Beclomethasone (Inhalation)

Beclomethasone is a preventative steroid which is inhaled by adults and children over five years old to prevent asthma attacks.

Overview

Beclomethasone is a corticosteroid that is prescribed to patients who suffer from asthma. Beclomethasone is not fast-acting enough in order to stop an asthma attack that is already in progress; instead, it is prescribed to adults and children over five years old to be taken every day to reduce the chance of asthma attacks being provoked. It is a daily medication used to help patients with asthma have a better quality of life.

Asthma is a relatively common condition that causes breathing difficulties by restricting the amount of air that can be taken in by the lungs. By using an inhaler to administer this medication, patients breathe the active ingredients directly into the areas most affected by asthma. Taking a deep breath to inhale the medication allows the beclomethasone to be directly absorbed in airways to have the most effect when treating asthma.

Beclomethasone works by reducing three of the main symptoms associated with asthma. Firstly, it prevents the lining of the airways from becoming inflamed, which is one of the main reasons for the difficulty in breathing experienced by asthma sufferers. Secondly, the medication reduces the severity of any allergic reactions that can trigger asthma attacks. Finally, it prevents the body from producing so much mucus in the nose, lungs and airways, which leaves the airways clearer to allow normal breathing to continue.

Patients can usually see an improvement in their asthma as little as 24 hours after taking the medicine for the first time. However, the full effects usually become clear between one and four weeks after starting to take the drug on a regular basis.

It is important that patients continue to use the beclomethasone they have been prescribed even if they feel well, as this is the ultimate sign that the drug is working as it should. It should become part of the daily routine, so patients are advised to take the medication at the same time every day to help them remember. Taking the drug first thing in the morning can become an easy habit, or setting an alarm as a reminder can help.

Inhalers are a less precise method of administering a drug than tablets or capsules. If used incorrectly, it is possible that only part of the dose will enter the patient's system and, therefore, the course of treatment will not have its full effect. This is a particular concern with children who are using an inhaler for the first time. It is important to read and follow the instructions carefully and to speak to a doctor if you feel that you are not inhaling the full dose.

Conditions treated

  • Asthma

Type of medicine

  • Steroid

Side effects

Although beclomethasone is generally considered to be safe to use and is regularly prescribed to patients to successfully treat the symptoms of their asthma, as with any form of medication, there is always the possibility of side effects.

The most common side effects of beclomethasone include:

  • Sore throat
  • Oral thrush
  • Hoarse voice
  • Changes to the way things taste
  • Headaches

Those listed above are minor side effects which are not likely to cause further harm to the patient. They should not require medical attention unless particularly severe or long-lasting, and they may even disappear after a few days or weeks of treatment as the body gets used to the drug being in its system. There may be ways of preventing these side effects from occurring or ways of treating the side effects separately to the asthma if they become too much to handle.

The following possible side effects are less common, but are still possible for some patients who take the drug. These are slightly more severe, and if patients experience any of them for a prolonged period of time, they should contact their doctor or healthcare professional.

  • Aches and pains
  • Blocked nose or throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fevers
  • Runny nose
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Difficulty swallowing

In very rare cases, the following side effects have been associated with taking beclomethasone:

  • Problems with eyesight or pain in the eyes
  • Behavioural changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziniess, lightheadness and fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Rashes
  • Soreness in the mouth
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tightness in the chest

If any of the above symptoms occur and are persistent, patients should seek medical attention. Serious side effects should not be ignored and are unlikely to go away on their own. Do not stop taking the drug until medical attention has been sought.

Allergic reactions to beclomethasone are rare, but can and do occur. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inflammation of the face, lips and tongue
  • Swelling of the throat

Patients who experience any of the symptoms above after taking beclomethasone should seek urgent medical attention.

Dosage

Beclomethasone is a prescribed drug and, therefore, the dosage required for each patient will be determined by their doctor at the time of prescription. As with any prescribed drugs, it is important for patients to follow the instructions and advice of their doctor or healthcare professional extremely carefully.

In the case of beclomethasone, it is common for doctors to change the prescribed dose over time in order to respond to changes in the patient's condition and to find the best treatment plan for each individual. Patients should take care to ensure that they are always taking the most up to date dose recommended by their doctor, and should never exceed this dose.

If a patient misses a dose of their beclomethasone medication, they should take it as soon as they remember. If they do not remember until the time of their next dose, they should only take the second dose and ignore the missed dose. Patients should never double up on doses in order to make up for one which has been missed, as this can lead to an overdose of beclomethasone and can cause adverse effects.

