Have you recently started using a Zema-pak or been told that you’ll be prescribed it to treat a specific illness or symptom? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll explain what Zema is, what it treats, how to take it, and what you need to know to safely use the drug.Feature image source: NIH.gov
What’s Zema Used For?
A Zema-pak tablet is an oral corticosteroid hormone that’s used to treat a number of different conditions. Zema’s generic name is dexamethasone.
Dexamethasone is used to treat a variety of different conditions, including allergic reactions, arthritis, adrenal gland disorders, bowel disorders, skin conditions and certain cancers. Dexamethasone can also be used to treat symptoms caused by illnesses like Lyme disease.
Corticosteroid hormones like dexamethasone are used to decrease your body’s natural defensive response. For instance, someone with ulcerative colitis may take dexamethasone to decrease inflammation in their large intestine.
Zema-Pak Dosage and Administration
Zema-paks come in three separate doses: the 6-day pack, the 10-day pack, and the 13-day pack. The 6-day pack contains 21 tablets, the 10-day pack contains 35 tablets, and the 13-day pack contains 51 tablets. Each tablet is a Zema-pack is a 1.5mg dexamethasone pill.
Corticosteroids like dexamethasone can cause dependency and can be dangerous if you stop taking them without warning. Each Zema-pak is designed to slowly and carefully help you stop using the drug.
You should take each of the pills in the Zema-pak by mouth as directed by your doctor. To avoid upsetting your stomach, take the pill with food or milk. You should also drink at least one full glass of water when taking the medicine.
Make sure you take your pill at the same time each day, for the entire length of the prescription. If, for instance, you’re on a 10-day Zema-pak and start to feel better around day six, you should still take the rest of the pills until you finish the pack. Stopping the medication suddenly can lead to serious side effects or the return of symptoms that you were initially trying to ease.
Zema Drug Name and Manufacturer
While there are both brand name and generic versions of dexamethasone, Zema-paks in particular are only available in the 6, 10, or 13 day packs.
Zema Side Effects
Corticosteroids can have serious long and short-term side effects. If you’re experiencing any side effects from your Zema-pak that cause you distress or discomfort, you should seek help from a medical professional.
If you’re taking dexamethasone for a long period of time, you should visit your doctor regularly to monitor you for long-term, unwanted side effects.
Minor Side Effects
The following side effects are minor and do not require immediate medical care. However, if you experience any of these side effects and they worsen, are bothersome, or if you have any questions about them, you should speak with your doctor.
- Noisy breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
Major Side Effects
The following side effects are more severe and require medical attention from your doctor.
- Darkening of skin
- Decrease in height
- Facial hair growth in females
- Increased risk of serious infection
- Menstrual irregularities
- Skin rash
- Trouble thinking, speaking, or walking
Long-term use of corticosteroids like a Zema drug pack can lead to serious personality changes, such as increased aggression and irritability. While these side effects may seem minor at first, they can increase and become more out-of-control as time goes on.
Corticosteroids can also put you at greater risk of developing serious infections. If you have any signs of infections, such as prolonged fever or sore throat, make sure you inform your doctor.
Precautions for Taking Zema
Before starting a new drug, it’s important to keep your doctor informed about your medical history so he or she can plan for any potentially dangerous side effects. In particular, make sure you inform your doctor about allergies, infections, kidney or liver disease, mental or mood conditions, high blood pressure, heart problems, brittle bones, and history of blood clots.
Interactions to Avoid While Taking Zema
Do not get any new immunizations, vaccinations, or skin tests while taking dexamethasone, as you may be at increased risk for infection. You should also avoid people who’ve recently gotten the oral polio vaccine or have inhaled the flu vaccine.
Dexamethasone can make it difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. You may need to adjust your medicine or diabetes treatment plan while taking a Zema-pak.=
If you have a history of ulcers, you should avoid drinking alcohol while on dexamethasone, as it may increase your risk of intestinal bleeding.
There are many drugs that may interact with dexamethasone. You should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication to ensure that it interacts properly.
Here are some medications that may interact with Zema-paks:
- Birth control pills
- Certain cancer drugs (dasatinib, lapatinib)
- Estrogen hormone replacements
- HIV inhibitors
- Seizure medications like Phenytoin
You should always inform your doctor or pharmacist that you’re taking a Zema-pak if you need to start another medication.
Recap: What Is Zema?
Zema is a corticosteroid that’s used to treat a variety of conditions from skin rashes to Lyme disease. Zema-paks are brand name and come in three standard doses: 6-day, 10-day, and 13-day. Your doctor will work with you to determine the dosage that’s right to meet your needs.
As with any drug, Zema has potential side effects, ranging from minor, such as headache, to major, such as depression. If you’re experiencing any side effects that cause you discomfort or seem particularly dangerous, you should contact your doctor.
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Rose is a staff writer for PrepScholar.