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Advair vs. Symbicort: Which Medication Should You Use for Asthma?

Over 25 million Americans have asthma. If you’re one of them, then you probably already know that symptoms can flare up at any given moment, even if you feel fine most of the time.

For this reason, you might want to look into long-term medications. These can help keep your airways open and decrease the chances of having serious attacks.

If you’re wondering about Advair vs. Symbicort for asthma, then keep reading. We’ll discuss each medication in detail so you can make a better-informed decision.

What Is Advair?

Advair is a prescription medication that is used to manage asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on a long-term basis. It’s made of two medicines: fluticasone (corticosteroid) and salmeterol (long-acting beta 2 adrenergic).

The corticosteroid part is an anti-inflammatory, which means it helps your lungs stay open. On the other hand, the long-acting beta 2 adrenergic is there to help relax the muscles in your airways. Together, they work to keep your respiratory system as clear as possible.

What Is Symbicort?

Symbicort is also a prescription medication used to manage asthma and COPD. Like Advair, it has two medicines in it: budesonide (corticosteroid) and formoterol (long-acting beta 2 adrenergic).


Both Advair and Symbicort are brand-name drugs that don’t have generic versions available (except for Advair Diskus). This means it may cost you quite a bit to fill your prescription. However, some insurance policies do cover this medication, so do check with your provider.

Keep reading to find out more about the similarities and differences between these prescriptions.

Expensive Drugs

Both Advair and Symbicort are pretty expensive; they cost about $400 per inhaler. The exact amount depends on the dosage you need, how much your insurance covers, and which form you take.

Age Limitations

Both drugs are approved for usage in people who are 12 or older. This means if you have teenagers who have issues with their asthma, you can ask their doctor to prescribe either drug for them.

Side Effects

For both drugs, the most common side effects you’ll see in children are infection of the ear, nose, or throat.

In adults, side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Vomiting
  • Oral candidiasis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Do note that not every patient experiences these side effects. While it’s possible to suffer from every single one on the list, it’s very likely that you may experience none at all.

Drug Interactions

Because these two medications are very similar, they have almost identical drug interactions. They are:

  • Beta-blockers
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors
  • Diuretics
  • MAO inhibitors

To find out the major difference in drug interactions, skip to the “Differences” section.


No matter which medication you choose, there’s a risk of both infection and reduced bone mineral density if you take them for a very long period of time. But for most patients, the benefits they get from the drugs outweigh these risks.

Also, because of the chemical makeup of these medicines, there’s a chance of developing thrush in your mouth. Because of this, you should thoroughly rinse out your mouth after each use to prevent the thrush from developing.

Pregnancy Category C

Advair and Symbicort are both Pregnancy Category C. This means these drugs have an effect on animal fetuses but no studies have been done on human pregnancies.

If you’re pregnant, you’ll want to discuss with your doctor theĀ potential effects of being on either medication. Together, you can weigh the pros and cons and figure out if it’s worthwhile being on this type of medicine.


Both drugs are available in inhalation aerosol form, but only Advair is available in inhalation powder form as well. If you’re having (or have had) issues with inhalation aerosol, then Advair may be better to try, as it has inhalation powder.

Lower Age Limit for Advair Diskus

While both medications are approved for people over 12, Advair Diskus (inhalation powder) is approved for people over 4. So if you have a young child who needs to manage their serious asthma symptoms, Advair Diskus is a fantastic choice for them.

Side Effects

While both Advair and Symbicort have similar side effects, they have different ones as well.

For Symbicort, you may get:

  • Pain in the throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sinusitis
  • Discomfort in the stomach
  • Back pain
  • Flu

For Advair, you may get:

  • Pain in the muscles and bones
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness and/or changes in your voice

Again, not every single side effect happens to everyone. So you may experience a few or none at all when taking either medication.

Tricyclic Antidepressant Drug Interaction

The main difference in drug interaction is with Symbicort, it may interfere with tricyclic antidepressants. If you’re currently taking those, or are thinking of taking them in the future, then you may be better off choosing Advair over Symbicort.

Foods to Avoid

If you use Advair, there are no known alcohol or food interactions. While this doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear, in general, it should be pretty safe to eat or drink as normal.

However, with Symbicort, thereĀ is a food/drink interaction. Grapefruit and its juice can raise the levels of budesonide in your body, which is an active ingredient in this drug. If you eat or drink grapefruit regularly, you may experience more side effects.

If grapefruit is a regular part of your diet, then you might want to choose Advair Diskus over Symbicort.

Advair vs Symbicort: Manage Your Asthma Symptoms With the Right Medication

When it comes to Advair vs. Symbicort, what’s right for you depends on your personal situation. This is why it’s extremely important to discuss this matter with your doctor and together, figure out which medication is best for you.

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