1. About inhaled beclometasone
They are known as "preventer" inhalers and are often brown or beige. If you have asthma or COPD, they help stop you getting symptoms.
Beclometasone inhalers are available on prescription only. Some inhalers contain beclometasone mixed with other medicines that help your breathing.
Beclometasone (sometimes written as "beclomethasone") is a type of medicine known as a corticosteroid (or steroid).
It also comes as:
2. Key facts
- Use your beclometasone inhaler every day for it to work, even if you do not have any symptoms.
- It's important to rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after using a steroid preventer inhaler. This is to prevent infections and a sore mouth.
- You may get a blue steroid treatment card if you need high doses of beclometasone to control your symptoms. You may also need to carry a steroid emergency card. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about both of these.
- You'll usually be given another inhaler called a "reliever" to relieve your symptoms when they occur.
- Beclometasone sometimes comes mixed with formoterol. This type of inhaler is both a preventer and a reliever, and brand names include Fostair.
- Do not change your brand of steroid inhaler without checking with your doctor first.
3. Who can and cannot use beclometasone inhalers
Children aged 5 years and older can use beclometasone inhalers for asthma.
Adults can use beclometasone inhalers for asthma or COPD.
Beclometasone is not suitable for some people. To make sure it's safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to beclometasone or any other medicines in the past
- cannot have alcohol for any reason (some brands contain a very small amount of alcohol)
- have ever had TB (tuberculosis)
- are pregnant or trying to get pregnant – your doctor may want to lower your dose
- are being treated for viral or fungal infections
4. How and when to use your inhaler
The usual dose is 1 or 2 puffs, taken twice a day.
It's important to use your beclometasone inhaler regularly to manage your condition. Keep using it, even if you do not have any symptoms. After using your inhaler, always put the lid back on to keep it clean.
Always follow the instructions from your doctor, or your asthma or respiratory nurse. They may tell you to use your inhaler more often, up to 4 times a day, or to have more than 2 puffs at a time. This depends on how bad your breathing is and which inhaler you're using.
Different types of inhalers
There are different types of beclometasone inhaler. It's very important to use your inhaler properly. This is so you get the right amount of beclometasone into your lungs and the most benefit from your medicine.
Before using your inhaler, read the information leaflet that came with it. This leaflet contains instructions and diagrams to show you how to use the inhaler, how to keep it clean, and how long to use it before getting a replacement.
Watch a video
Asthma UK has some short videos showing you how to use your inhaler to help you manage your symptoms. You can search by type of inhaler and by brand (such as Clenil, Fostair or Qvar).
If you use a pressurised metered-dose inhaler for example, you can watch a pMDI video.
Check your inhaler technique
To get the most from your inhaler, it's important to have your technique checked regularly.
If you're not sure how to use your inhaler, or your technique has not been checked for a year, ask your doctor, nurse or a pharmacist to watch you use it.
It’s very important to use your inhaler properly. This is so you get the right amount of beclometasone into your lungs and the most benefit from your medicine.
Using your inhaler with a spacer
If you or your child find it difficult to use an inhaler, your doctor or nurse may give you a spacer to use with it. Spacers can reduce the risk of side effects affecting your mouth and throat. They are particularly useful for giving beclometasone to young children.
A spacer is a large plastic container with a mouthpiece and a hole for the inhaler. It makes it easier to get the right amount of beclometasone into your lungs.
Your doctor, nurse or a pharmacist can show you how to use a spacer with your inhaler.
Will my dose go up or down?
Your dose may go up or down depending on how bad your breathing is. You will be prescribed the lowest dose that controls your symptoms.
If you have agreed a personal action plan with your doctor or nurse, follow your action plan.
What if I forget to use it?
Use your inhaler as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed one and take your next dose as usual.
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
Do not stop using beclometasone suddenly, even if you feel better, without speaking to your doctor or nurse first.
What if I take too much?
Taking too much beclometasone by accident is unlikely to harm you.
If you're worried, talk to your doctor or a pharmacist.
If you are using a steroid inhaler regularly, ask your doctor, nurse or a pharmacist if you need to carry a blue steroid card.
If you need any medical or dental treatment, show your blue steroid card to the doctor, dentist or pharmacist so they know that you're taking beclometasone.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, beclometasone can cause side effects although not everyone gets them.
With inhaled beclometasone very little medicine gets into the rest of your body, so it's unlikely to give you side effects.
If you’re on high doses of beclometasone, or you’re also taking other steroid medicines or tablets for fungal infections or HIV, you may get underactive adrenal glands as a side effect. Ask your doctor if you need to carry a steroid emergency card.
Common side effects
These common side effects may happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Keep taking the medicine but talk to your doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- oral thrush – a fungal infection that causes white patches, redness and soreness in your mouth
- dry or sore throat, or hoarse voice
Serious side effects
It's unusual to have any serious side effects when using a beclometasone inhaler.
Side effects are more likely if you're on a higher dose of beclometasone for a long time (more than a few months).
