Skip to Content

Is Symbicort a steroid inhaler?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on July 16, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Symbicort (generic name: budesonide and formoterol) contains an inhaled corticosteroid (“steroid”) known as budesonide to reduce inflammation in the lungs, but also contains a medicine known as formoterol. Formoterol is a long-acting inhaled bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing.

Symbicort is not approved by the FDA as a “rescue inhaler”. Do not use Symbicort for treating sudden asthma symptoms or a COPD bronchospasm attack. A fast-acting inhaler, such as the short-acting beta-2 agonist albuterol, is typically used for attacks that come on quickly.

You should also not use this medication if you doctor has told you only need an inhaled corticosteroid ("steroid") to control your asthma symptoms, as this medication contain two medicines in one inhaler.

Why was I prescribed Symbicort?

  • Symbicort is a maintenance (long-term) medication approved to control and prevent the symptoms of asthma in patients at least 6 years old.
  • Symbicort is also used to help control the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and reduce flare-ups that may lead to sudden breathing problems.

If you have asthma, your doctor may prescribe Symbicort if your asthma is not well-controlled on other long-term asthma medicines such as an inhaled corticosteroid alone. If your symptoms improve, your doctor may decide to stop your use of Symbicort and return to the use of a corticosteroid only.

What is the Symbicort dose?

Only use Symbicort the way your doctor orders. In either asthma or COPD, Symbicort is usually taken as two puffs two times each day, morning and evening, about 12 hours apart. After each inhalation, rinse your mouth with water without swallowing. Do not exceed your prescribed dose.

Symbicort comes in two different strengths:

  • budesonide 80 mcg / formoterol 4.5 mcg
  • budesonide 160 mcg / formoterol 4.5 mcg.

Your doctor will prescribe the correct strength that you need.

Bottom Line

  • Symbicort is a combination inhaler that contains two medicines: a corticosteroid (“steroid”) known as budesonide that reduces lung inflammation, and a long-acting inhaled bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve your breathing. Symbicort is used as a long-term maintenance medicine for either asthma or COPD.
  • It is not approved for used as a fast-acting inhaler for sudden breathing problems or as an inhaler for people who only need a corticosteroid to control their symptoms.
  • Use Symbicort exactly as your doctor prescribes it. The typical dose is two puffs two times each day, morning and evening, about 12 hours apart.

This is not all the information you need to know about Symbicort for safe and effective use. Review the full product information here, and speak to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.

References

Related Medical Questions

Drug Information

Related Support Groups