Symbicort is a medicine that is used to treat severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
When treating asthma, Symbicort helps to prevent attacks of breathlessness, and when treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it works to reduce the number of flare ups.
The active ingredients in the medication help the muscles in the airways to your lungs relax, keeping them open and making it easier for air to get in and out. The medication also contains corticosteroids which reduce swelling and irritation, to help you breathe more easily.
Asthma and COPD can be debilitating illnesses that hinder daily life, while onset attacks of pain or breathlessness can be painful as well as worrying.
Taking Symbicort will help to manage these conditions, with effects of the active ingredients lasting for at least 12 hours.
Although this medication is a long-term preventative measure, it can also act as a “rescue” inhaler. This means that in the case of an attack of breathlessness, it can work as a quick fix. You can however, use it only for its long-term benefits and use a separate “rescue” inhaler, should you wish.
Symbicort is a prescription-only medication. Always follow the advice of your doctor and read the patient information leaflet provided with the medicine.
Your doctor or nurse should show you how to properly use your inhaler before starting on this medication. To administer a dose, start by holding the inhaler upright with the red grip at the bottom, and then unscrew and remove the cover. Turn the red grip as far as it will go one way, and then all the way back the other way (until it clicks), which will load the inhaler with a dose.
Breathe out normally and then place the mouthpiece between your teeth (without biting down) and close your lips around it. Breathe in through your mouth as hard as you can and hold that breath for 10 seconds. Then remove the inhaler from your mouth and breathe out gently, closing the cap after use.
You do not need to shake the inhaler before use. After use, it’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth out or brush your teeth, as leftover residue from the medication can leave you with a strange taste, and can also lead to thrush of the mouth or hoarseness.
Symbicort contains the active ingredients budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate, available in strengths of 100/6 micrograms, 200/6 micrograms and 400/12 micrograms respectively, per delivered dose.
The recommended dose differs depending on whether you’re using it to treat COPD or asthma, and whether it’s your only inhaler or you are using it alongside a “rescue” one. If you are using it to treat COPD then the recommended dose is 2 inhalations twice a day (suitably spaced apart). If you are using it only as a long-term asthma reliever then the recommended dose is 1 or 2 inhalations twice a day, although your doctor could increase this to 4 inhalations twice a day if they think you need it.
If you are using Symbicort as a dual inhaler (for both long-term relief and as a fast-acting solution to an attack of breathlessness), then the recommended dose is 2 inhalations a day, either taken together as one dose or as two separate administrations.
In the event of an asthma attack, take 1 inhalation and then wait a few minutes to see if this relieves the pain. If it does not, then take another, however you should never take more than 6 inhalations in one go. If you regularly need to use 8 or more inhalations in a day then you should consult your doctor, however you should never exceed 12 inhalations in a 24 hour period.
Each time you use your inhaler, the dose indicator will count down so that when the numbers turn red, you know to see your doctor to get a new one.
If you forget to use your Symbicort then you should skip the forgotten dose and move straight onto the next one. Don’t double up on your dose to make up for a missed one.
If you take more Symbicort than you should, then contact your doctor or pharmacist. Side effects of overdose include your heart beating faster than usual, feeling shaky, dizzy or weak, or developing a headache.
Before taking Symbicort, you should always first consult your doctor. You should not take Symbicort if any of the following apply to you:
Your prescription of Symbicort may also be affected by a number of other factors, so you should make your doctor aware if any of the following apply:
Like many medications with active ingredients, Symbicort can affect or be affected by other medicines. Particular medications that you may experience this with include the following:
If you are taking any of the above medications, then you should make your doctor aware so that they can advise whether or not Symbicort will be the best course of action for you.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding then you should consult your doctor before starting this medication, as it’s not usually recommended unless your doctor specifically thinks it’s necessary.
The most common side effects of using Symbicort include:
If you do experience one or more of these side effects and they persist or worsen, then inform your doctor right away. You should also contact your doctor if you notice any serious side effects such as worsening of breathing ability, fainting or skin reactions.
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