Tell a doctor straight away if you get:
- high temperature, chills, a very sore throat, ear or sinus pain, a cough, coughing up more mucus (phlegm) or a change in colour of your mucus, pain when you pee, mouth sores or a wound that will not heal – these can be signs of an infection
- "moon face" (a puffy, rounded face), weight gain in the upper back or belly – this happens gradually and can be a sign of Cushing's syndrome
- a very upset stomach or you're being sick (vomiting), very bad dizziness or passing out, muscle weakness, very tired, mood changes, loss of appetite and weight loss – these can be signs of adrenal gland problems
- changes in your eyesight, such as blurred vision or a cloudy lens in the eye – these can be signs of increased pressure in your eyes (glaucoma) or a cataract
Serious allergic reaction
It happens rarely but it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to beclometasone.
This is different to an asthma attack. If you or your child have asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or have tightness in the chest or throat, use a reliever inhaler. If the symptoms do not improve or get worse, call 999 or go to A&E.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
Children and teenagers
Taking beclometasone at higher doses for a long time can slow down the normal growth of children and teenagers.
Your child's doctor will monitor their height and weight carefully for as long as they're taking this medicine. This will help them spot any slowing down of your child's growth and change their treatment if needed.
Even if your child's growth slows down, it does not seem to have much effect on their overall adult height.
Talk to your doctor if you're worried. They will be able to explain the benefits and risks of giving your child beclometasone.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
These are not all the side effects of beclometasone. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- oral thrush – try rinsing your mouth with water or brushing your teeth after using your inhaler to stop this happening. If you get oral thrush ask a pharmacist to recommend a suitable treatment such as a mouth gel and get them to check that you're using your inhaler correctly. They may suggest that you see your doctor to discuss the best treatment.
- dry or sore throat, or hoarse voice – try rinsing your mouth with water or brushing your teeth after using your inhaler to stop this happening. Using a spacer with your inhaler can also help.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Beclometasone and pregnancy
Beclometasone inhalers are safe to use during pregnancy. Since it is taken into the lungs, very little of the medicine gets into your bloodstream and almost none gets to your baby. Even if a small amount does get to your baby, it will not harm them.
It's important to keep using beclometasone in pregnancy to ensure that your asthma or COPD is well controlled. Having a lung condition and breathing difficulties is dangerous for you and your baby.
You may find that you need extra beclometasone during pregnancy. This is fine and it's safe to increase the dose if you need to.
If your asthma or COPD gets worse during pregnancy then contact your doctor, midwife or specialist.
For more information about how using a beclometasone inhaler might affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read this leaflet on inhaled corticosteroids on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.
Beclometasone and breastfeeding
It's OK to use your beclometasone inhaler as normal while you're breastfeeding.
When beclometasone is used as an inhaler, tiny amounts are likely to be in breast milk. It is very unlikely to cause any side effects in your baby.
If you notice that your baby is not feeding as well as usual, or if you have any other concerns about your baby, talk to your health visitor, midwife or doctor as soon as possible.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and beclometasone interfere with each other. This can increase your chance of side effects, or it may mean changing your beclometasone dose.
Check with a pharmacist or your doctor if you're taking:
- medicines used to treat HIV such as ritonavir or cobicistat
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- other medicines that contain steroids such as eczema creams, other asthma inhalers, tablets, injections, nasal sprays and eye or nose drops
- medicines used to treat alcohol addiction (some brands contain a very small amount of alcohol)
- metronidazole, an antibiotic (some brands contain a very small amount of alcohol which you cannot take with this antibiotic)
- antifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole or itraconazole
Mixing beclometasone with herbal remedies or supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements while taking or using beclometasone. Ask a pharmacist for advice.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does beclometasone work?
Beclometasone is a steroid (corticosteroid) medicine.
Steroids closely copy the effects of natural hormones produced in your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are next to your kidneys.
Beclometasone inhalers are called preventers. They work by calming down your immune system. This reduces the swelling in your lungs that makes it difficult to breathe. It also prevents you getting symptoms such as wheezing and coughing.
Beclometasone on its own does not help treat an asthma attack when you suddenly get coughing, wheezing and breathlessness.
A Fostair inhaler may be used as both a preventer and a reliever (to relieve any symptoms when you get them).
If you are coughing, wheezing or breathless, use your reliever inhaler.
How long does beclometasone take to work?
A beclometasone inhaler does not work straight away.
You'll usually start to wheeze less after using beclometasone for 3 to 7 days.
Once your symptoms have improved, you may find you need to use your other inhaler (called a "reliever") less often.
If your shortness of breath or wheezing does not get better after 7 days of using beclometasone, or if it gets worse, let your doctor or nurse know as soon as possible.
How long will I use my beclometasone inhaler for?
You'll usually use your beclometasone inhaler for a long time. It helps prevent your asthma or COPD getting worse.
It's important to keep using your inhaler even if you feel better.
Is it safe to use for a long time?
If you use your inhaler as recommended by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist you're unlikely to get any lasting side effects.
