Pulmicort to prevent asthma

Pulmicort is also called budesonide

Pulmicort is used to prevent asthma. Find out how to use it safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids
  • To prevent asthma symptoms
  • Pulmicort Turbuhaler
  • Budesonide

On this page, you can find the following information:

What is Pulmicort?

Pulmicort is used to prevent asthma. It is also called a preventer because when used every day it prevents asthma attacks. Pulmicort works by preventing the swelling and irritation in the walls of the small air passages in the lungs. It belongs to a group of medicines known as corticosteroids.

Note: Pulmicort turbuhaler is used for some people with COVID-19 infection. See Pulmicort turbuhaler for COVID-19.

Using a Turbuhaler device enables the medicine to go straight into your airways when you breathe in. This means that your airways and lungs are treated, but very little of the medicine gets into the rest of your body.

Pulmicort Turbuhaler does not give immediate relief from an asthma attack
If you need quick relief from asthma symptoms or breathing problems, use your ‘reliever’ medicine such as salbutamol or terbutaline.

Dose of Pulmicort

  • Pulmicort Turbuhaler comes in different strengths (100 mcg, 200 mcg and 400 mcg).
  • The dose of Pulmicort Turbuhaler will be different for different people depending on the severity of your symptoms and the strength of your Turbuhaler.
  • The usual dose is 1 or 2 puffs inhaled twice a day.
  • Always take your Pulmicort exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

Tips

  • Keep using your Pulmicort every day. Do not stop using Pulmicort, even if you feel better. Since asthma is a long-term condition, prevention with Pulmicort is ongoing and it will need to be used every day for months or years.
  • Try to use Pulmicort at the same time each day, to help you to remember to use it regularly.
  • Pulmicort can cause a sore throat and hoarse voice - rinse your mouth after each use to prevent this.
  • If you miss a dose, you can take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take your next dose at the right time.

How to use a Pulmicort Turbuhaler

To get the most benefit, it is important to use the correct technique. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to explain how to use your inhaler. Even if you have been shown before, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to explain how to use your inhaler if you still have any questions. Here is some guidance.

 (Health Navigator NZ & Auckland District Health Board, 2018)

Using your turbuhaler

  • Open: unscrew and remove the cap. Hold the turbuhaler upright.
  • Load the dose: twist the base anticlockwise and then back in the other direction until you hear a click. Your turbuhaler is now loaded with one dose of medicine
  • Breathe out: breathe out, away from the turbuhaler. Do not blow directly into the turbuhaler.
  • Inhale your dose: place the mouth piece in your mouth and form a seal with your lips. Breathe in deeply. Remove the turbuhaler and hold your breath for up to 10 seconds.
  • Close: replace the cap and twist until it is on properly.

How to clean and store your Pulmicort turbuhaler

Wipe the mouthpiece with a clean dry tissue regularly, at least once a week. Do not use water or liquids when cleaning the mouthpiece or any part of the turbuhaler. 

Keep your turbuhaler in a cool, dry place with the cover firmly in place. Don't store it in the bathroom or near a sink. Keep the cap on when you're not using it. The device may clog up if you breathe out through it, dribble into it or keep it an place where there is high humidity (moisture in the air) with the cap off or unsealed.

How do you know when your Pulmicort turbuhaler is empty?

There is a window under the mouthpiece of the Pulmicort turbuhaler called a dose indicator window. You will need to check regularly to see if a red mark has appeared in the window. 

  • When the red mark appears at the top of the window, there are approximately 20 doses (inhalations) of medicine remaining. Now is the time to get your next Pulmicort turbuhaler.
  • When the red mark reaches the bottom of the window, your Pulmicort turbuhaler will no longer deliver the correct amount of medicine and should be discarded.
  • Note: the rattling you hear when you shake the turbuhaler is the drying agent built into the coloured base. It is not the medication. The rattling noise can be heard even when the turbuhaler is empty.

What are the side effects of Pulmicort?

Like all medicines, Pulmicort can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.

Inhaled steroids usually have fewer and milder side effects than when taken as tablets. However, using high doses of inhaled steroids over long periods can increase your risk of side effects. Learn more about taking steroids long term.    

Side effects What should I do?
  • Change in voice (hoarse voice)
  • Different taste in your mouth
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Cough 
  • Rinse your mouth after each use.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Signs of oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) such as a very sore tongue, throat or mouth, with white sores on the tongue, or in the mouth.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist  
  • Restless, feeling nervous, having mood changes and problems sleeping.
  • Tell your doctor or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116 
  • Blurred vision or changes to your eyesight
  • Tell your doctor or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

Learn more

Pulmicort Turbuhaler Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets
Budesonide (for inhalation) NZ Formulary

References

  1. Budesonide (for inhalation) NZ Formulary
  2. Position statement on budesonide use Therapeutic Technical Advisory Group, April 2022

Additional resources for healthcare professionals

Pulmicort Turbuhaler Medsafe, NZ
Inhaled and systemic corticosteroids and mood disorders Medsafe, NZ, 2016
The optimal management of patients with COPD – part 1 – the diagnosis BPAC, NZ, 2015
The optimal management of patients with COPD – part 2 – stepwise escalation of treatment BPAC, NZ, 2015

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 06 Jun 2019