Medically reviewed on September 3, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Pulmicort Flexhaler
- Pulmicort Respules
- Pulmicort Turbuhaler
- Pulmicort Nebuamp
- Rhinocort Turbuhaler
Available Dosage Forms:
- Aerosol Liquid
- Aerosol Powder
Therapeutic Class: Anti-Inflammatory
Pharmacologic Class: Adrenal Glucocorticoid
Uses For budesonide
Budesonide is used to help prevent the symptoms of asthma. When used regularly every day, inhaled budesonide decreases the number and severity of asthma attacks. However, it will not relieve an asthma attack that has already started.
Budesonide is a corticosteroid or steroid (cortisone-like medicine). It works by preventing inflammation (swelling) in the lungs, which makes the asthma attack less severe. Inhaled budesonide may be used with other asthma medicines such as bronchodilators, which are also used to open up narrowed breathing passages in the lungs.
Budesonide is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using budesonide
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For budesonide, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to budesonide or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of Pulmicort Respules® in children 12 months to 8 years of age. However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 12 months of age.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of Pulmicort Flexhaler™ in children 6 years of age and older. However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 6 years of age.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of inhaled budesonide in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related liver, kidney, or heart problems, which may require an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving inhaled budesonide.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking budesonide, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using budesonide with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using budesonide with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Amtolmetin Guacil
- Choline Salicylate
- Flufenamic Acid
- Mefenamic Acid
- Niflumic Acid
- Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
- Salicylic Acid
- Sodium Salicylate
- Tiaprofenic Acid
- Tolfenamic Acid
Using budesonide with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of budesonide. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Asthma attack, acute—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
- Bone problems (e.g., osteoporosis) or
- Cataracts or
- Glaucoma—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Chickenpox, including recent exposure or
- Measles or
- Herpes simplex virus infection of the eye or
- Infections (virus, bacteria, or fungus) or
- Tuberculosis, active or history of—Budesonide can reduce the body's ability to fight off these infections.
- Milk protein allergy, severe—Use with caution. The Pulmicort Flexhaler™ contains lactose (milk sugar with milk protein), which may cause side effects for patients with this condition.
Proper Use of budesonide
Inhaled budesonide is used to prevent asthma attacks. It is not used to stop an attack that has already started. For relief of an asthma attack that has already started, you or your child should use another medicine. If you do not have another medicine to use for an acute asthma attack or if you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.
Use budesonide only as directed. Do not use more of it and do not use it more often than your doctor ordered. Also, do not stop taking budesonide without telling your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
In order for budesonide to help prevent asthma attacks, it must be used every day in regularly spaced doses, as ordered by your doctor. Budesonide usually begins to work in about 24 to 48 hours, but up to 2 to 6 weeks may pass before you feel the full effects.
Do not change your dose or stop using budesonide without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. Some conditions may become worse when the medicine is stopped suddenly, which can be dangerous.
When using the Pulmicort Flexhaler™:
- Budesonide comes as a powder that you breathe into the lungs with a special inhaler that is placed in the mouth. It is used by adults, teenagers, and children who are 6 years of age and older.
- The medicine comes with patient instructions. Read the instructions carefully before using budesonide. If you or your child do not understand the instructions or are not sure how to use the inhaler, check with your doctor.
- When you use the inhaler for the first time, it may not deliver the right amount of medicine with the first puff. Before using budesonide, test or prime it.
- Hold the inhaler so that the white cover points up, then twist the cover and lift it off. Hold the inhaler upright (mouthpiece up) using the brown grip, then twist the middle of the inhaler fully in one direction as far as it will go, and then back again in the other direction. You will hear a click. Repeat this process one more time.
- You do not have to prime it again after this, even if you have not used it for a long time.
- After the inhaler is primed, twist the cover and lift it off.
- To load a dose, hold the inhaler in the upright position, then twist the grip fully in one direction as far as it will go, and then fully back again in the other direction. You will hear a click.
- Turn your head away from the inhaler and breathe out. Do not shake the inhaler.
- Place the mouthpiece between your lips and breathe in deeply and forcefully. You may not taste or feel the medicine.
- Do not chew or bite on the mouthpiece.
- Remove the inhaler from your mouth and breathe out. Do not blow or breathe into the inhaler.
- Repeat these steps if more than one dose is needed.
- When you are finished, place the cover back on the inhaler and twist shut. Rinse your mouth with water and spit out the water. Do not swallow the water. This helps prevent hoarseness, throat irritation, and infections in the mouth.
- Do not use the inhaler if it has been damaged or if the mouthpiece has become detached.
- Do not use a spacer with the Pulmicort Flexhaler™.
- Keep the inhaler clean and dry at all times. Follow the patient directions for cleaning and storing the inhaler.
- The inhaler has a dose indicator that keeps track of how many times you can use the inhaler before you need to open a new one. Check the dose indicator just below the mouthpiece. The dose indicator usually starts with either the number 60 or 120 when full.
- Discard the whole device when all doses have been used. The inhaler is empty when the number zero appears in the middle of the dose indicator window. You will be given a new inhaler each time you refill your prescription.
When using the Pulmicort Respules® liquid:
- Budesonide comes as a liquid that you breathe into the lungs with a special breathing machine called a jet nebulizer. The nebulizer has a face mask or mouthpiece. It is used by children who are 12 months to 8 years of age.
