Using Qvar to Treat Asthma

How it works, side effects, and usage notes

Qvar
Qvar. Photo National Library of Medicine

Beclomethasone dipropionate, sold as Qvar, is an asthma controller medication in the corticosteroid class. Like other inhaled steroids such as Flovent or Pulmicort, Qvar is considered a first-line treatment to control asthma symptoms when you need to use your rescue inhaler more than twice per week. 

How Qvar Works

Qvar decreases inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in the lungs. Through its direct action into both small and large airways, Qvar makes it less likely that your lungs will respond to an asthma trigger.

Additionally, Qvar acts directly on a number of the different parts of the immune system that are involved in the pathophysiology of asthma such as:

Decreased inflammation, mucus production, and hyperresponsiveness results in a decrease in your asthma symptoms. While your rescue inhaler can be taken on an as-needed basis, Qvar needs to be used daily to control your chronic asthma symptoms. Qvar should not be used as a rescue inhaler when you develop acute asthma symptoms as it may make your asthma worse.

How Qvar Is Prescribed

Qvar is prescribed in either a 40 mcg or an 80 mcg metered dose inhaler (MDI). Each MDI has 100 doses. In order to be effective, Qvar needs to be taken every day, whether or not you're experiencing symptoms.

Qvar May Be Prescribed with a Beta Agonist

Qvar is prescribed by itself, but your doctor may have you also take a long-acting beta agonist such as Serevent to prevent asthma symptoms such as:

Possible Risks and Side Effects of Qvar

While Qvar is normally well tolerated, there is some risk of side effects with Qvar and other inhaled steroids. The adverse effects of Qvar are similar to the adverse effects of other inhaled steroids and will generally decrease with time.

If any of the adverse effects continue to be bothersome, be sure to let your doctor know.

Common Side Effects of Qvar

The most common side effects of taking Qvar include:

  • Headache
  • Sinus irritation
  • Throat irritation

Side Effects That Require Medical Attention

If you experience any of the following side effects while taking Qvar, let your doctor know right away:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Fever or chills
  • Vision changes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • White spots or redness in your mouth

How to Use Qvar

Using Qvar correctly is the single most important factor if it's going to improve your asthma symptoms. A large number of asthmatics fail to take their inhaled steroids as prescribed. Using Qvar only when your asthma gets worse is not appropriate and probably won't lead to good asthma control.

Using Qvar with a spacer increases the amount of medication reaching your lungs and decreases side effects. If you don't want to use a spacer, it's important to learn how to use an MDI appropriately.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor about your asthma if you notice any of the following:

  • Your asthma worsens after taking Qvar
  • Your rescue inhaler no longer relieves your asthma symptoms
  • You use your rescue inhaler more than twice per week

Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Asthma Care Quick Reference. Updated September 2012.

PubMed Health. Beclomethasone: By Breathing. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published November 1, 2017.

Qvar. How Qvar Works to Treat Asthma. Updated August 2017.

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