cortisone vs. dexamethasone

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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Coming soon.Lowers inflammation and suppresses your immune system. Decadron (Dexamethasone) is identical to an essential hormone that humans produce and has been proven to work safely.
How it works
Coming soon.Decadron (Dexamethasone) is a short-acting corticosteroid. It lowers inflammation by preventing your capillaries (small blood vessels) from leaking out excess fluid and chemicals that cause swelling.
Type of medication
Coming soon.
Prescription only
Available as
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
  • Acute lymphoid leukemia Adrenal insufficiency Allergic disorder Chronic lymphoid leukemia Collagen disease Disorder of endocrine system Disorder of eye Disorder of gastrointestinal tract Disorder of hematopoietic structure Disorder of respiratory system Disorder of skin Hodgkin's disease Hypercalcemia of malignancy Inflammatory disorder of musculoskeletal system Mycosis fungoides Neoplastic disease Nephrotic syndrome Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Trichinosis Tuberculosis of meninges; Adjunct
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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Side effects

We haven’t found good data for cortisone side effects.

FDA side effect reports for cortisone »

The dexamethasone FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about dexamethasone side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
Coming soon.
  • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
  • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Long-term treatment
  • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
  • Contact with people who have viral illness
  • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Duration of treatment
  • History of psychiatric conditions
  • Dose of Decadron (Dexamethasone)
  • Duration of treatment
  • Women of childbearing age
Detailed Decadron (Dexamethasone) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
DFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
No specific sleep-related info.
  • Like most corticosteroid medicines, Decadron (Dexamethasone) may cause changes in your mood or behavior. Tell your doctor right away if you become depressed, have mood swings, trouble sleeping, irritability or anxiety, hyperactivity, delusions or hallucinations while taking this medicine. If you need to make any changes or slowly taper your dose, talk to your doctor first.
No specific weight-related info.
  • Some people gain weight while taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) or can experience other side effects like mood changes.
Upsides and benefits
Coming soon.
  • Treats a large variety of inflammatory disorders including asthma, dermatitis, drug reactions, rashes, and endocrine disorders.
  • Can help prevent nausea, especially when it's caused by chemotherapy.
  • You can get it orally or as an injection.
Downsides and risks
Coming soon.
  • Can't be used on its own to treat low cortisol levels.
  • Since it suppresses your immune system, you're more likely to get infections.
  • You can't take Decadron (Dexamethasone) if you have a systemic fungal infection.
  • Shouldn't be used if you have a stomach ulcer.
  • Can decrease bone formation and lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
Coming soon.
  • The lowest possible dose of corticosteroids should be used to control your symptoms.
  • When reducing or stopping the dose, do it very slowly and follow your doctor's instructions exactly to prevent major health emergencies.
  • If you used Decadron (Dexamethasone) for a long time, you could get withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, joint pain, and malaise.
  • Some people gain weight while taking Decadron (Dexamethasone) or can experience other side effects like mood changes.
  • Don't get live or live/attenuated vaccines while on this. Killed or inactivated vaccines are fine.
Learn more
More about cortisoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsFDA package insert
More about dexamethasoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert