Symbicort Side Effects

Symbicort Symptoms, causes, treatment

You’ve been smoking for years. Now suddenly you feel tightness on your chest. You look at your cigarette and ask yourself, is it because of my smoking? Chances are, it probably is. You may have cardiovascular diseases or COPD, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

According to Mayo Clinic, COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes obstructive airflow from the lungs. Under the umbrella medical term, COPD is chronic bronchitis and emphysema. One, chronic bronchitis, refers to inflamed bronchial tubes which leads to difficulty in breathing. And two, a person with emphysema has air sacs in the lungs that are over-inflated, leading to ineffective breathing. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema are chronic. COPD may be long-term, yes. The good news is that COPD is treatable.


Vaccinations are very important when you have diseases like COPD and asthma. Adults with these two illnesses are more likely to suffer complications from the flu. COPD is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Just in 2016, around 8.9 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. For emphysema, 3.5 million Americans are diagnosed in the same year. Majority of Americans diagnosed are 45 years old and above. 

Each day, ten Americans die from asthma.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC reports that 1 in 13 people have asthma.  About 25 million Americans have asthma. This disease is also more common in adult women than in adult men.  And more children have asthma than adults. In 2015, around 48 percent of children less than 18 years of age have reported an asthma attack the previous year. 

The risk factors of COPD are exposure to tobacco smoke, occupational exposure to dust and chemicals, and exposure to fumes from burning sensation fuel. Also, age and genetics also play a role in increasing the likelihood of having COPD.

Persons who have a blood relative who has asthma are also prone to the development of asthma. The Mayo Clinic further enumerates other risk factors for asthma which include having another allergic reaction, being overweight, being a smoker, exposure to chemicals used in work such as farming, manufacturing, or hairdressing, and exposure to second-hand smoke.

A combination of budesonide and formoterol, Symbicort is used to control asthma and COPD. According to the Mayo Clinic, asthma is an illness in which airways become inflamed. As a result, extra mucus is produced and airways narrow. 

There are two active ingredients in Symbicort. These are Budesonide and Formoterol. On the one hand, Budesonide is a corticosteroid, which reduces swelling in the airways. Formoterol, on the other hand, causes airways to dilate, leading to a more open airflow.

Side effects 

Symbicort is a combination of a bronchodilator and corticosteroid. As such, these two drugs may work together to counter your illness. However, take note that both of these drugs making up Symbicort have side effects as well.

A bronchodilator is a beta-2 agonist. It is responsible for relaxation of smooth muscle, dilation of bronchial passages, vasodilation in muscles and liver, relaxation of uterine muscle, and release of insulin. Since most gastrointestinal muscles are made of smooth muscle, side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach, and diarrhea. Other side effects of bronchodilator include headache, a nervous feeling, trouble sleeping, increased heart rate or palpitations, and muscle cramps. It may even lead to paradoxical bronchospasm, an unexpected constriction of smooth muscle walls. 

The other drug is a corticosteroid. Such drug lowers inflammation in the body. Formoterol, a corticosteroid, may cause thrush in the mouth as well. This drug may also cause high blood sugar, nervousness, and headache. Sugar is increased because corticosteroid promotes glucose production in the liver. Also, when you take in corticosteroid din the long-term, you may have reduced sensitivity to insulin. 

Other side effects include upper respiratory tract infection, nasal congestion, sinusitis, flu, and back pain.

Administration of Symbicort

If you need to take Symbicort, then use it exactly as prescribed by your physician. To use Symbicort effectively, you need two puffs of Symbicort twice a day, every day.

Remember the following in taking Symbicort.

  • The maximum puffs per day are 4 only. 
  • The maximum usage per day is two only.
  • Use the counter to monitor your doses.

Your Symbicort should last 30 days if you are taking four puffs per day.

Priming your inhaler

You need to prime Symbicort for first use, no usage for more than seven days, and if you drop it. 

