Dexamethasone (Decadron) Nursing Considerations

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Generic Name


Trade Name



Manage cerebral edema, assess for Cushing’s Disease


Suppress inflammation and normal immune response. Used in inflammatory states
to decrease inflammation.

Therapeutic Class

Antiasthmatics, corticosteroids

Pharmacologic Class


Nursing Considerations

• Excreted by the liver – monitor liver profile
• Avoid in active untreated infections
• May cause CNS alterations
• May cause peptic ulcers
• May cause Cushingoid appearance (buffalo hump, moon face)
• Weight gain
• Osteoporosis
• Decrease wound healing
• May elevate blood sugars
• May increase cholesterol and lipid values

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Hey guys, let’s talk about dexamethasone, also known as Decadron. This is an oral medication, but it also comes in the form of an injection as you can see here. So remember when we talk about the therapeutic, this is what the drug does in the body while the pharmacologic class is the chemical effect. So the therapeutic class for dexamethasone is an antiasthmatic and a corticosteroid while the pharmacologic class is a corticosteroid. So dexamethasone works by suppressing inflammation and normal immune response. So we’ll say red hot for inflammation suppresses that. And it’s used in inflammatory states to decrease that inflammation. Dexamethasone is indicated to manage cerebral edema and also to assess for Cushing’s disease. 

So some of the side effects that we see with dexamethasone or corticosteroids, in general, are weight gain. And I know being a nurse, I always hear patients say how much weight they have gained from taking steroids. So you’re probably going to hear this too. Also, we see elevated blood sugars and that cushingoid appearance, which is that moon face or that Buffalo hump. So let’s take a look at a few nursing considerations for dexamethasone. Dexamethasone may cause CNS alterations, peptic ulcers, osteoporosis, and decreased wound healing. The patient’s liver profile must be monitored as dexamethasone is excreted by the liver. Dexamethasone can increase cholesterol and lipid values. So keep this in mind with patients who might already have this issue. Avoid in patients who have active eye untreated infections and teach the patient to report weight gain and any non-healing wounds that they may have to their provider. So as a surgical nurse, we use dexamethasone a lot; it’s given to decrease swelling and inflammation after oral surgery, or if the patient was a difficult intubation, possibly tonsillectomies, or even for postoperative nausea and vomiting. That’s it for dexamethasone or Decadron. Now go out and be your best self today. And as always happy nursing.

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