Qvar CFC-free inhalers, autohalers and easi-breathe inhalers all contain the active ingredient beclometasone dipropionate, which is a type of medicine known as a corticosteroid.
What is Qvar used for?
Beclometasone taken by inhaler is known as a 'preventer'. This is because it is taken regularly every day to reduce the inflammation in the lungs and prevent asthma attacks. Symptoms usually start to get better between three to seven days after starting treatment. However, it is important to keep using this medicine regularly, even after your asthma symptoms have improved, in order to prevent them coming back.
How does Qvar work?
- Qvar CFC-free inhalers, autohalers and easi-breathe inhalers all contain the active ingredient beclometasone dipropionate, which is a type of medicine known as a corticosteroid.
- Corticosteroids are hormones that are produced naturally by the adrenal glands. They have many important functions, including control of inflammatory responses. Beclometasone is a synthetic corticosteroid and is used to decrease inflammation in the lungs. (NB. Corticosteroids are often simply called steroids, but it should be noted that they are very different from another group of steroids, called anabolic steroids, which have gained notoriety because of their abuse by some athletes and body builders.)
- When beclometasone is inhaled into the lungs it is absorbed into the cells of the lungs and airways. Here it works by preventing the release of certain chemicals from the cells. These chemicals are important in the immune system and are normally involved in producing immune and allergic responses that result in inflammation. By decreasing the release of these chemicals in the lungs and airways, inflammation is reduced.
- In asthma, the airways tighten due to inflammation and can also be blocked by mucus. This makes it difficult for air to get in and out of the lungs. By preventing the inflammation and excess mucus formation, beclometasone makes it easier to breathe and helps prevent asthma attacks. It does not work to treat an asthma attack.
How is Qvar taken?
Beclometasone is taken using an inhaler device to treat asthma. Inhaling the medicine allows it to act directly in the lungs where it is needed most. It also reduces the potential for side effects occurring in other parts of the body, as the amount absorbed into the blood through the lungs is lower than if it is taken by mouth.
Qvar inhalers are usually used regularly twice a day. However, you should follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding when to use your inhaler and how many inhalations you should use each day. Don't exceed the prescribed dose.
If you use your reliever inhaler at the same time as this one, you should use the reliever inhaler first to open your airways, and then take your dose from this inhaler.
It is very important to learn how to use your inhaler correctly, as otherwise you won't be breathing the right dose of medicine into your lungs. Instructions will be provided with your inhaler. However, your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can also show you how to use your inhaler and can check that you are using it correctly.
- Qvar metered dose inhaler (sometimes called an MDI or aerosol inhaler) delivers the medicine as a fine spray or mist. With this inhaler you co-ordinate pressing down the canister and breathing in the spray. Follow this link for general instructions on how to use a metered dose inhaler. Qvar inhaler can also be used with a spacer device such as the AeroChamber Plus.
- Qvar autohaler is a breath actuated inhaler. It automatically releases a dose as you breath in through the mouthpiece. To take a dose you hold the inhaler upright, remove the cap from the mouthpiece and push the lever on the autohaler up so that it stays up. Then you breathe out fully, put the mouthpiece to your lips and breathe in steadily and deeply through your mouth. Don't stop breathing in when you hear the slight click and feel the puff in your mouth, as it is important to keep breathing in after the puff is released. Take the mouthpiece out of your mouth, hold your breath for about ten seconds then breathe out slowly. More detailed instructions are provided with the autohaler.
- Qvar easi-breathe inhaler is another breath actuated inhaler. It automatically releases a dose as you breath in through the mouthpiece. To take a dose you hold the inhaler upright and fold down the cap that covers the mouthpiece. Then you breathe out fully, put the mouthpiece to your lips and breathe in steadily and deeply through your mouth. Don't stop breathing in when you feel the puff in your mouth, as it is important to keep breathing in after the puff is released. Take the mouthpiece out of your mouth, hold your breath for about ten seconds then breathe out slowly. More detailed instructions are provided with the easi-breathe inhaler.
