Pulmicort turbuhaler for COVID-19

Pulmicort is also called budesonide

Pulmicort turbuhaler is used in some people with COVID-19 infection. Find out how to use it safely and possible side effects.

What is Pulmicort?

Pulmicort turbuhaler is used to treat some people with COVID-19 infection who meet certain criteria for its use. It is only useful when given within 14 days of the start of your COVID-19 illness so your doctors will decide whether you need this. 

Dose of Pulmicort for COVID-19

  • Pulmicort turbuhaler is available in different strengths. You will be given the 400 mcg strength.
  • The usual dose is 2 puffs inhaled twice a day for up to 14 days.
  • Use your Pulmicort exactly as your healthcare team 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.


  • Use your Pulmicort turbuhaler every day for as long as you are told to use it. Try to use Pulmicort at the same time each day, to help you to remember to use it regularly.
  • Rinse your mouth after each use. Pulmicort can cause a sore throat and hoarse(croaky) 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 healthcare team, doctor, pharmacist or nurse to explain how to use your inhaler. 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 up if you breathe or dribble into it. I can also clog up if you keep it in an area of high humidity with the cap off or unsealed.

What are the side effects of Pulmicort?

Like all medicines, Pulmicort can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. 

Common side effects

These are usually mild and go away with time. Tell your healthcare team if these side effects cause you problems or don’t go away:

  • change in voice (hoarse voice), different taste in your mouth
  • dry mouth or throat
  • cough. 

Tell your healthcare team if you develop 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. They can prescribe medicine to clear it. Remember to rinse your mouth after each use. 

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


  1. Position statement on budesonide use Therapeutic Technical Advisory Group, April 2022
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team. Reviewed By: Dr Helen Liley, Auckland Regional HealthPathways Clinical Editor Last reviewed: 05 Dec 2021