What in the World is Dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone, often referred to by the brand name Decadron, is a corticosteroid medication used to treat inflammation. Dexamethasone use in hospice is administered to treat a variety of symptoms at end of life.
Dexamethasone for Intracranial Pressure
Dexamethasone use in hospice can decrease pressure inside the skull for patients with brain cancer and other conditions including stroke and head injuries. Symptoms of increased intracranial pressure may present as lethargy, nausea/vomiting, seizures, and/or behavior changes.
Dexamethasone for Appetite
Dexamethasone may temporarily increase appetite in hospice patients. This is normally considered an undesirable side effect, but in hospice patients, an increased appetite and weight gain may be beneficial. Again, this effect is temporary.
Dexamethasone for Mood
Dexamethasone use in hospice may promote a sense of well-being and reduce fatigue in patients at the end of life. This is certainly a beneficial side effect of this medication when it’s being used to palliate other symptoms but it is not usually used for this purpose alone. This side effect is also temporary.
Dexamethasone Side Effects
As with any medication, dexamethasone is not without side effects. Side effects may include:
- Increased blood sugar
- Increased blood pressure
- Decreased urine output
- Diminished wound healing
- Decreased ability to fight infection
The hospice nurse in conjunction with the hospice medical director will evaluate patient need for dexamethasone and will monitor side effects every visit.
If you have questions about how dexamethasone is used in hospice or are looking for more information for healthcare professionals, please call Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care at 1-888-564-3405.