- Your doctor will tell you which type of nebulizer to use with budesonide and will show you how to use the nebulizer. The medicine and nebulizer come with patient instructions. Read the instructions carefully before using the medicine or the machine. If you or your child do not understand the instructions or are not sure how to use the nebulizer, check with your doctor.
- Use budesonide at the same time each day, unless your child's doctor tells you otherwise.
- Do not mix this liquid with other medicines.
- Open the sealed aluminum foil envelope containing the medicine. Remove one container from the strip of five plastic containers with sealed caps. Write the current date on the back of the envelope when you open the foil pouch.
- Each container has one dose of medicine.
- Place the unused containers back in the foil pouch. This will protect the medicine from light.
- Shake the container in a circular motion before using it.
- Hold the container upright and open it by twisting off the cap.
- Slowly squeeze out all of the contents of the container into the nebulizer cup. Throw the empty container away.
- If your child is using a face mask, make sure that the mask fits tightly on the face to avoid getting the medicine in the eyes.
- Turn on the compressor to begin nebulizing the medication. The nebulizer turns the medicine into a fine mist that the child breathes into the lungs using the mouthpiece or mask.
- After the dose is completed, wash your child's face to prevent skin irritation.
- Rinsing your child's mouth with water after each dose may help prevent hoarseness, throat irritation, and infections in the mouth. Do not allow your child to swallow the water after rinsing.
The dose of budesonide will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of budesonide. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For preventing an asthma attack:
- For inhalation dosage form (powder inhaler):
- Adults and children 6 years of age and older—At first, one or two puffs two times a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed.
- Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For inhalation dosage form (suspension in a nebulizer):
- Children 12 months to 8 years of age—0.5 to 1 milligram (mg) in a nebulizer once a day, or divided and given twice a day. Each container of liquid has one dose and a new container is used for each dose.
- Infants younger than 12 months of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For inhalation dosage form (powder inhaler):
If you miss a dose of budesonide, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Store the Pulmicort Flexhaler™ in a dry place at room temperature with the cover tightly in place.
Store the unused Pulmicort Respules® in an upright position at room temperature. Keep the medicine containers in the foil pouch until you are ready to use them. Do not freeze the containers. Once you have opened a foil pouch, the containers will only be good for 2 weeks. Throw away any unused containers if it has been longer than 2 weeks since you opened the pouch.
Precautions While Using budesonide
It is very important that your doctor check you or your child's progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to check for any unwanted effects caused by budesonide.
You or your child should not use budesonide if your asthma attack has already started. Your doctor will prescribe another medicine (e.g., a short-acting inhaler) for you to use in case of an acute asthma attack. Call your doctor if you have any questions about this.
If your or your child's symptoms do not improve within one to two weeks, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
Budesonide may weaken your immune system. Avoid being around people who are sick or who have infections such as chickenpox or measles. Tell your doctor right away if you think you or your child have been exposed to chickenpox or measles.
If you or your child develop a skin rash, hives, or any type of allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to budesonide, stop using the medicine and check with your doctor as soon as possible.
Budesonide may also increase your risk of having infections or sores in your mouth or throat. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have any signs of a throat infection.
Budesonide may decrease bone mineral density when used for a long time. A low bone mineral density can cause weak bones or osteoporosis. If you have any questions about this, talk to your doctor.
Budesonide may cause children to grow more slowly than normal. This would cause a child to not gain weight or get taller. Talk with your child's doctor if you think this is a problem or if you have any concerns.
Budesonide may increase your risk of having an adrenal gland that is less active than normal. The adrenal gland makes steroids for your body. This is more likely for people who use steroids for a long time or use high doses. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have more than one of the following symptoms: darkening of the skin, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, loss of appetite, depression, nausea, skin rash, unusual tiredness or weakness, or vomiting. Rarely, menstrual cycle changes, acne, pimples, or weight gain (fat deposits) around the face, neck, and trunk may occur while using budesonide.
Check with your doctor immediately if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you or your child to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
Make sure any doctor or dentist knows that you or your child are using budesonide. You might need to stop using budesonide several days before having surgery.
Your doctor may want you or your child to carry a medical identification card that says budesonide is being used. You or your child may need additional medicine during an emergency, a severe asthma attack, an illness, or unusual stress.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Budesonide Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Body aches or pain
- dryness or soreness of the throat
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- joint pain
- loss of appetite
- muscle aches and pains
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- shortness of breath or troubled breathing
- sore throat
- stuffy or runny nose
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- tightness of the chest or wheezing
- trouble with sleeping
- trouble with swallowing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- voice changes
- darkening of the skin
- excessive muscle tone
- large, flat, blue, or purplish patches in the skin
- lower back or side pain
- muscle stiffness
- muscle tension or tightness
- painful or difficult urination
- redness or swelling in the ear
- skin rash
- sore mouth or tongue
- white patches in the mouth or on the tongue
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Back pain
- Acid or sour stomach
- change in taste or bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
- difficulty with breathing
- difficulty with moving
- dry mouth
- ear congestion
- headache, severe and throbbing
- muscle cramping
- neck pain
- stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
- swollen joints
- unable to sleep
- unexplained runny nose or sneezing
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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