Oral budesonide

Sounds like 'bue-DES-oh-nide'

Easy-to-read medicine information about budesonide – what is it, how to take budesonide safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines called corticosteroids
  • Entocort®

What is budesonide?

Budesonide capsules are used to treat certain bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

It is a corticosteroid hormone that works by calming the body's immune system, and reducing inflammation in the gut. In this way budesonide may decrease symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea. It does not cure these conditions.


The usual dose of budesonide is 9 milligrams (3 capsules) once a day for 8 weeks.

Always take your budesonide exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much budesonide to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take budesonide

Take budesonide once a day, in the morning. Budesonide is best taken about 30 to 60 minutes before a meal. Swallow your capsules, with a glass of water. Do not break, chew or crush the capsules for the following reason:

  • Budesonide capsules are designed to release the medication slowly in the lower part of the small bowel and the first part of the large bowel.
  • Breaking, chewing or crushing the capsules will cause all the contents to be released at once and will increase your chance of side effects.

If you forget your dose now and again, it is not necessary to make up for the dose you missed. Just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Keep taking budesonide. It may take 2 to 4 weeks before you get the full effect. 

Do not stop taking budesonide suddenly; speak to your doctor before stopping. Often you will be given a tapering dose meaning you take a lower dose in the last 2 to 4 weeks before you stop the medication.

Special instructions

It is best that you not drink grapefruit juice while you are on budesonide. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of budesonide in your bloodstream. This increases your chance of side-effects.

It is important to tell any health professional taking care of you that you are taking budesonide.

Taking budesonide can increase your risk of all types of infections. Tell your doctor if you come into contact with someone who has a contagious illness such as chickenpox or measles, or feel unwell.  

Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breast-feeding.

Possible side effects

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

Side effects What should I do?
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness, feeling tired
  • These are quite common when you first start taking budesonide, and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Changes in mood or behaviour 
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bad dreams
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Problems with your stomach such as stomach pain, blood in your stool, or dark coloured stool
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Learn more

The following links provide further information on budesonide:

Entocort® Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Last reviewed: 24 Mar 2016