How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Budesonide belongs to the class of medications called corticosteroids. It is used to treat asthma. It helps to control the symptoms of asthma and prevent asthma attacks by reducing the swelling in the airways of the lungs. When used regularly, it will reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks. It will not relieve an asthma attack once it has already started. Regular daily use is important for its effectiveness.

This medication starts to work within 2 hours, but the full effects may not be seen for 1 to 2 weeks.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

100 µg
Each inhalation of dry powder delivers 100 µg of micronized budesonide. Nonmedicinal ingredients: No additives or carrier substances are included.

200 µg
Each inhalation of dry powder delivers 200 µg of micronized budesonide. Nonmedicinal ingredients: No additives or carrier substances are included.

400 µg
Each inhalation of dry powder delivers 400 µg of micronized budesonide. Nonmedicinal ingredients: No additives or carrier substances are included.

How should I use this medication?

Adults and children over 12 years of age: The usual starting dose ranges from 400 µg to 2,400 µg daily, divided into 2 to 4 equal doses. The usual maintenance dose is 200 µg to 400 µg twice daily. People who need only 400 µg per day can take it once daily in the morning or in the evening. Treatment with this medication should not be discontinued abruptly, but slowed down gradually. If asthma worsens while using this medication, your doctor may instruct you to increase the dose or use the medication more frequently. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Children 6 to 12 years of age: The usual starting dose ranges from 200 µg to 400 µg daily divided into 2 equal doses. The usual maintenance dose depends on the individual child.

To ensure the proper dosage and administration of the medication, ask for instruction from your doctor, pharmacist, or other health professional in the use of the medication dispenser.

The budesonide turbuhaler is breath activated. The amount of powder inhaled with each dose is very small. You may not be able to taste it or feel in going into your lungs. However, the medication will be getting into your lungs if you follow the instructions on how to use the inhaler. Listen for a "click" sound when you load a dose into the delivery unit. If you do not hear this sound, the device is not working properly and it is unlikely that you will receive the dose of medication. If you believe the turbuhaler is not working properly, contact your pharmacist for further instructions.

To reduce the risk of thrush infection in the mouth, rinse and gargle with water after inhaling the medication.

It is important to remember that this medication will not provide immediate relief for an asthma attack that has already started. This medication is intended for long-term relief. Inhalers that contain "reliever" medications with fast action (e.g., salbutamol, terbutaline) will still be needed while using this medication on a regular basis.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose and remember within 6 hours, use it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is more than 6 hours when you remember, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Clean the outside of the mouthpiece once a week with a dry tissue. Never use water or any other fluid.

Store this medication at room temperature with the cover in place, protect it from moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to budesonide or any ingredients of the medication
  • are having an asthma attack
  • have active or inactive lung tuberculosis
  • have an untreated fungal, bacterial, or viral lung infection
  • have status asthmaticus (severe, unresponsive asthma)

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • bad taste in mouth after taking the medication
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • dryness of the throat
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • nausea
  • thirst
  • throat irritation
  • tiredness

Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • depression
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • skin rash
  • slowed growth (children and adolescents)
  • symptoms of adrenal insufficiency (tiredness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle or joint pain)
  • white patches in the mouth or throat

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue)
  • wheezing or difficulty breathing right after inhaling the medication

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Asthma control: This medication is not for use as a "reliever" medication. If you start developing an asthma attack, be sure to use your "reliever" medication for rapid relief of your asthma symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately if you find you are using your "reliever" medications (e.g., salbutamol, terbutaline, formoterol) more often or if they are not working as well as they used to. This may mean your asthma is not controlled. Your doctor may want you to temporarily change the dose of this medication or may start you on an oral corticosteroid.

Infections: Infections such as chickenpox and measles can be more serious in people taking medications like budesonide. If you are exposed to someone with chickenpox or measles, contact your doctor.

Liver problems: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have liver problems, discuss with our doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. If you have cirrhosis, your doctor may monitor you more closely for side effects.

Oral hygiene: Adequate oral hygiene, such as rinsing your mouth with water after using this medication, helps reduce the chances of developing a yeast infection of the mouth or throat (thrush). If you develop symptoms of thrush, such as white patches in your mouth, contact your doctor.

Steroid medication use: If you have taken or are still taking an oral steroid medication (e.g., prednisone) during the last several months, consult your doctor before using this medication. In times of stress or during a severe asthma attack, your doctor may want you to start your steroid medication again.

Stopping medication: Do not stop this medication abruptly. When this medication is stopped, it should be stopped gradually, as directed by your doctor.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor.

Breast-feeding: Budesonide passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 6 years of age. Children  may experience slowing of growth while using this medication. Your doctor will monitor for this. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between budesonide and any of the following:

  • aldesleukin
  • amphotericin B
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • conivaptan
  • cyclosporine
  • deferasirox
  • leflunomide
  • natalizumab
  • pimecrolimus
  • tacrolimus
  • telaprevir
  • trastuzumab
  • vaccines (e.g., BCG, yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.