First, after opening the pouch, write the date on the box. To prime it, there are six steps. First, hold your inhaler in the upright position. Second, shake it for 5 seconds. After removing the mouthpiece cover, the third step is to squeeze it gently at both sides then pull it out. Fourth, to release a test spray, press down firmly and fully on top of the counter. Take note to let the inhaler face away from you. Fifth, shake it again for a good 5 seconds. And lastly, release a second test spray.

Drug interaction 

Symbicort interacts with the following drugs. These drugs may interact with Symbicort, which may increase or decrease the efficacy of the drug or magnify its side effects.

These drugs are not recommended for use with Symbicort.

  • Antipsychotics
    • Amisulpride
    • Mesoridazine
    • Pimozide
    • Thioridazine
    • Ziprasidone
  • Calcium channel blocker
    • Bepridil
  • Gastroprokinetic agent
    • Cisapride
  • Synthetic analogue
    • Desmopressin
  • Anti-arrhythmic drug
    • Dronedarone
  • Anti-malarial agent
    • Piperaquine
  • Protease inhibitor
    • Saquinavir
  • Antibiotic Floroquinolone
    • Sparfloxacin
  • Antihistamine
    • Terfenadine
  • Inhalers
    • Salmeterol
    • Formoterol
    • Arformoterol

What are warnings and precautions in taking Symbicort?

Take all medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Do not change the dosage of your drug without talking to your doctor. More importantly, do not discontinue use without advice from the doctor.

Take note that taking Symbicort may increase the chance of an asthma attack. This drug will not stop an asthma attack once it occurs.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking LABA medicines. Some examples of LABA medicines or Long-acting beta-agonists are salmeterol or formoterol. Using LABA medicines with Symbicort may cause chest pain, fast and irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, headache or nervousness. 

Infections are more common while taking Symbicort. As much as you can prevent it, do not visit hospitals. Talk to your doctor when you are exposed to a person with an infection like chickenpox or other infections. Rinse your mouth with water after taking this inhaler to prevent chances of thrush infection. Signs of this infection include white patches in the mouth. Advise your doctor if you have such patches.

Using Symbicort may also lead to paradoxical bronchospasm. For this reason, call an ambulance right away if your child experiences difficulty in breathing. Also call an ambulance in case of hives, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat or any signs of an allergic reaction.

If your child’s symptoms do not improve after using this medicine for 1 week, talk to your doctor. Also, if you are the patient and feel that the medication is not working or your breathing problems worsen, talk to your doctor. You may need different treatment.

You should tell your doctor if you have heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, thyroid problems, diabetes, liver problems, immune system problem, osteoporosis, eye problems such as increased pressure in the eye, glaucoma, or cataracts, and allergies to any medicines. Inform your physician as well if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Symbicort drug may harm an unborn baby. Also, if you are breastfeeding, inform your doctor right away too since one of the active ingredients in Symbicort, which is Budesonide passes into breast milk.

Contraindications of Symbicort

Symbicort is contraindicated in these conditions:

  • Primary treatment of status asthmaticus
  • An acute episode of COPD
  • Hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients of Symbicort

Overdose in Symbicort

Call an ambulance immediately in case of an overdose with Symbicort.  While waiting for the ambulance, you may also call poison control. The symptoms of overdose include severe headache, confusion, and chest pain.  Overdose may manifest itself as shortness of breath and a pounding in your neck or ears too. Other symptoms include palpitations, nervousness, muscle spasms, and difficulty in breathing.  For these symptoms, do not hesitate to call for help immediately.

Medication Guide

There are two dosages of Symbicort:

  • SYMBICORT 80/4.5 (budesonide 80 mcg and formoterol fumarate dihydrate 4.5 mcg) Inhalation Aerosol
  • SYMBICORT 160/4.5 (budesonide 160 mcg and formoterol fumarate dihydrate 4.5 mcg) Inhalation Aerosol

COPD and asthma are dangerous conditions.  These two are on the list of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States.  Symbicort, a drug manufactured by AstraZeneca, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA.  This drug is for the maintenance treatment of COPD and asthma. The drug manufacturer further said that with the approval of such drug, patients now have a new treatment option for the improvement of lung function.  With Symbicort, the debilitating symptoms of COPD or asthma are aimed to be less felt for a better quality of life.