Symbicort is used to treat the symptoms of asthma and COPD and to prevent them from recurring. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
What is Symbicort?
- Budesonide is a corticosteroid. When inhaled, it prevents swelling and irritation in the walls of the small air passages in your lungs. It is also called a preventer, because when used every day it prevents shortness of breath and wheezing.
- Formoterol is a long-acting, fast onset bronchodilator. It relaxes and opens up your air passages, making breathing easier.
In New Zealand, Symbicort is available in different strengths: Symbicort 100/6, Symbicort 200/6 and Symbicort 400/12.
Symbicort has different uses
If you are using Symbicort for COPD, it must be used regularly twice a day every day as a preventer. Read more about medicines for COPD.
If you are using Symbicort for asthma, it can be prescribed in three different ways:
- regular preventer (and using a different inhaler as a reliever such as salbutamol)
- regular preventer plus also using the same inhaler as a reliever when needed*
- reliever only without also taking it as a preventer.*
The choice between these three options should be discussed with your doctor, and is based on the severity of your symptoms.
*Note: The high dose 400/12mcg strength Symbicort cannot be used as a reliever.
If you have mild asthma, you can simply use one puff of Symbicort Turbuhaler as a reliever when needed for shortness of breath, without needing to use it regularly. This is called AIR therapy (anti-inflammatory reliever therapy).
Moderate to severe asthma
If you have moderate to severe asthma, you can use your Symbicort Turbuhaler as both a preventer and and also as a reliever. This is called SMART (which stands for single maintenance and reliever therapy). This means that you can use your Symbicort Turbuhaler regularly each day for symptom prevention, and also when needed for symptom relief.
Preventer: Use Symbicort every day, once or twice daily.
Reliever: One inhalation when needed for shortness of breath. You can repeat as required, up to a maximum of 12 inhalations in one day. If you do need to take more and more doses each day, see your doctor to assess your therapy. Read more about the SMART action plan.
Tips for when using the Symbicort Turbuhaler
- Always use your inhaler 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.
- Symbicort Turbuhalers are available in different strengths. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which strength you are taking. If your inhaler looks different to what you were expecting, ask your pharmacist about this.
- Rinse your mouth after each use. Symbicort can cause a sore throat and hoarse voice. Rinse your mouth after each use to prevent this.
How to use your Symbicort Turbuhaler
To get the most benefit, it is important to use the correct technique when using your Symbicort. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse to explain how to use your Turbuhaler. 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, NZ, 2018)
Using your Turbuhaler
|How to use your Symbicort 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 1 dose of medicine.|
|Breathe out: Breathe out, away from the Turbuhaler. Do not blow directly into the Turbuhaler.|
|Inhale your dose: Place the mouthpiece 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's time to get a new Turbuhaler.
Precautions – before using Symbicort
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Are you lactose intolerant?
- Have you ever had pulmonary tuberculosis (TB)?
- Do you have heart disease?
- Do you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid)?
- Do you have high blood pressure (hypertension)?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you have an irregular heartbeat or rhythm, including a very fast pulse?
- Do you play competitive or professional sport?
If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start using Symbicort. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
Like all medicines Symbicort can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.
|Side effects||What should I do?|
- Budesonide + formoterol NZ Formulary