Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dehydrate)

Symbicort is a combination therapy for COPD containing an inhaled corticosteroid, budesonide and a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA), formoterol. Symbicort is a long-term maintenance treatment and should not be used as a rescue medicine for treating sudden breathing problems.

What are the ingredients in Symbicort?

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

How does Symbicort work?

Symbicort contains two active ingredients with two different mechanisms of action to manage COPD symptoms: budesonide and formoterol. Budesonide helps to decrease inflammation in the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Formoterol helps the muscles around the airways in the lungs stay relaxed to prevent symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

What are the possible side effects of Symbicort?

For patients in clinical trials that were treated with Symbicort, common side effects included:

  • Throat irritation
  • Fungal infection in the mouth and throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Other side effects caused by treatment with Symbicort include: pneumonia, eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts, LABA-related side effects, such as chest pain, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and headache, increased wheezing, increased risk of infections, adrenal insufficiency, weakened bones, high blood glucose levels and low blood potassium levels. These are not all the possible side effects of Symbicort. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with Symbicort.

Things to know about Symbicort

After each dose of Symbicort, patients should rinse their mouth with water and spit the water out to prevent getting a fungus infection in the mouth and throat.

Before starting Symbicort, patients should tell their healthcare professionals about all medical conditions, particularly if they:

  • Have heart problems
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have seizures
  • Have thyroid problems
  • Have diabetes
  • Have liver problems
  • Have osteoporosis
  • Have immune system problems
  • Have any type of viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection
  • Have been exposed to chicken pox or measles

While on Symbicort, other medicines containing LABA should not be used. Before starting treatment with Symbicort, patients should talk to their doctor about all medications (prescription and over-the-counter), herbal supplements, and vitamins they are taking. Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant since It is not known if Symbicort can harm an unborn baby. Budesonide, one of the active ingredients in Symbicort, can pass into breast milk so patients should tell their doctors if they are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

Dosing information

Symbicort should be taken every day as 2 inhalations 160mcg (budesonide)/4.5mcg (formoterol fumarate dehydrate), twice daily, about 12 hours apart.

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

Written by: Amna Rizvi | Last reviewed: April 2018
View References
  1. Symbicort Prescribing Information. https://www.azpicentral.com/symbicort/symbicort.pdf#page=1. Accessed April 4, 2018