Otic corticosteroids are cortisone-like medications that are used to treat redness, swelling, and itching in the ears, which can be symptoms of certain ear problems.
This medication can only be purchased with a prescription. It is sold in two forms, which are oil and solution.
2 What to Know Before Using
Before beginning treatment with otic corticosteroids, discuss the pros and cons with your healthcare provider.
If you are allergic to drugs belonging to the same classification, inform your physician as you might also be allergic to otic corticosteroids. Also, tell your doctor if you have allergies to other medications, food dyes, animals, and/or preservatives.
Age-related factors should also be considered before using otic corticosteroids. Effects in elderly patients have not been found to be different as those experienced by younger adults.
Children born to mothers who used otic corticosteroids while pregnant should be monitored closely. They may be at risk of decreased growth and hypoadrenalism. Symptoms include weakness, low blood pressure, and anorexia.
Animal studies have demonstrated that using otic corticosteroids during pregnancy can cause birth defects. However, not enough research has been done on pregnant women. Corticosteroids can be passed to babies through breastfeeding. Discuss this with your physician.
This medication can have interactions with other drugs. Inform your doctor about the medications you are taking. Do not use over-the-counter drugs without consulting your physician first. Alcohol and tobacco may interact with otic corticosteroids. Your doctor may advise you to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking.
Also, ask your healthcare provider about foods that you need to avoid while on otic corticosteroids.
Another factor to be considered is any preexisting medical condition that may influence the effectiveness of this drug. Talk to your physician if you have type 2 diabetes mellitus, fungal infections, tuberculosis, viral infections, chronic otitis media or other ear infections, and glaucoma.
Using otic corticosteroids may be harmful in people who have high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, punctured ear drum, and epilepsy since it can exacerbate these conditions.
Ask your healthcare team to demonstrate the proper way to administer ear drops.
Generally, the steps include the following:
Lie down on the unaffected side so the ear to be treated is accessible.
Pull the earlobe up and back for adults, whereas for children, pull it down and back. This is to straighten the ear canal allowing the medicine to reach the bottom of the ear.
You can then proceed to administering the drops. Keep the ear facing upward for around 5 minutes so the medicine doesn’t leak out. You may also be advised by your doctor to plug your ear with a sterile medicated cotton plug.
Proper handling of the medication is important in order to keep it sterile. Do not let the applicator touch any surface and keep the container closed if not in use.
Follow doctor’s orders and use it only within the prescribed period. This medication must not be used to treat other infections other than the original condition. Consult your doctor first. You may be prone to worsening infection if you use otic corticosteroids while you have certain infectious conditions.
Dosing and timing is determined by your physician.
For betamethasone, adults and children may receive 2-3 medicated drops every 2 or 3 hours. This will be decreased by your physician once the symptoms are alleviated.
For dexamethasone, adults and children may receive 3-4 drops per ear, 2 or 3 times a day. Again, this will be decreased when symptoms are alleviated.
Take a missed dose if it’s not close to the next schedule. Otherwise, skip it and resume the normal timing. Keep this medication at room temperature and away from children. Do not keep expired medications.
4 Precautions To Take
You also need to take precautionary measures while you’re on otic corticosteroids. If your symptoms do not get better within a week or if they get worse, consult your healthcare provider.
Since this medication can lower your immune response, you need to guard yourself against infection.
While on treatment and a few weeks after treatment, do not get vaccinated without checking with your doctor first. Also, the people you live with must not get vaccinated for polio during and a few weeks after your treatment. Avoid people with infections and those who just got vaccinated.
As an extra measure, you can use a protective face mask.
5 Potential Side Effects
Otic corticosteroids can also cause side effects although most of them do not need medical treatment. These effects are different for each patient.
The less common side effects include anorexia, black or tarry stools, bone fractures, burning or stinging of the ear, breathing difficulties, chest pain, blurry vision, continual stomach pain or burning, excess hair growth in females, flushing, fainting, frequent urination, high blood pressure, headache, impaired wound healing, impotence in males, increased sweating and thirst, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, menstrual changes, muscle wasting, nausea or vomiting, rapid weight gain, seizures, suppressed growth in children, stomach bloating, swelling of feet or lower legs, thin fragile skin, suppressed reactions to skin tests, vertigo, tingling in arms and lower legs or feet, and weight loss.
Consult your physician if the side effects don’t go away or if they get bothersome. You may also want to ask about effective ways to prevent these side effects.
If you experience unusual side effects or those not listed here, get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
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