How does the Pulmicort Turbohaler work?
Inhaled budesonide starts working slowly, taking around 10 days to reach its full effect, which is why it is so important you use it every day – even when your breathing feels fine. It is not suitable to relieve the immediate symptoms of asthma –you should also have been prescribed a "reliever" inhaler for this.
Pulmicort (budesonide) is prescribed for people whose asthma has not been controlled well enough on just a reliever inhaler.
Your doctor or asthma nurse should have already given you advice about what to do in case of an asthma attack. If you are unsure, contact them to discuss any issues.
How to use the Pulmicort Turbohaler
Pulmicort Turbohalers are available in three different strengths: inhalers containing 100 micrograms, 200 micrograms, or 400 micrograms of budesonide per inhalation.
The "turbohaler" device is very easy to use and is slightly different to a normal inhaler device – the leaflet and the inhaler technique video give full details.
The normal dosage range for adults, for the relief of asthma symptoms, is 100 micrograms to 800 micrograms depending on the severity of the symptoms, and should be inhaled twice a day. However, sometimes patients can be moved on to a once-daily dosage, to be taken in the evening. Pulmicort is not normally prescribed for children under five years old.
If your asthma symptoms are bad now, or get worse in the future, talk to your doctor or asthma nurse. If your asthma is not very well controlled, there is likely to be a better way of managing it. It's important to check that you are using your inhaler in the right way. Your doctor, asthma nurse, or pharmacist should have shown you how to do this before. However, it is always a good idea to make sure you are doing it right, as the inhaler could be less effective if you're not. There is a useful guide at the Asthma UK website showing the best technique for the most common types of inhalers.
Rinse out your mouth with water or brush your teeth after using the inhaler each time, because some of the powdered medicine from the inhaler can get left behind in the mouth, which can leave you more at risk from a mouth infection.
If you are using a high dose of this or any other steroid "preventer" inhaler, it's important that you do not stop using it suddenly without talking to your doctor first as this could cause side effects and make you feel unwell.
Is the Pulmicort Turbohaler suitable for me?
There are some situations in which the Pulmicort Turbohaler, like all medicines, should be used with caution or may not be recommended. This may apply, for example, in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children and in people who notice that their asthma is getting worse. The Turbohaler may not be recommended for people who have (or have had) pulmonary tuberculosis or any fungal or viral infections of the airways, reduced liver function or cirrhosis, and anyone with an allergy to budesonide or any of the inactive ingredients.
Tell the online doctor if you are taking any other medicines, either from your doctor or purchased from a pharmacy. Medicines that the doctor should particularly be made aware of include ketoconazole, itraconazole, and other steroids.
It's very important to give a full picture of your asthma and your general health in the consultation, to make sure the doctor has all the information required to assess your individual situation and how appropriate any potential treatments are for you.
What are the side effects of the Pulmicort Turbohaler?
Like all medicines, Pulmicort can cause side effects, but they won’t affect everyone. Side effects that have been reported include oral thrush (which can be minimised by rinsing out the mouth after each inhalation), hoarseness of the voice, and a cough or throat irritation. Less commonly reported side effects include skin bruising or rashes, anxiety or depression or behavioural changes (mostly in children), and an unexpected increase in wheezing after using the inhaler – if this happens, a fast-acting "reliever" inhaler should be used straight away and you should seek medical advice.
Because budesonide is a steroid, it can cause steroid-like side effects in the body if used at high doses over long periods of time. These are described in more detail in the product information leaflet.
For a full list of potential side effects and other important information, please read the patient leaflet provided in the pack before starting any course of treatment. It is very important to read the leaflet in full before starting to use a Pulmicort Turbohaler. The leaflets can also be viewed online here.