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

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.

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 two times 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.


  • 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.

Cleaning and storing your Turbuhaler: wipe the mouthpiece with a clean dry tissue. Do not wash the mouthpiece or allow it to get wet when cleaning. Keep the cap on when not in use. The device may clog if exhaled or dribbled into or if stored in an area of high humidity with the cap off or unsealed.

When to start a new Turbuhaler: there is a window under the mouthpiece on the outside of the Turbuhaler called a dose indicator window. When it turns red it is time to get a new Turbuhaler. 

Precautions before using Pulmicort

  • Are you breastfeeding?
  • Are you lactose intolerant?
  • Have you ever had pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start using Pulmicort. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

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) New Zealand Formulary


  1. Budesonide (for inhalation) New Zealand 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