Can you get Budesonide over the counter?

Reviewed by:
Dr. Robert Kwok
Director of Health Informatics
Last updated on January 5, 2022

Budesonide is a potent anti-inflammatory drug belonging to the class of corticosteroids. It is commonly marketed under the brand name Pulmicort for treating asthma.

It is available in different formulations such as inhalers, respule, pills, nasal sprays, and rectal forms. This medicine is for conditions such as bronchial asthma, inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, etc. It can provide relief in such conditions by lowering inflammation and by preventing acute attacks. 

Here are the different formulations of budesonide and what they are used for:

  • Inhalers – inhalers are devices that deliver a precise amount of medication directly into the lungs when a person inhales from the device. Hence, they are highly effective in inflammatory conditions affecting the lungs, such as bronchial asthma. 

  • Respule – the respule is a small vial that contains a liquid. The liquid can be put into an electronic nebulizer machine that delivers the drug by creating tiny droplets in a mist which can be easily inhaled by children or adults. 

  • Nasal sprays – nasal sprays are particularly useful in people with allergic rhinitis and nasal polyps. 

  • Rectal forms – these are used for inflammatory conditions of the bowel such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease. 

How does Budesonide work? 

Budesonide works by stimulating the corticosteroid receptors, which in turn reduces inflammation.

Side effects of Budesonide

Budesonide is a steroidal medicine that occasionally has undesired side effects. Some of the possible side effects of budesonide include: 

  • Oral thrush - a yeast infection of the mouth or throat caused by Candida albicans 

  • Cough 

  • Hoarseness of voice 

  • Sore Throat 

  • Headache 

  • Glaucoma - increased pressure in the eyeballs 

  • Cataract - blurring of vision due to opacification of the lens of the eye

  • Immunosuppression - when the immune system is not as effective at fighting off infections 

Some rare serious side effects can include:

  • Fever 

  • Rash, itching

  • Swelling of face or neck

  • Difficulty breathing 

  • Unusual bruising 

Can I get a Budesonide inhaler over the counter? 

No, you cannot buy budesonide over-the-counter. It is one of the prescription drugs for asthma that is not sold without the recommendation of a physician.

Its improper usage may cause some serious side effects, including reduced immune function. A compromised immune system increases the risk of catching infections. Patients must always consult a doctor before taking budesonide. A doctor can evaluate a patient's asthma, decide if budesonide is the right drug, and carefully adjust the dose according to the severity of the condition.

Book a HealthTap appointment with a doctor now to discuss options for getting an inhaler prescription online. 

What is asthma? 

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes the airways of the lungs to swell. Due to the swelling and excess mucus production, a person suffering from asthma may have wheezing and trouble breathing.

Asthma is caused by a complex interaction of genetics and environmental factors. It affects millions of people around the world each year.

However, not all people with asthma are affected in the same way. The symptoms of asthma can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience mild symptoms only a few times in a year while others may experience it a few times every day.

Find primary care doctors who may be the best asthma doctors for treating mild asthma symptoms online at HealthTap today. 

Can I book an online consultation for asthma?

Yes. HealthTap doctors are available to consult online. Our team has board-certified primary care doctors who can diagnose conditions and complete detailed assessments of asthma. This allows our patients to make informed decisions and explore treatment options for asthma. 

How do doctors diagnose asthma? Doctors review symptoms, treatments, and medical history to see if a patient fits a diagnosis of asthma. They might order certain tests to help evaluate the condition and rule out an alternate diagnoses. Occasionally, an in-person visit is required if it is not possible to diagnose someone over a video call, or because some tests are not available at HealthTap. 

How does budesonide help in the treatment of asthma?

A variety of medications can be used to manage asthma well. Budesonide is one of the different types of available asthma medications. Budesonide inhalers come in handy for the prevention of acute attacks of asthma.

However, not all cases of asthma require budesonide. Some people may not need it at all, while others may require it with different dosages and schedules to control their symptoms.

Asthma patients can use HealthTap to book an appointment with our expert doctors to learn if a budesonide inhaler is a good treatment. Our doctors can evaluate a patient's asthma, decide which medication is right for them, and determine a dosage and schedule tailored to their needs. Book an appointment with us today. 


Can a Budesonide inhaler be used for an acute asthma attack?

No, a budesonide inhaler is not a rescue medication for asthma attacks. Its role is for preventing asthma attacks if used regularly as directed by a doctor. Hence, it is used as a controller medicine. 

Can an asthma attack kill you?

Yes, a severe asthma attack can be fatal, especially if it is not treated right away.

When an acute attack occurs, it requires rescue medications for asthma attacks. In moderately severe or worse cases, hospitalization may be required. So, which medication is used for immediate control of asthma symptoms? Short-acting beta-agonists such as albuterol are common emergency asthma medications that can provide instant relief from asthma symptoms. 

Contraindications for the use of Budesonide

  • An acute attack of severe asthma, especially if not improving with rescue medication 

  • People who are allergic to budesonide

Some precautions to consider while taking budesonide

  • Always use the prescribed inhaler as suggested by a doctor. 

  • Never share an inhaler with other people. If someone might be in need of treatment for their mild asthma, they should get help from their own doctor.

  • People should rinse their mouths after taking the inhaler medication. This helps wash off the excess medication that may coat the oral cavity and throat. This simple practice is effective in reducing undesired side effects such as oral thrush.

  • Tell a doctor if pregnant or planning a pregnancy. 

  • Avoid sugary foods and excess carbohydrates if using high doses of budesonide. Large doses of budesonide can raise blood sugar levels. 

  • Quit smoking now, as smoking worsens asthma symptoms and increases the risk of an acute asthma attack.

Here's how HealthTap can help

  • Use HealthTap app to book a video consultation with a primary care doctor who can help manage asthma symptoms. 

  • Our doctors can send online asthma prescriptions to the nearest pharmacy. HealthTap doctors serve patients in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

  • Use our app to search prices at the five nearest pharmacies and save up to 70% on prescriptions. 

  • Send follow-up text messages with your HealthTap primary care doctor for free in case you have any questions after your visit.

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap articles are reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Visit https://www.healthtap.com/about-doctors/ to learn more and meet some of the medical editorial board members behind our blog. The information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. HealthTap is a virtual-first, affordable urgent- and primary-care clinic, providing top-quality physician care nationwide to Americans with or without insurance. Our proprietary, easy-to-use, and innovative apps and electronic medical record apply Silicon Valley standards to effectively engage consumers and doctors online to increase the equity, accessibility, and efficiency of ongoing medical care for consumers, providers, employers, and payers. In addition, with HealthTap, businesses can offer virtual primary care to employees for less than the cost of free coffee. HealthTap's US-based board-certified physicians are available throughout North America. For more information, visit www.healthtap.com.
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