Healthcare professionals will be able to determine the dose required depending on a combination of the following factors:

  • The severity of the condition
  • The medical history of the patient
  • Possible interactions with existing medication
  • The type of medication that has been previously used to treat the condition
  • The age of the patient

Doses will vary according to differences in the factors listed above. Doctors may experiment with different doses in order to find the correct balance for each particular patient. Patients should stick to the dose prescribed by the doctor and follow all instructions carefully. If the inhaler is not used as instructed, patients could find that they are not absorbing the whole dose.

Adults and children over the aged of 12

The usual doses prescribed to adults for the purpose of preventative asthma relief are as follows:

  • For patients who have been solely relying on bronchodilators to control their asthma: 40 to 80 mcg to be taken twice a day.
  • For patients who have previously been using beclomethasone or another corticosteroid to control their asthma: 40 to 160 mcg to be taken twice a day.

Doctors may decide to increase the prescribed dose to a maximum of 320 mcg twice a day if the patient does not respond adequately to the course of beclomethasone.

Children aged between 5 and 11 years

Young children are usually prescribed an initial dose of 40 mcg of beclomethasone to be taken twice a day. This dose may be increased to a maximum of 80 mcg if little or no response is seen after regularly taking the drug for four weeks.

For both children and adults, healthcare professionals may decide to decrease the initial prescribed dose once the patient's asthma appears to be under control. It is common for the dose to be set as low as possible, to maintain the patient's stable condition while minimizing any side effects associated with beclomethasone.

Interactions

As with all medications, it is possible for beclomethasone to interact with other chemicals and pharmaceuticals within the body. It is always advisable for patients to keep a list of all of the medications they are currently taking, both prescription and non-prescription, in addition to supplements such as vitamins, protein shakes or additional minerals. This list should be kept within easy access and should be taken every time the patient has a medical appointment or is taken into hospital. In the event of emergencies, it is useful for medical staff to be able to have access to this list, so, if possible, it should be kept on the patient at all times.

Interactions between medications can cause the treatment to be less effective, can increase the risk of side effects and could bring on completely new and potentially harmful side effects. Some interactions may occur in some patients but not in others, as all situations will be different. If you are worried about interactions between different medications, make an appointment to see your doctor and be sure to take a comprehensive and up to date list of all of the medications you are currently taking with you.

It is not possible to list all of the interactions there may be between beclomethasone and other drugs, but here is a list of the most common:

  • Immunosuppressants
  • Other corticosteroids
  • Chemotherapy
  • Aldesleukin
  • Certain lab tests
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • Mifepristone
  • Cyclosporine
  • Azathioprine

When you are prescribed a new medication, it is always important to make the doctor aware of any medication which you are already taking, or have been taking recently. Failing to disclose any non-prescription medications or supplements which you are taking could lead to interactions which could have been foreseen.

Sometimes, interactions can occur between pharmaceuticals and existing medical conditions. Certain drugs can make certain conditions worse, or can trigger previously dormant symptoms and cause them to resurface. In the case of beclomethasone, patients should let their doctor or healthcare professional know if any of the following statements are true:

  • You have a history of eye disease (eye pain, cataracts glaucoma, blurred vision)
  • You suffer from or have ever suffered from liver disease
  • You have ever been diagnosed with a problem with your thyroid
  • You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • You have been diagnosed with stomach problems or intestinal conditions, such as diverticulitis or stomach ulcers
  • You have ever suffered from bone loss due to osteoporosis or another condition
  • You currently have or have ever had any of the following infections: herpes, tuberculosis, fungal infections
  • You suffer or have suffered from anxiety, depression or psychosis
  • You have a haematological disorder.

All of the conditions listed above can, in some cases, interact with beclomethasone, either by making its treatment of asthma less effective or by increasing the chance of serious side effects. If any of the above statements are true, you should make your doctor aware so that they are able to make the best decision in your particular case.

Warnings

Do not spray the medication into the eyes. If the medicine does get into the eyes, rinse with clean water immediately.

It is not known whether beclomethasone will interact with pregnancy to affect unborn babies. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, speak to your doctor about continuing with your medication whilst pregnant. If the drug is taken during pregnancy, it is important to check for signs of low rates of corticosteroid hormones when the baby is born. Symptoms of low corticosteroids include of vomiting, severe diarrhea and general weakness in newborn babies, so take care to report any of these to doctors and make sure that they are aware that you were taking beclomethasone during pregnancy.

