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Dexamethasone (Into the eye)

Treats inflammation of the eye. Also used to treat ear infections. This medicine is a corticosteroid.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Intravenous dexamethasone for extubation of newborn infants

Dexamethasone may help babies at high risk of complications when being taken off mechanical breathing support. The tube that is placed in the baby's airway to enable mechanical ventilation (machine‐assisted breathing) can cause injury. This can lead to complications when the tube is removed (extubation). This review found that giving dexamethasone (a corticosteroid drug) around the time of extubation can help prevent swelling in the baby's throat that might require reinsertion of the tube. However, the review found that there are adverse effects of dexamethasone. The benefits only outweigh the risks for babies at high risk of complication (such as those who have received several, or prolonged, intubations).

Dexamethasone and peripheral nerve block

A nerve block prevents or relieves pain by interrupting pain signals that travel along a nerve to the brain. It involves an injection of local anaesthetic (a numbing agent) around a nerve either during or immediately after surgery. Pain relief from nerve block may last only a few hours after surgery, after which people may experience moderate to severe pain.

Dexamethasone for preventing PICC-associated phlebitis: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Shen DQ, Du Y, Zhang CY, Sun XM, Wu SW.  Dexamethasone for preventing PICC-associated phlebitis: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2014; 14(4): 478-483 Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.7507/1672-2531.20140082

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Summaries for consumers

Intravenous dexamethasone for extubation of newborn infants

Dexamethasone may help babies at high risk of complications when being taken off mechanical breathing support. The tube that is placed in the baby's airway to enable mechanical ventilation (machine‐assisted breathing) can cause injury. This can lead to complications when the tube is removed (extubation). This review found that giving dexamethasone (a corticosteroid drug) around the time of extubation can help prevent swelling in the baby's throat that might require reinsertion of the tube. However, the review found that there are adverse effects of dexamethasone. The benefits only outweigh the risks for babies at high risk of complication (such as those who have received several, or prolonged, intubations).

Dexamethasone and peripheral nerve block

A nerve block prevents or relieves pain by interrupting pain signals that travel along a nerve to the brain. It involves an injection of local anaesthetic (a numbing agent) around a nerve either during or immediately after surgery. Pain relief from nerve block may last only a few hours after surgery, after which people may experience moderate to severe pain.

Steroids for improving recovery following tonsillectomy in children

After children have a tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy (surgery to remove the adenoids and/or tonsils), pain, nausea, vomiting and delays to return to eating are common. The corticosteroid drug dexamethasone is sometimes given in a single intravenous dose (through the veins) during surgery to try to prevent vomiting after the operation. We included 19 randomized controlled trials in the review, with a total of 1756 patients. The review of trials found that a dose of corticosteroid during tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy can prevent vomiting for one out of every five children who gets the drug. Children also return to a normal diet more quickly and they have less pain after surgery.

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