Pulmicort Medication for Asthma


Pulmicort is an inhaled steroid used to control asthma symptoms. Pulmicort, along with other inhaled steroids like Flovent, is considered first-line treatment when you need more than occasional use of a rescue inhaler for your asthma. Pulmicort can be prescribed by itself or combined with a long-acting beta-agonist to prevent asthma symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough

How Does Pulmicort Work?

Pulmicort reduces inflammation in the lungs and decreases airway hyperresponsiveness. By acting directly in the lungs, your airways are also less likely to respond to an asthma trigger. In order for Pulmicort to work correctly, you need to make sure you are using proper technique.

Additionally, Pulmicort's benefits result from its action on a number of different cell types involved in the pathophysiology of asthma:

  • Basophils
  • Eosinophils
  • Lymphocytes
  • Macrophages
  • Mast Cells
  • Neutrophils

The decreased inflammation, mucus production, and hyperresponsiveness lead to a decrease in your asthma symptoms. Unlike your rescue inhaler, Pulmicort controls chronic asthma symptoms and should be taken daily in order to be effective. If you fail to take this medication daily, you will not see the maximum benefit.

How Is Pulmicort Prescribed?

Pulmicort is prescribed in 2 different forms. Pulmicort Respules is an inhalation suspension delivered via a special nebulizer and is available in several different strengths. Pulmicort is also available via a dry inhaled powder that is similar to a metered-dose inhaler. Generally, you will take Pulmicort daily no matter how well your asthma symptoms are controlled. If your asthma control is excellent, talk with your doctor about considering a decrease in your medication.

The active component in Pulmicort, budesonide, is also in Symbicort, combination asthma inhaler, and in Rhinocort, a nasal spray for allergies.

Possible Risks and Side Effects of Pulmicort

While Pulmicort and other inhaled steroids are normally well tolerated, Pulmicort, like any medication, carries some risk of side effects. The side effects of Pulmicort are similar to the side effects of other inhaled steroids and will generally decrease with time. If any of the side effects continue to be bothersome be sure to discuss with your doctor. If you experience any of the following, let your doctor know right away:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness

What You Need to Know About Pulmicort

The single most important factor allowing Pulmicort to improve your asthma symptoms is using it correctly. More than 30% of asthmatics do not take their inhaled steroids as directed by their physicians. Using Pulmicort only when you experience asthma symptoms is not correct and not a good way to get control of your asthma.

Using Pulmicort with a spacer not only decreases the side effects you may experience but also increases the amount of medication getting into your lungs. If you do not want to use a spacer, it is very important to learn how to use an MDI appropriately.

Know When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor about your asthma if:

  • Your asthma worsens after taking Pulmicort
  • Your rescue inhaler no longer relieves your asthma symptoms
  • You use your rescue inhaler more than twice per week
  • Your peak flow is getting worse
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Article Sources

  • Astrzeneca. Pulmicort Prescribing Information 
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.  Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
  • Pub Med Health. Budesonide Oral Inhalation