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Advair and Symbicort: Combination Asthma Inhalers

Treatment With Advair and Symbicort Combines Inhaled Steroids Plus LABA


Updated November 15, 2010

Advair and Symbicort: Combination Asthma Inhalers


Photo © GlaxoSmithKline

What Are Combination Products Like Advair and Symbicort?

Advair and Symbicort are controller medications that combine two drugs into one inhaler (in medical terms: inhaled steroids with a long acting beta agonist). A number of studies suggest possible benefits of combining these medications into a single inhaler as opposed to prescribing them separately. Additionally, a few studies have suggested the possibility of using a combination product as your only inhaler for both control and acute symptoms, but you should discuss this with your asthma doctor before attempting this.

Advantages of Advair and Symbicort

  • More convenient
  • Increases compliance with drug
  • Less expensive
  • Lower doses of inhaled steroid that can minimize side effects

Disadvantages of Advair and Symbicort

  • Less flexibility in dosing
  • If you use medication to relieve acute symptoms, you can receive a much higher dose of the steroid than is currently recommended.

How Do Combination Products Like Advair and Symbicort Work?

Combination products like Advair and Symbicort contain 2 active medications that work to treat your asthma differently:

  • Inhaled steroid- Acts on the airways of the lung to decrease inflammation.
  • LABA- Provides bronchodilation by relaxing smooth muscle in the lungs and making the airways wider, thereby decreasing symptoms.


  • Advair which contains contains the steroid Fluticasone (Flovent) and the LABA Salmeterol (Serevent)
  • Symbicort containing the steroid, Budesonide (Pulmicort) and the LABA Formoterol (Foradil)

Potential Side Effects of Products Like Advair and Symbicort

As with most other drugs, only a small percentage of patients experience side effects. Potential side effects are generally similar to those of both the inhaled steroid and the LABAs. Advair and Symbicort both carry the "Black Box" warning of the other LABAs and the potential side effects of inhaled steroids are similar. As previously mentioned, the combination has allowed some patients to achieve control at lower doses and decrease risk of side effects due to the lower dose.


Combination products can be a useful tool for patients that are not able to achieve control of their asthma on an inhaled steroid alone. You and your physician need to to discuss the possible risks and benefits of combination therapy and make sure you notify your physician of any worsening of your asthma symptoms.


Nelson HS. Combination Therapy of Long-acting β agonists and Inhaled Corticosteroids in the Management of Chronic Asthma. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports 2005, 5:123–129.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: July 1, 2009. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

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