In MS, relapses are times when new symptoms suddenly appear or existing symptoms worsen, caused by damaging inflammation in the central nervous system. Corticosteroids like dexamethasone are used to dampen this inflammation, easing the symptoms of acute relapses and accelerating their resolution. Although useful for short-term symptom relief, corticosteroids do not affect the overall progression of MS.
Dexamethasone may cause harm to a developing fetus and should only be used during pregnancy if the risks are outweighed by the potential benefits of such treatment. Patients and their healthcare providers should discuss these decisions in detail based on the unique situation of the individual.
There is no known interaction between alcohol and dexamethasone. However, some corticosteroid side effects (e.g., increased blood pressure) are similar to the impact of alcohol on the body, and drinking alcohol while on dexamethasone may increase the chance that a person experiences these effects. People on dexamethasone are advised to talk to their healthcare team about whether and how much alcohol is safe to drink during treatment.
Since dexamethasone treatment is typically tailored to a person’s needs, and every person may respond differently to a given medication, it may be hard to predict when someone with MS will respond to this therapy. In the majority of MS patients, relapse symptoms ease within a few days of corticosteroid treatment, but this can vary greatly between different individuals.
Increased appetite and weight gain are common side effects of corticosteroids, including dexamethasone. Thinning scalp hair also is indicated on the medication’s label as a possible side effect. Patients should talk with their healthcare provider about any specific side effects they experience.
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