What is Botox?
Botox (onabotulinumtoxin A), also known as Botulinum toxin type A, is made from the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum toxin is known to block nerve activity in the muscles. This causes a temporary reduction in muscle activity.
Botox is made from part of the donated human blood (plasma). This may contain infectious agents and viruses. Though, the plasma is treated and tested to reduce the risk of infection, there may still be a small possibility of contracting a disease. Consult your doctor regarding the pros and cons of using Botox.
Various uses of Botox:
• It can be used to treat severe spasms in the neck, also known as cervical dystonia.
• It is also used to treat stiffness in the limbs (muscles spasms).
• Helps in treating Hyperhidrosis or severe sweating in the underarm.
• It helps to treat certain eye conditions like uncontrolled spasm or blinking caused by nerve disorder.
• Botox helps to treat conditions like an overactive bladder and urine leakage or incontinence which can be caused by a nerve disorder like a multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
• Botox can be used to treat common headaches caused due to tension. Apart from this, migraine headaches which last for anywhere from 4 hours to 15 days can be treated with Botox.
• Botox is known to lessen appearance of wrinkles on the face.
What you need to know before you receive Botox:
The most important point to remember is that you should avoid Botox if you are allergic to botulinum toxin. Apart from this, avoid Botox if:
• The area where the medicine is to be injected is infected.
• If you have a bladder infection (in case of overactive bladder and incontinence).
• Avoid Botox if you are breast feeding your baby as it can pass into breast milk and cause harm.
To ensure if Botox is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
• Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”);
• Myasthenia gravis
• Problem in swallowing
• Lambert-Eaton syndrome
• Facial muscle weakness that includes droopy eyelids, trouble raising your eyelids, or a weak forehead.
• Any change in the normal appearance of your face
• Heart disease
• Bleeding problems
• Planning on or already had any surgery on the face.
• Been treated with injectable antibiotics or have been having blood thinners (Coumadin, warfarin etc.)
• If in the last four months you have received other botulinum toxin injections such as Myobloc or Dysport and have had a side-effect because of it.
• If you are pregnant or are planning on conceiving during the medication, inform your doctor as the effect of Botox on an unborn child is not known.
How is Botox given?
Only a trained medical professional, should administer these injections even when they are being used for cosmetic purposes.
The Botox is injected into the muscle and the doses have to be spaced at least 3 months apart. Depending on the condition being treated, it may be given in more areas than one at one time.
It is important to note that the effects of a Botox injection are temporary and may last for only about 3 months after which your symptoms may return completely. After repeated injections, your body may develop antibodies against the botulinum toxin, and then it may take less time before your symptoms reappear. It is always advisable to inform your doctor (in case you switch from one to another) regarding your last Botox injections.
Using Botox more often than what has been prescribed may not be a good idea as it could result in serious side effects.
Side effects of Botox:
Get medical help if you have any of the following signs:
• Feeling faint
• Swelling of your lips, tongue, throat or your face.
The botulinum toxin in Botox can spread to parts beyond the areas where it was injected. This may cause life-threatening side effects in some people.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these side effects. (These can occur up to several hours or even weeks after an injection).
• Unusual or severe muscle weakness (especially in a body area that was not injected with the medication);
• Trouble swallowing, breathing or talking
• Hoarse voice
• Drooping eyelids;
• Loss of bladder control;
• Swelling of the eyelids, drainage or crusting from your eyes.
• Problems with vision;
• Little or no urination and pain a burning sensation while urinating.
• Irregular heartbeats or pain in the chest.
Other common Botox side effects may include:
• Trouble in swallowing even after several months of treatment;
• Weakness in the muscles where the medicine was injected;
• Bruising, pain, bleeding, redness, or swelling in the injected area ;
• Tiredness, headache, stiffness of the muscles, pain in the arms, legs, neck or back.
• Blurred vision, dry mouth
• Profuse sweating in areas other than the underarms
• Stuffy nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, symptoms of a flu.
What other drugs will affect Botox?
Use of certain other medicines along with Botox may increase its side effects. Medication for allergies or cold, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, bronchodilators, medication for bladder or urinary infection, and medicines for irritable bowels. Hence, it is advisable to inform your doctor regarding your current medications if any. Sometimes over the counter herbal products or vitamin supplements may also interact with Botox and cause side effects.
What happens if a dosage is missed?
The effects of Botox are only temporary and the dosages are widely spaced, so it is unlike that missing a dose may be harmful.
What happens in case of an overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention immediately. These symptoms may not always appear right away, hence, it is important to be aware of them to seek medical attention in case they do appear.
What other precautions should one keep in mind?
Be very careful if you drive or have to do anything that may require you to be able to see clearly as Botox may impair your depth of perception and vision.
In case you are being treated for profuse sweating in the underarm area, it is advisable to avoid use of underarm deodorants or antiperspirants for 24 hours after a Botox injection. Getting back to your normal physical activities too soon after a Botox injection should be avoided.