Symbicort

Generic Name: Formoterol

  • What is this medication and its most common uses?

    Symbicort is a medicine used to treat asthma and airway narrowing associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis (long-term inflammation of the air passages within the lungs) and emphysema (lung disease that causes shortness of breath).

  • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

    How does this medication work?

    Symbicort contains two medicines: budesonide and formoterol. Budesonide works by decreasing inflammation in your lungs, while formoterol works by relaxing muscles in your airways.

    This medication is not used for emergency or immediate treatment of symptoms of asthma or COPD. Always have a short-acting rescue inhaler (such as albuterol) to treat sudden symptoms.

    What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

    What: Symbicort has been shown to improve your lung function, and may help reduce symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

    When: Symbicort may start controlling your asthma within 15 minutes of beginning treatment, although maximum benefit may not be reached for 2 weeks or longer after beginning treatment.

    How do I know it is working?

    You may feel an improvement in your breathing once you begin using Symbicort. Your healthcare provider may perform tests to check your lung function and ask you questions to assess how well your symptoms are controlled.

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

    The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

    If you have asthma and use Symbicort, you can have an increased risk of death from asthma problems. Tell your healthcare provider if your breathing problems worsen over time while you are using Symbicort. Get emergency medical care if your breathing problems worsen quickly or if you use your rescue inhaler medicine, but it does not relieve your symptoms.

    Asthma

    More common side effects may include: common cold, headache, upper respiratory infection, throat pain or irritation, sinus pain and congestion, flu-like symptoms, back pain, stomach discomfort, vomiting, fungal infection in your mouth and throat.

    COPD

    More common side effects may include: common cold, fungal infection in your mouth and throat, sinus pain and congestion, upper respiratory infection.

    Less common side effects of Symbicort may include:

    Pneumonia with symptoms such as increased mucus production, changes in mucus color, fever, chills, increased cough, or increased breathing problems.

    Weakened immune system and a higher chance of infections.

    Sudden breathing problems right after inhaling your medicine.

    Effects on your heart or nervous system with symptoms such as increased blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shaking, nervousness.

    Weakened bones, especially if you already have a higher risk for low bone density.

    Slowed growth in children.

    Eye problems, including glaucoma (high pressure in the eye) and cataracts.

    Decreased blood potassium levels, or increased blood sugar levels.

  • Who should not take this medication?

    Do not use Symbicort if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

    Do not use Symbicort to treat sudden, severe symptoms of COPD or asthma (such as an asthma attack).

  • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

    Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Symbicort. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have heart, thyroid, or liver problems; high blood pressure; seizures, diabetes; osteoporosis (thin, weak bones); cataracts or glaucoma; tuberculosis (a bacterial infection that affects the lungs) or any type of infection (including an eye infection); had chickenpox or measles or have recently been near anyone who has chickenpox or measles; or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

    Asthma

    Adults and children ≥12 years: The recommended dose is 2 inhalations twice a day (morning and evening, about 12 hours apart). Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate strength for you or your child and may adjust the strength, based on the severity of your or your child's condition.

    COPD

    Adults: The recommended dose is 2 inhalations twice a day. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate strength for you.

  • How should I take this medication?

    Use Symbicort exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not use it more often or stop using it without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    Shake Symbicort well for 5 seconds before using it.

    After each dose, rinse your mouth with water and spit it out. Do not swallow the water.

    Please review the instructions that came with your prescription on how to properly use your inhaler.

  • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

    Do not come in contact with anyone who has chickenpox or measles while you are using Symbicort.

    Do not puncture or throw the Symbicort canister into a fire or incinerator.

  • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

    If Symbicort is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your healthcare provider before combining Symbicort with the following: atazanavir, blood pressure/heart medications known as beta-blockers (such as propranolol), certain antidepressants (such as nortriptyline or phenelzine), clarithromycin, indinavir, itraconazole, ketoconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, telithromycin, or water pills (such as furosemide or hydrochlorothiazide).

  • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Symbicort during pregnancy are unknown. Symbicort can be found in your breast milk if you use it while breastfeeding. Do not breastfeed while you are using Symbicort. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

    If you miss a dose of Symbicort, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not inhale two doses at once.

  • How should I store this medication?

    Store at room temperature, with the mouthpiece down. Do not store near heat or an open flame.

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Shereen A. Gharbia, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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