Taking Symbicort Safely
Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Symbicort include the following:
- Long-acting beta agonists (such as formoterol, one of the components of Symbicort) increase the risk of asthma-related deaths. Symbicort should not be started in people whose asthma is becoming significantly worse, or in emergency situations, as this may increase the risk of death. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if your asthma symptoms become worse during treatment with Symbicort.
- Individuals whose asthma can be adequately controlled without a long-acting beta agonist should not take this medication, due to the risks. If you must take this medication, once your asthma is under control your healthcare provider should see if you can gradually stop taking this medication (or any other long-acting beta agonist) without causing a worsening of your asthma.
- Symbicort is not a fast-acting asthma medication and cannot replace fast-acting rescue inhalers. Do not use Symbicort to treat an asthma attack. Everyone taking the medication should also have a rescue medication available at all times. Let your healthcare provider know if you need to use your rescue inhaler more frequently than usual, as this may be a sign of worsening asthma.
- Do not take the medication more frequently than prescribed, as this may increase your risk of side effects.
- Symbicort can have a stimulatory effect on the heart and blood pressure. Fast heart rate (tachycardia), high blood pressure (hypertension), and irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) may occur, although low blood pressure (hypotension) is also possible. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, make sure that your healthcare provider is aware of it. He or she may wish to use particular caution when recommending Symbicort in your case.
- People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be particularly susceptible to lung infections, such as pneumonia. It has been reported that inhaled steroids (like the one in Symbicort) might increase the risk of lung infections.
- People with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), diabetes, osteoporosis, or epilepsy should use caution when taking Symbicort, as the drug may make these conditions worse or increase the risk of side effects.
- Symbicort contains a steroid and may suppress the immune system. Although this is more likely to occur with oral steroids, it is still possible with inhaled steroids (such as Symbicort). You may be at higher risk for infections. Certain infections (such as chickenpox or the measles) may be more dangerous if you are taking Symbicort. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you are exposed to chickenpox or the measles (if you have not had these infections before and have not been vaccinated against them).
- Symbicort should not be used to switch from oral to inhaled steroids.
- Symbicort can interact with other medications (see Symbicort Drug Interactions).
- Symbicort is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using the drug while pregnant (see Symbicort and Pregnancy).
- Symbicort passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider before taking the drug (see Symbicort and Breastfeeding).