Pulmicort uses include preventing asthma attacks in children and adults. The medication is called a "controller medication," which means that it is used to prevent asthma attacks rather than treating them once they occur. Because of this, it is important for people with asthma to also have a "rescue medication" (such as an albuterol inhaler) available for emergencies. Pulmicort can also be prescribed off-label to help treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What Is Pulmicort Used For?Pulmicort® (budesonide inhalation) is a prescription medication used to prevent asthma attacks. It is part of a class of asthma medications known as inhaled corticosteroids, or steroids for short.
Pulmicort comes in two forms -- the Pulmicort Flexhaler® (a special kind of inhaler) and Pulmicort Respules® that are inhaled using a nebulizer (a device that changes liquid medications into fine droplets that are inhaled into the lungs). The Pulmicort Flexhaler has replaced the Pulmicort Turbuhaler®, which is no longer manufactured.
Pulmicort for Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, which are the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed (swollen). This inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating (see Asthma Triggers). When the airways react, they narrow and reduce the airflow to your lungs. This is called a bronchospasm, and it causes asthma symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing.
While there is no asthma cure, asthma can be controlled. There are many different asthma treatments, including fast-acting "rescue medications" for treating an asthma attack and longer-acting "controller medications" used to prevent asthma attacks. Pulmicort is a controller medication, which is used to help prevent asthma attacks (but not to treat an attack). Everyone who takes Pulmicort should also have a rescue medication (such as an albuterol inhaler) available for emergencies.
Pulmicort is part of a class of drugs called inhaled corticosteroids, or steroids for short. Inflammation is an important component of asthma, and steroids help to decrease inflammation. Because Pulmicort is inhaled directly into the lungs, the rest of the body is exposed to lower steroid levels, compared to steroids taken by mouth. This helps reduce or eliminate many of the side effects associated with long-term steroid use.
(Click Asthma Treatment to learn more about treating asthma.)