- Inhaled corticosteroids can sometimes cause a fungal infection in the mouth called oral thrush. To minimise the chances of this you should rinse your mouth with water or clean your teeth after inhaling each dose. Using a spacer device with your inhaler can also help avoid this problem. Consult your doctor if you develop white patches in your mouth or throat, as these are symptoms of thrush and it may need to be treated.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose. In this case, leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as usual when it is due. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
- Do not exceed the dose of this medicine that your doctor has prescribed for you. Qvar inhalers are not the same potency as other beclometasone inhalers, including other CFC-free beclometasone inhalers. This means that the dose of Qvar needed to control your asthma symptoms may not be the same as that needed from other beclometasone inhalers. If you have been switched to a Qvar inhaler from another beclometasone inhaler, the dose of Qvar that your doctor asks you to use may be lower than you used to take from your old beclometasone inhaler. If you are confused or unsure about how much medicine to take, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist to clarify it for you. Once you start using Qvar, your doctor should prescribe it by its brand name on your repeat prescriptions, to make sure you receive the same inhaler each time you get a repeat from the pharmacy. This is to avoid any confusion over your dose. Qvar inhalers may also have a different taste and feel than CFC-containing inhalers, however they are just as effective. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you have any problems or questions.
- Do not stop using your inhaler regularly every day, even if you don't have any symptoms, unless advised to by your doctor.
Qvar should be used with caution in
- People with a history of tuberculosis infection in the lungs.
- People with a chest infection or infection in the eyes or mouth.
- People who need to avoid alcohol for any reason. Qvar inhalers contain very small amounts of ethanol.
Qvar should not be used in
- People who are allergic to any ingredient.
- Qvar inhalers, autohalers and easi-breathe inhalers are not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- It is important that asthma is well controlled in pregnant women because severe asthma attacks can be dangerous to the pregnancy. Wherever possible, asthma medications should be taken by inhaler, as this minimises the amount of medicine that enters the bloodstream and crosses the placenta. It is generally considered that asthma inhalers can be taken as usual during pregnancy. For further medical advice talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
- Beclometasone may pass into breast milk. However, in general, asthma inhalers can be used as normal during breastfeeding, because the amount of medicine that passes into the breast milk after using an inhaler is negligable and unlikely to harm the baby. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.
Possible side effects of Qvar
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
- Thrush infection of the mouth and throat (oral thrush). This can usually be avoided by rinsing the mouth out with water and spitting it out immediately after each time you use your inhaler. If you do get oral thrush your doctor can prescribe an antifungal medicine to treat it.
- Throat irritation.
- Hoarse voice.
- Easy bruising.
- Unexpected narrowing of the airways (paradoxical bronchospasm).
- Systemic steroid effects such as Cushing's syndrome (moon-shaped face), suppression of the adrenal glands, cataracts, glaucoma, slowed growth in children and adolescents or decreased bone mineral density may occur, usually only after taking high doses for prolonged periods of time - see warning section above.
- Anxiety, depression or sleep disturbances.
- Behavioural changes, including hyperactivity, aggression and irritability (mostly in children).
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
If you think you have experienced a side effect from a medicine or vaccine you should check the patient information leaflet. This lists the known side effects and what to do if you get them. You can also get advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. If they think it's necessary they'll report it for you.
How can Qvar affect other medicines?
- This medicine is not expected to significantly affect any other medicines. However, as with all medicines it is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
- Qvar inhalers contain a small amount of ethanol (alcohol), which could theoretically have a reaction with disulfiram or metronidazole. However, as the amount of ethanol per dose is so small, this reaction is very unlikely to occur unless you are particularly sensitive to the reaction.
If you have any more questions please ask your Pharmacist.
Remember to keep all medicines out of reach of children
Please Note: We have made every effort to ensure that the content of this information sheet is correct at time of publish, but remember that information about drugs may change. This sheet does not list all the uses and side-effects associated with this drug. For full details please see the drug information leaflet which comes with your medicine. Your doctor will assess your medical circumstances and draw your attention to any information or side-effects which may be relevant in your particular case.