Comparing Symbicort vs Albuterol for Asthma Control

Category: Prescription Related Questions


Posted on March 15, 2024

Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.

Symbicort vs Albuterol

Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in the US, affecting around 1 in 12 people. Asthma and related conditions like COPD feature inflammation and narrowing of the airways, which can affect breathing.

Some people with mild asthma do not experience symptoms all the time. Instead, they may suffer from bronchospasms, or a sudden narrowing of the airways. These attacks may occur after exercise or other activities.

If you experience breathing difficulties, you may wonder about the benefits of Symbicort vs. albuterol. These medications can help people with asthma and COPD, but they are not interchangeable.

Discover the similarities and differences between Symbicort and albuterol and which one may be right for you in this guide.

What Is Symbicort?

Symbicort medication is a brand-name inhaler doctors prescribe to prevent and control the symptoms of certain breathing conditions. It is recommended for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

Some doctors recommend Symbicort for asthma. However, it is typically only prescribed for severe or treatment-resistant symptoms.

The Symbicort inhaler is for daily use and not intended to treat asthma attacks. If bronchospasms are your primary symptom, you may benefit more from using albuterol.

Symbicort Side Effects

Symbicort is a relatively safe medication that only causes severe side effects in rare cases. More often, people experience the following side effects when using this medication:

  • Throat pain
  • Throat irritation
  • White patches in the mouth or throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Brain pain
  • Headaches
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Cold symptoms

Children who use Symbicort may be at risk for growth problems. If your child experiences delayed growth while using this medication, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

What Is Albuterol?

Albuterol medication is a generic prescription rescue inhaler. Doctors may prescribe a product containing albuterol if you experience bronchospasm attacks due to asthma, COPD, or exercise.

Doctors do not recommend albuterol for daily use. If you experience frequent or severe symptoms, your doctor will recommend a long-term asthma product to prevent and control your breathing difficulties.

Albuterol Side Effects

Albuterol rarely causes severe side effects. The most common side effects to expect when using your albuterol rescue inhaler include but are not limited to the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Painful urination
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Body aches
  • Cold symptoms

Using certain substances with albuterol may increase the risk or severity of these symptoms. For example, caffeine can worsen albuterol side effects like increased heart rate, shakiness, and nervousness.

Symbicort vs. Albuterol for Breathing Problems

Symbicort and albuterol are both inhalers. They share other similarities, too. For example, both products contain active ingredients that act as bronchodilators and benefit certain symptoms of asthma and COPD.

But you cannot use Symbicort in place of albuterol or vice versa. Learn why below.

Albuterol Is Recommended for Asthma Attacks

Albuterol is approved for emergency use in people with asthma and COPD. Your doctor may also recommend keeping an albuterol rescue inhaler on hand if you experience exercise-induced bronchospasms.

Symbicort Is Not Recommended for Asthma Attacks

Symbicort is approved for long-term treatment of COPD, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Your doctor may also prescribe it for severe asthma symptoms, but it is not designed to treat bronchospasm attacks.

Albuterol Is a Rescue Inhaler

Albuterol is a rescue inhaler, meaning it is only designed for emergencies. Your doctor may recommend using albuterol inhalers after exercise or any other time you need immediate relief from asthma or COPD symptoms.

Experts do not recommend using albuterol every day. If you experience asthma or COPD symptoms daily, your doctor will recommend a daily prescription inhaler.

Symbicort Is a Daily Inhaler

Symbicort is a prescription inhaler doctors recommend using every day. You should use it even if you are not experiencing COPD or severe asthma flare-ups, as this product can prevent and control your symptoms.

Some experts suggest that you can use Symbicort as a rescue inhaler, too. However, this statement has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you should not use it for this purpose.

Albuterol Is a Generic

Albuterol is the name of an active ingredient, not a brand that sells inhalers. It is sold as a generic, but you can also buy brand-name asthma products that contain albuterol.

Proventil, Ventolin HFA, ProAir, and Vospire are a few of the many brands that sell albuterol rescue inhalers.

Symbicort Contains Budesonide/Formoterol

Symbicort is a brand-name inhaler that contains the active ingredients budesonide and formoterol. It is also available under the brand names Advair Diskus and Breo Ellipta.

You can also purchase generic budesonide/formoterol inhalers, which are more affordable than their brand-name counterparts.

Albuterol Is a Bronchodilator

Albuterol falls under the drug class known as bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are designed to relax airway muscles. The ultimate goal is to open airways and improve airflow to the lungs.

People with asthma and COPD have high levels of inflammation, which can result in a narrowing of the airways.

Symbicort Is a Corticosteroid/Broncodilator

Symbicort has two active ingredients: budesonide and formoterol. Budesonide is a corticosteroid. Formoterol is a bronchodilator, but it differs from albuterol in that it is longer acting.

Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation. Meanwhile, bronchodilators expand the airways to improve airflow to the lungs.

Albuterol Works for People Aged 4+

If your child is 4 or 5 years old, they can use products containing albuterol. As long as you follow your doctor's prescription guidelines, you can safely administer this medication to children over the age of 4.

Symbicort Works for People Aged 6+

Symbicort is not approved for children under the age of 6. If your child has COPD, talk to your doctor about preventive medications that may be approved for younger children.

Get Discounted Asthma Control Medications

Comparing Symbicort vs. albuterol can help you find the best asthma medicine for your symptoms. Talk to a doctor to learn how to get a prescription for these life-saving medicines.

Are you searching for ways to save on your asthma prescription? PricePro Pharmacy connects you with high-quality, discounted prescriptions from Canada and other reputable pharmacies worldwide.

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