Dexamethasone (generic for Decadron) is a steroid used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory conditions including croup, asthma and allergy. It is also used to prevent and treat acute mountain sickness. In the context of acute mountain sickness, recommendations are to carry dexamethasone for extended excursions above 3k-4k meters (10,000-12,000 feet). This medication is taken at the first sign of high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), a life-threatening form of altitude sickness, as an adjunct to the definitive treatment: immediate descent. HACE is characterized by unsteady gait (ataxia), confusion, stupor, and other severe neurologic signs.
You must not take dexamethasone preventively or continue to ascend while taking it. Dexamethasone can mask worsening symptoms of HACE.
Since dexamethasone can mask symptoms and cause rebound symptoms when it is stopped, you must descend to a lower altitude and seek definitive medical care after starting dexamethasone, and only stop taking it under medical direction.
|High altitude cerebral edema (HACE)||dexamethasone 4 mg by mouth every 6 hours|
Adult doses are shown, unless otherwise specified. Refer to weight-based dosing guidelines for pediatric patients.
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