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Symbicort

(SIM-bi-kort)

To prevent asthma symptoms including difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing, and to maintain airflow in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Disclaimer

The content on this page is not medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage are right for you.

Last updatedJuly 22, 2021

Symbicort

Symbicort is an inhaled aerosol for preventing difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing due to asthma in adults and children 6 years of age and older.

It is also used to maintain airflow in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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Generic name

Budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate
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Rx or OTC

Available by prescription only

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Black box warning

Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists (LABA), such as formoterol, one of the active ingredients in Symbicort, increase the risk of death from a severe asthma attack.

Symbicort should only be prescribed if your asthma is not adequately controlled on a long-term asthma control medication, such as an inhaled corticosteroid, or if your asthma severity clearly warrants treatment with both an inhaled corticosteroid and LABA.

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When & How

  • Take 2 puffs of Symbicort in the morning and 2 puffs in the evening every day.
  • Follow the prescription's step-by-step instructions for the right way to take.
  • After taking 2 puffs, rinse your mouth with water—do not swallow—and then spit it out.
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Do’s

  • If you miss a dose, take your next dose at the same time you normally do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about how to take Symbicort.
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Don’ts

  • Do not use Symbicort to treat sudden trouble breathing.
  • Do not use unless your doctor has taught you how to use it and you understand the instructions.
  • Do not use more often or take more puffs than prescribed.
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Discuss with your doctor

  • If your breathing problems get worse while taking Symbicort
  • If you are allergic to budesonide or formoterol
  • Any prescription or nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products you are currently taking
  • If you are taking Symbicort for asthma symptoms, ask your doctor how to treat an asthma attack. You will need a prescription for a short-acting inhaler to take during an attack.
  • If you are exposed to chickenpox or measles
  • If you have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • If you have diabetes
  • If you have osteoporosis
  • If you have liver problems
  • If you have eye problems such as increased pressure in the eye, glaucoma, or cataracts
  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, become pregnant while taking Symbicort, or if you are breastfeeding
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What is Symbicort?

Symbicort is an inhaled aerosol used to prevent difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing due to asthma in adults and children ages 6 and older.

It is also taken to maintain airflow in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Symbicort includes two medicines:

  • Budesonide is an inhaled corticosteroid, which reduces lung inflammation that can lead to asthma symptoms.
  • Formoterol is a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) that helps relax the muscles around the airways in the lungs to prevent symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath.

It is available by prescription only.

Symbicort dosages
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Inhaled aerosols

  • 80 mcg budesonide/4.5 mcg formoterol
  • 160 mcg budesonide/4.5 mcg formoterol

Similar drugs to Symbicort

Other inhaled corticosteroids similar to budesonide include:

  • Beclomethasone
  • Ciclesonide
  • Flunisolide
  • Fluticasone
  • Mometasone

Other long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) medications like formoterol include:

  • Arformoterol
  • Bambuterol
  • Clenbuterol
  • Salmeterol
  • Protokylol

Side effects

Disclaimer

Medications may affect individuals differently. Usage of any medication may include side effects and other interactions. Here is a list of known common side effects and interactions. This list is not exhaustive -- there may be other side effects or interactions for this medication that are not listed here. In some cases, the likelihood of side effects or interactions may increase depending on dosage. It’s important to keep in mind that in extreme cases, other serious side effects, even death, may occur. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage is right for you.

Headache (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

11% of people experience headaches

Common cold (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

10% of people experience common cold

Upper respiratory infection (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

10% of people experience upper respiratory infection

Sore throat (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

6% of people experience sore throat

Sinusitis (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

6% of people experience sinusitis

Stomach discomfort (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

6% of people experience stomach discomfort

Nasal congestion (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

3% of people experience nasal congestion

Vomiting (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

3% of people experience vomiting

Thrush (taking 160/4.5 mcg)

3% of people experience thrush

Full list of side effects

  • Common cold
  • Headache
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Throat pain
  • Sinusitis
  • Influenza
  • Back pain
  • Nasal congestion
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Thrush (fungal infection in the mouth and throat)
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Immune effects and increased infection risk
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Low bone mineral density (osteoporosis)
  • Slowed growth in children
  • Eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts
  • Swelling of blood vessels

Long-term complications

  • Decreases in bone mineral density or osteoporosis
  • Glaucoma or cataracts

Safety notes

  • Increased wheezing is possible right after taking Symbicort. Always have your rescue inhaler with you when taking Symbicort in case you need it to treat sudden wheezing.
  • Your breathing problems could still get worse while taking Symbicort. Go to the ER if your breathing problems worsen quickly or don't get better, even after using your rescue inhaler.
  • Thrush (fungal infection that causes white patches in the mouth and throat) may occur with Symbicort use.
  • If you are taking Symbicort for COPD, your doctor should watch for signs of pneumonia, especially since these could be similar to those seen with a COPD flare-up.
  • Symbicort might impair your immune system, which could make infections more serious.
  • If you have not been vaccinated against chickenpox or measles, be careful to avoid exposure to others who could be infected.
  • Adrenal insufficiency may develop if you are switching from an oral corticosteroid to Symbicort.

What else you should know

  • Always store Symbicort with the mouthpiece facing down.

Symbicort interactions

Disclaimer

Medications may affect individuals differently. Usage of any medication may include side effects and other interactions. Here is a list of known common side effects and interactions. This list is not exhaustive -- there may be other side effects or interactions for this medication that are not listed here. In some cases, the likelihood of side effects or interactions may increase depending on dosage. It’s important to keep in mind that in extreme cases, other serious side effects, even death, may occur. Always consult your health care provider or pharmacist to determine what medication and dosage is right for you.

Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medications or supplements

Taking Symbicort with certain drugs that are processed in a similar way to Symbicort may affect concentrations of either drug. These drugs include:

  • long-term ketoconazole (an antifungal drug) as well as other antifungal drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • HIV/AIDS medications (ritonavir, atazanavir, clarithromycin, indinavir, itraconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, saquinavir, telithromycin).

Symbicort should only be used if necessary by people taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants (or within 2 weeks of stopping these drugs) because the formoterol in Symbicort may cause blood vessel swelling when taken with these drugs.

Beta-blocker drugs, when taken with Symbicort, may block the effect of formoterol and could cause severe bronchospasm in people with asthma. In general, avoid taking beta-blockers with Symbicort.

Side effects of loop or thiazide diuretics can worsen when taken with Symbicort.

Tell your doctor if you have any of these pre-existing conditions

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immune disorders
  • Eye problems like glaucoma or cataracts

Symbicort pricing

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