave it in the car or on a windowsill.
Heat and dampness can destroy medicines.

Keep your tablets where children cannot reach them.
As with all medicines, you should store your tablets out of the reach of children. A locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.


If your doctor tells you to stop taking this medicine or the tablets have passed their expiry date, ask your pharmacist what to do with any that are left over.

Product description

What it looks like

Dexamethasone 1 mg and 4 mg tablets come in packs of 100 tablets

Dexamethasone 1mg tablets are round white tablets with the DP logo on one face and two bisecting scores at right angles to each other on the opposite face.

Dexamethasone 4mg tablets are round white tablets with a break-line on one face and "4" on the other.


Active: dexamethasone

Other: magnesium stearate, talc, lactose, maize cornflour, povidone, and sodium starch glycolate.


Douglas Pharmaceuticals Ltd
PO Box 45-027
Auckland 8

Date of preparation: 19 December 2003