It is possible for beclomethasone to be absorbed into breast milk and to be passed onto babies with potentially harmful effects. For this reason, beclomethasone should not be taken by breast-feeding mothers. Patients who are breast-feeding or planning to breastfeed should speak to their doctor about other treatment options to manage their asthma whilst nursing a child.

Beclomethasone is not suitable to be taken by children under the age of five. If you have a young child who is suffering from asthma, you should speak to a doctor about other alternatives to control the condition.

Beclomethasone has been known to affect growth rates in children. Children who are taking beclomethasone regularly can start to grow at a slower rate. If your child is taking beclomethasone, it is important to monitor their growth rate carefully in order to make sure that the drug is not having a negative effect. Schedule regular appointments with the doctor in order to check that everything is on track.

Dependence on beclomethasone can have an effect on the way in which the body deals with physical stress and trauma. Patients undergoing any form of surgery or any invasive procedures, whether medical or dental, should inform their doctor, dentist or surgeon that they have been taking beclomethasone for some time. Following surgery, invasive procedures or physical stress, patients taking beclomethasone should be extra vigilant about taking the necessary amount of rest and about monitoring any unusual tiredness or weight loss. It is advisable for patients taking beclomethasone to carry a medical warning card or a medical ID tag or bracelet which clearly states that they use corticosteroid medication, in case of an emergency where a full medical history is not immediately available.

Due to the nature of the medication, it can suppress the symptoms of infection and can make it harder to spot when other conditions may be arising within the body. Taking beclomethasone regularly can increase the chances of patients developing infections, and can, in some cases, mask the signs of such infections so that they are only picked up once they have become more severe.

It is extremely important for patients taking corticosteroids, such as beclomethasone, to take extreme care with personal hygiene - for example, washing their hands well and at regular intervals, in order to prevent the spread of infections. Patients on beclomethasone should take care to avoid coming into contact with others who may be suffering from contagious infections, such as flu and chickenpox. If patients know that they have been exposed to such an infection, they should contact their doctor straight away, without waiting to present with any symptoms.

Beclomethasone has been known to hinder the effectiveness of certain vaccinations and immunizations. It is not advisable to have any vaccinations whilst taking this drug regularly, unless it has been previously discussed with a doctor and they have given their consent. It is also advisable to avoid direct contact with anyone who has recently been given a live vaccination.

Storage

As with all medications, beclomethasone inhalers should be stored in the packaging in which they were supplied. They should be labelled clearly to state the name of the medication and the dose on the outside. They should be stored within easy reach of any information or instruction booklets that were provided with the medication.

The cap should remain tightly closed and inhalers should be stored out of the sight and reach of children. Inhalers should not be kept anywhere where they can be exposed to excess moisture or in places where there is a large fluctuation in temperature. This means that they should not be kept in kitchens or bathrooms, but somewhere dry and at room temperature.

When empty or no longer required, inhalers should be returned to the doctor or pharmacist as part of a medication take-back program. They should not be disposed of by placing with household waste.

Summary

Beclomethasone is a drug given to treat patients who suffer from ongoing asthma. It is usually used in conjunction with other drugs to treat the asthma and maintain the patient's stable condition. Beclomethasone is not a fast-acting drug; it cannot be used to stop an asthma attack if one is already in progress, and so patients need to have another prescription on hand to be taken in the case of an asthma attack.

Beclomethasone is taken daily, even if the patient feels well, in order to prevent the asthma from being able to restrict the patient's breathing. By taking the drug every day, the symptoms of asthma are surpressed and patients are able to lead much healthier lives.

Beclomethasone is usually taken through an inhaler rather than via tablets or injections. This is because the areas affected by asthma are those associated with the respiratory system. By inhaling the drug, it can have direct and fast access to the areas where treatment is required: the airways.

There are certain side effects associated with using beclomethasone. The most common of these are sore throat, oral thrush, hoarse voice, changes to the way things taste and headaches. These side effects do not present themselves in all patients but are known to be fairly common among those who regularly take beclomethasone. Most of these side effects are likely to go away on their own once the body becomes accustomed to having the drug in its system. These side effects are unlikely to need medical attention as they are often temporary, manageable and are unlikely to be a sign of any more serious underlying conditions.

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Last Reviewed:
December 24, 2017
Last Updated:
April 02, 2018
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