Compare dexamethasone vs. Marinol

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

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Decadron (dexamethasone)

Prescription only

Marinol (dronabinol)

Prescription only
Calms down your immune system.

Decadron (dexamethasone) is a long-acting oral corticosteroid that is very effective in treating allergic reactions and immune conditions, however, if you're taking Decadron (dexamethasone) for a long time, there can be serious side effects.

Treats appetite loss and nausea.

Marinol (dronabinol) can help with appetite stimulation and nausea/vomiting; however, there are other medicines available that might work better and have less side effects.

Upsides
  • Effective in treating many conditions.
  • Can improve energy and appetite.
  • Can control immune responses that are causing you discomfort and works quickly to relieve symptoms like swelling, rash, asthma attacks, and pain.
  • Has long-term benefit in calming down the immune system and keeping it from causing your body harm, such as in autoimmune conditions.
  • Available in generic form.
  • The appetite stimulating effects of Marinol (dronabinol) can last up to 5 months.
  • Marinol (dronabinol) is available in cheaper, generic form.
  • Can also improve mood and body weight in some people.
Downsides
  • Many side effects, particularly with long term use.
  • Side effects include mood changes, trouble sleeping and increase in blood pressure and blood sugar at higher doses.
  • Long-term use can cause problems with skin, bone, eye health and put you at a higher risk for infections.
  • If you've been using corticosteroids for more than 2 weeks, you will need to work with a doctor to get off the medicine slowly.
  • Limited studies conducted with use of steroids during pregnancy or breastfeeding - potential harm to unborn baby.
  • Adults age 65 or older might be more sensitive to the side effects of Marinol (dronabinol), especially mental/physical ability impairment, psychological changes, and blood pressure changes.
  • This medicine might actually worsen nausea/vomiting or cause stomach pain. If this happens, your doctor can change your dose or stop the medicine.
  • Can cause dry mouth and effect your dental health, so maintain good dental hygiene.
  • Can help with appetite stimulation, but does not stimulate weight gain.
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Used for
  • Allergies
  • Skin Conditions
  • Endocrine Conditions
  • Eye Conditions
  • Stomach Conditions
  • Respiratory disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis flare
  • Hematologic Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune and Rheumatic Conditions
  • Immune thrombocytopenia
  • Acute mountain sickness
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Prevention of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Treatment of appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS
  • Treatment of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Treatment and prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
Price
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Reviews
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Side effects
The Decadron (dexamethasone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Marinol (dronabinol) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Lowered adrenal function
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Increased risk for infections
    • Taking other immunosuppressants
    • Long-term treatment
    • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
    • Contact with people who have viral illness
    • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Changes in heart and kidney function
    • Recent heart attack
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
    • History of stomach bleeding
    • Active or history of stomach ulcers
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Taking Decadron (dexamethasone) with other medicine that can cause stomach problems
  • Bone effects
    • Dose of Decadron (dexamethasone)
    • Duration of treatment
  • Eye problems
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Impairment of mental or physical abilities
    • Taking other medicines that cause drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
  • Heart and blood vessel changes
    • History of heart problems
    • Used with other medicines that have similar effects on the heart and blood vessels
  • Substance abuse
    • History of subastance abuse
    • History of alcohol dependence
  • Hypersensitivity (allergic) reaction
  • Mood and behavior changes
    • History of mental illness
See more detailed risks and warnings