Budesonide vs Albuterol – What’s the Best Asthma Medicine?

Budesonide is a synthetic steroid and is part of the glucocorticoid family. It has a high topical anti-inflammatory activity.

It is used to control and prevent symptoms (especially shortness of breath and wheezing) caused by asthma by reducing inflammation levels as well as eases the symptoms of flare-ups of inflammatory bowel conditions.

Only 39 percent of an inhaled dose of this medicine is absorbed into the human body. In 1973, it was initially patented and in 1981, it was commercially used as an asthma medicine. In the present day, it is sold mainly under the brand name of Pulmicort.


It is used to treat numerous conditions, including – lung diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), diseases of the bowels or intestines, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (a condition in which the human body attacks the lining of the digestive tract, causing diarrhea, pain, fever, and weight loss), and hay fever (allergic rhinitis).


It is available as a pill, inhaler, rectal form, and nasal spray. The liquid for oral inhalation is used in children 12 months to 8 years of age and it may be used once a day, 1 to 4 sprays per nostril.

The powder for oral inhalation is used in adults and children 6 years of age and older. It is generally used two times per day. Wash your mouth after using this drug to prevent infections.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea;
  • bruising easily;
  • a sore throat;
  • chills;
  • headache;
  • colds;
  • diarrhea;
  • hoarseness;
  • fatigue;
  • fever;
  • dizziness;
  • abdominal pain;
  • urinary tract infection;
  • back pain;
  • low potassium (symptoms may include – nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and constipation);
  • fatigue;
  • acne;
  • indigestion;
  • constipation;
  • arthralgia (joint pain);
  • flatulence;
  • vomiting.

Rare side effects may include:

  • slow wound healing;
  • agitation;
  • mood swings;
  • depression;
  • unusual hair growth;
  • puffy face;
  • easy bruising;
  • vision problems;
  • unusual tiredness.

This drug should be used with caution by:

  • individuals using itraconazole or ketoconazole (drugs used to treat fungal infections);
  • individuals using steroid tablets or other steroids;
  • individuals with decreased liver function;
  • individuals who suffer from tuberculosis;
  • individuals with a lung infection;
  • children.

Avoid the use of grapefruit products while using this medicine since grapefruit may interact with this drug and may increase the risk of side effects.

Note – it is not recommended to use this medicine to treat symptoms of sudden asthma attacks. These symptoms include – wheezing, chest pain, or trouble breathing.

Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with other medications, especially:

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine);
  • Advair Diskus (fluticasone/salmeterol);
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine);
  • Advil (ibuprofen);
  • formoterol;
  • aspirin;
  • Imodium (loperamide);
  • Aspirin Low Strength (aspirin);
  • MiraLax (polyethylene glycol 3350);
  • Brovana (arformoterol);
  • Mucinex (guaifenesin);
  • Combivent (albuterol/ipratropium);
  • Paracetamol (acetaminophen);
  • DuoNeb (albuterol/ipratropium);
  • Singulair (montelukast);
  • ibuprofen;
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen);
  • Lasix (furosemide);
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine);
  • Nexium (esomeprazole);
  • Ventolin HFA (albuterol);
  • prednisone;
  • Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol);
  • Spiriva (tiotropium);
  • ProAir HFA (albuterol).


It belongs to the family of medicines known as adrenergic bronchodilators, drugs that are breathed in through the mouth to open up the bronchial tubes in the lungs.

Furthermore, it is used to prevent asthma brought on by physical exercise as well as to treat shortness of breath and wheezing caused by breathing problems (such as – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma).

Albuterol is actually the generic form of the brand-name drugs ProAir, Proventil, and Ventolin.


It is typically used to treat and prevent wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, caused by lung diseases, like – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways.


It comes as a syrup, a tablet, and an extended-release tablet which may be taken by mouth.

The usual dose of the inhalation form is 2 inhalations every 4 to 6 hours. The syrup and tablets are generally taken 3 or 4 times per day. Lastly, the extended-release tablets are typically taken once every 12 hours.

To prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm, it is recommended to use 2 inhalations 15 to 30 minutes before you start the physical exercise session. The effects should last 4 to 6 hours.

Side Effects And Precautions

Side effects may include:

  • tightness in the chest;
  • headache;
  • problems swallowing;
  • dizziness;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • sleep problems;
  • skin rash;
  • hoarseness;
  • shortness of breath;
  • a sore throat;
  • irregular breathing;
  • stuffy nose;
  • redness of the skin;
  • nausea;
  • stomach problems;
  • noisy breathing;
  • vomiting;
  • swelling of the eyelids, face, tongue, lips, throat, hands, feet, or legs;
  • diarrhea;
  • muscle pain;
  • dry mouth.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

There are no conclusive clinical studies on whether this medicine passes into breast milk. Therefore, it is recommended to talk to your healthcare provider before breastfeeding while using this medicine. There is also no data regarding pregnant women.

Budesonide vs Albuterol – What’s the Best Asthma Medicine?

Budesonide is a synthetic glucocorticoid steroid related to the naturally occurring hormone hydrocortisone or cortisol that is produced by the adrenal glands.

It is typically used to help prevent the symptoms of asthma. When used every day, this medicine decreases the number and severity of asthma attacks, however, it will not relieve an asthma attack that has already started.

Albuterol is a quick-acting bronchodilator that is in frequent use today. If there is any medicine that most patients with asthma should have on board, this would probably be number one. It has a duration of action of about 4 to 5 hours, however, it starts acting within 10 minutes.

Albuterol alone can work for individuals whose asthma only occasionally flares up, especially when they practice physical exercise or encounter trigger allergens.

For this reason, this medicine is recommended for use before any physical exercise session to prevent exercise-induced asthma. It can control symptoms of lung disease and asthma, but it doesn’t cure them.

Important note – albuterol is not recommended for repeated use. If you have to use it frequently to control asthma symptoms or if you use it two days every seven days to relieve the symptoms, your asthma is not well-controlled.

In conclusion, Budesonide is used as a prolonged asthma treatment, and Albuterol is used to prevent flares up before exercise.

Images credit – @Getty & Shutterstock

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