What is the most important information I should know about betamethasone?
Before receiving betamethasone, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions or allergies, all medicines you use, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What is betamethasone?
Betamethasone is a steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
Betamethasone is used to treat many different inflammatory conditions such as allergic reactions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, inflammation of the joints or tendons, and problems caused by low adrenal gland hormone levels.
Betamethasone may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving betamethasone?
You should not be treated with betamethasone if you are allergic to it, or if you have idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).
Betamethasone can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection. Steroids can also worsen an infection you already have, or reactivate an infection you recently had. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- heart disease, high blood pressure;
- a thyroid disorder;
- a parasite infection that causes diarrhea (such as threadworms);
- herpes infection of the eyes;
- a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis;
- kidney disease;
- cirrhosis or other liver disease;
- mental illness or psychosis;
- a stomach ulcer, diverticulitis, colostomy or ileostomy;
- a perforation (a hole or tear) in your stomach or your intestines;
- malaria; or
- osteoporosis or low bone mineral density (steroid medication can increase your risk of bone loss).
Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis or if anyone in your household has tuberculosis. Also tell your doctor if you have recently traveled. Tuberculosis and some fungal infections are more common in certain parts of the world, and you may have been exposed during travel.
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.
How is betamethasone given?
Betamethasone is injected into a muscle, joint, or lesion, or given as a shallow injection just beneath the skin. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Your dosage needs may change if you have any unusual stress such as a serious illness, fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency. Tell your doctor about any such situation that affects you.
You should not stop using betamethasone suddenly. Follow your doctor's instructions about tapering your dose.
In case of emergency, wear or carry medical identification to let others know you use steroid medicine.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your betamethasone injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Since this medicine is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
High doses or long-term use of steroid medicine can lead to thinning skin, easy bruising, changes in body fat (especially in your face, neck, back, and waist), increased acne or facial hair, menstrual problems, impotence, or loss of interest in sex.
What should I avoid while receiving betamethasone?
While using this medicine: Do not receive a "live" vaccine. The vaccine may not work as well and may not fully protect you from disease.
- Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
- You may still be able to receive a yearly flu shot, or an "inactivated" or other vaccine to prevent diseases such as hepatitis, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles, HPV, or whooping cough.
- Ask your doctor before getting any vaccine.
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Call your doctor for preventive treatment if you are exposed to chicken pox or measles. These conditions can be serious or even fatal in people who are using steroid medication.
What are the possible side effects of betamethasone?
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- fast, slow, or irregular heartbeats;
- blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
- bumps on the skin, or raised blotches (purple, pink, brown, or red);
- chest pain, swollen glands;
- a seizure;
- swelling, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath;
- any wound that will not heal;
- pain and swelling or stiffness in your joints with fever or general ill feeling;
- severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back;
- severe depression, changes in personality, unusual thoughts or behavior; or
- increased adrenal gland hormones --weight gain in your face and shoulders, slow wound healing, skin discoloration, thinning skin, increased body hair, tiredness, mood changes, menstrual changes, sexual changes.
Betamethasone can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.
Common side effects may include:
- headache, depression, mood swings;
- sleep problems (insomnia);
- numbness, tingling, burning pain;
- skin redness, itching, or discoloration;
- thinning skin, stretch marks;
- muscle weakness; or
- nausea, bloating, stomach pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect betamethasone?
Many drugs can affect betamethasone. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
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