Inhalers generally deliver a small amount of steroid medicine exactly where you need it. This limits the amount of steroid reaching the rest of your body. It also keeps the risk of side effects as low as possible.
However, for children and teenagers using a high dose steroid inhaler, their height and weight need to be monitored carefully. This is to make sure the steroid is not affecting their growth. Talk to their doctor if you're worried. They will be able to explain the benefits and risks of giving your child beclometasone.
Adults taking high doses (either using an inhaler, or as tablets to help control more severe symptoms) have an increased risk of getting adrenal gland problems or weak bones (osteoporosis) over time. This is because more of the corticosteroid gets into your system.
Your doctor will monitor you closely and may prescribe medicines to help strengthen your bones. Calcium-rich foods (such as milk and cheese, or non-dairy milks with added calcium) and regular exercise can also help keep bones healthy.
What will happen if I stop using my beclometasone inhaler?
Do not stop using your beclometasone inhaler without speaking to your doctor first.
If you have an inhaler to control your asthma or COPD, your breathing problems may return if you suddenly stop using it.
You might feel wheezy or short of breath. Your chest may feel tight and you could start to cough.
Suddenly stopping treatment can make you feel unwell. Symptoms can include feeling drowsy, sick or tired, headaches and loss of appetite.
Is there anything I need to know about taking beclometasone and having surgery?
You do not need to stop beclometasone before surgery. Suddenly stopping treatment can make you feel unwell and may give you symptoms.
If you are having surgery or having emergency treatment, for example after an accident, tell the person treating you that you are taking beclometasone. Your doctor may decide you need extra steroids for a while.
If you have been given a blue steroid treatment card, show your card to anyone treating you so they can plan your treatment.
How does it compare with other preventer inhalers?
As well as beclometasone inhalers, there are other "preventers" that contain steroids such as budesonide, ciclesonide and fluticasone.
They can look very different, and some are for adults only.
It's important to use your own beclometasone inhaler. Your inhaler may be different to a friend's or relative's. Their inhaler might contain a different dose of beclometasone.
Preventer inhalers are different from the inhalers used during asthma attacks. These are called bronchodilators or "reliever" inhalers.
How do Fostair inhalers work?
Fostair inhalers contain beclometasone combined with formoterol.
Formoterol is a type of medicine called a bronchodilator and is similar to salbutamol. Bronchodilators (also known as "relievers") work by relaxing the muscles of the airways into the lungs. This makes it easier to breathe.
A Fostair inhaler can be used as both a preventer and a reliever (to relieve any symptoms when you get them). This means you may use it more often.
Your GP may tell you to use it every day as a preventer and also during an asthma attack as a reliever. Always follow the instructions from your doctor.
Do I need a steroid card?
Steroid emergency card (red card)
If you are prescribed steroid medicines such as beclometasone, your adrenal glands may not make as much of some of the hormones your body needs such as cortisol (known as the stress hormone). This is known as adrenal insufficiency.
It’s more likely to happen if you take high doses for a long time (especially tablets and injections) or if you regularly use different kinds of steroids at the same time (such as a steroid nasal spray and a steroid inhaler).
Your doctor or pharmacist will assess your risk of adrenal insufficiency based on the type and dose of steroids you’re taking, and may recommend that you carry a steroid emergency card. This card is the size of a credit card and fits in your wallet or purse.
If you need any medical or dental treatment, or are having surgery or an invasive procedure, show your steroid emergency card to your doctor or dentist. This is important so they know you are having steroid treatment and can give you extra steroids as needed.
Blue steroid card
If you are on a high dose of beclometasone, your doctor or pharmacist will also give you a blue steroid treatment card. It tells you how you can reduce the risks of side effects. It also gives details of your doctor, how much beclometasone you take and how long the treatment will last for.
If you need any medical or dental treatment, show your blue steroid card to the doctor or dentist.
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no clear evidence to suggest that taking beclometasone will reduce fertility in either men or women.
However, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor if you are trying to get pregnant.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking beclometasone.
Can I smoke if I use a beclometasone inhaler?
Try not to smoke. Smoking irritates the lungs and will make your breathing problem worse.
Beclometasone will also work better if you do not smoke.
Speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you're finding it hard to stop smoking. Stop smoking treatments are available on the NHS.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
For most people, using a beclometasone inhaler will not affect their ability to drive a car or cycle.
However, if your eyesight is affected in any way, do not drive or cycle.
Can lifestyle changes help with asthma?
There are several things you can do to help your condition when you're living with asthma. These include:
- stopping smoking – not smoking can significantly reduce how severe and frequent your symptoms are
- exercising regularly – exercise is unlikely to trigger your symptoms once you're on appropriate treatment
- eating healthily – aim for a varied, healthy diet and lose excess weight if you need to
- getting vaccinated – it's a good idea to have the annual flu jab and the one-off pneumococcal vaccination
Some people say that using an air filter or air purifier helps with their asthma symptoms. However, there needs to be more research into this.