Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dehydrate)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2022 | Last updated: June 2023

Symbicort is a combination therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It contains the inhaled corticosteroid budesonide and the long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) formoterol.1

Symbicort is a long-term maintenance treatment. It should not be used as a rescue drug for treating sudden breathing problems.1

What are the ingredients in Symbicort?

The active ingredients in Symbicort are micronized budesonide and micronized formoterol fumarate dehydrate.1

How does Symbicort work?

The active ingredients in Symbicort work differently to manage COPD symptoms. Budesonide helps to decrease inflammation in the lungs. This makes it easier to breathe. Formoterol helps the muscles around the airways in the lungs stay relaxed. This prevents symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.1

What are the possible side effects of Symbicort?

The most common side effect of Symbicort include:1

  • Sore throat
  • Thrush in the mouth and throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus infection
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Symbicort may also cause serious side effects, including:1

  • Pneumonia
  • Eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts
  • LABA-related issues like chest pain, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and headache
  • Increased wheezing
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Allergic reactions
  • Weakened bones
  • High blood sugar
  • Low potassium levels

If your breathing problems quickly worsen after taking Symbicort, contact 9-1-1 right away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Symbicort. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Symbicort.

Things to know about Symbicort

After each dose of Symbicort, rinse your mouth with water and spit the water out. This prevents fungus infections in the mouth and throat.1

Before taking Symbicort, tell your doctor if you have:1

  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immune system problems
  • Any infections
  • Been exposed to chickenpox or measles

There is not enough data to know if Symbicort is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Before taking this drug, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.1

Symbicort may interact with other medicines. Before beginning treatment for COPD, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Symbicort.

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