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Side Effects
Serious

Vision problems, frequent urination, increased thirst, rectal bleeding, blistering skin, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, euphoria, depression, mood swings, redness and swelling at injection site. Call your doctor immediately.
Common

Increased appetite, indigestion, nervousness, insomnia, greater susceptibility to infections, increased blood pressure, slowed healing of wounds, unusual weight gain, easy bruising, fluid retention.
Less Common

Change in skin color, dizziness, headache, increased sweating, unusual growth of body or facial hair, increased blood sugar, peptic ulcers, adrenal insufficiency, muscle weakness, cataracts, glaucoma, osteoporosis.
Betamethasone Systemic


Drug Class:
Corticosteroid

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Syrup, tablets, extended-release tablets, injection, rectal solution

Why Prescribed
To treat numerous conditions that involve inflammation (a response by body tissues, producing redness, warmth, swelling, and pain). Such conditions include arthritis, allergic reactions, asthma, some skin diseases, multiple sclerosis flare-ups, and other autoimmune diseases. Also prescribed to treat deficiency of natural steroid hormones.

How It Works
Betamethasone mimics the effects of the body's corticosteroids. It depresses the synthesis, release, and activity of inflammation-producing chemicals. It also suppresses immune system activity.

Range and Frequency
Adults-- Syrup or tablets: 600 micrograms (mcg) to 7.2 mg a day, as a single dose or in divided doses. Extended-release tablets: 2 to 6 mg a day to start, then as ordered by your doctor. Injection: Up to 9 mg a day. Rectal solution: 5 mg, given as an enema at night. Consult pediatrician for children's dosage.

Onset of Effect
Within 1 hour. It may take 2 to 4 days for full effect.

Duration of Action
More than 3 days for oral forms; 24 hours or more for other forms.

Dietary Advice
Take it with food or milk to minimize stomach upset. Your doctor may recommend a special diet.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If you take several doses a day and it is close to the next dose, double the next dose. If you take 1 dose a day and you do not remember until the next day, skip the missed dose and do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
With long-term therapy, do not stop taking the drug abruptly; the dosage should be decreased gradually.

Prolonged Use
See your doctor regularly for tests and examinations. Long-term use may lead to cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, or osteoporosis.

Over 60
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
May cause stomach problems; avoid alcohol unless your doctor approves occasional moderate drinking.

Pregnancy
Overuse during pregnancy can retard the child's growth and cause other developmental problems. Consult your physician.

Breast Feeding
Do not use while nursing.

Infants and Children
Betamethasone may retard the normal growth and development of bone and other tissues. Consult your doctor for advice.

Special Concerns
Avoid immunizations with live vaccines if possible. This drug can lower your resistance to infection. Patients undergoing long-term therapy should wear a medical-alert bracelet. Call your doctor if you develop a fever.

Overdose Symptoms
Fever, muscle or joint pain, nausea, dizziness, fainting, difficulty breathing. Prolonged overuse: Moonface, obesity, unusual hair growth, acne, loss of sexual function, muscle wasting.

What to Do
Seek medical assistance immediately.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking aminoglutethimide, antacids, barbiturates, carbamazepine, griseofulvin, mitotane, phenylbutazone, phenytoin, primidone, rifampin, injectable amphotericin B, oral antidiabetes agents, insulin, digitalis drugs, diuretics, or medications that contain potassium or sodium.

Food Interactions
Avoid excess sodium.

Disease Interactions
Consult your doctor if you have a history of bone disease, chicken pox, measles, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, recent serious infection, tuberculosis, glaucoma, heart disease, hypertension, liver or kidney disorders, high blood cholesterol, overactive or underactive thyroid, myasthenia gravis, or lupus.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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