Compare Spiriva vs. Symbicort

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Spiriva
(Tiotropium)

Symbicort
(Budesonide / Formoterol)

Makes it easier to breathe. Spiriva (Tiotropium) works well to reduce COPD symptoms and flare-ups with fewer side effects than some medicines that open airways, but you have to use it every day.Prevents breathing problems. Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol) is good for people who need two medicines to control their asthma or COPD, but it might be expensive since there's no generic available.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.739130434782608Spiriva
Reviews for Spiriva (Tiotropium)
62%
of people say Spiriva (Tiotropium) is worth it
43%
say it works well
9%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
57%
5% vs. Spiriva (Tiotropium)
39%
4% vs. Spiriva (Tiotropium)
15%
6% vs. Spiriva (Tiotropium)
Side effects
SpirivaSymbicort
  • Dry mouth 13%
  • Respiratory tract infection 4%
  • Sore throat 2%
  • Sinus inflammation 2%
  • Urinary tract infection 2%
  • Chest pain (non-specific) 2%
  • Abdominal pain 2%
  • Yeast infection 2%
  • Rash 2%
  • Nosebleed 2%
More Spiriva side effects »
  • Stomach discomfort 5%
  • Oral candidiasis 4%
  • Headache 4%
  • Throat pain 4%
  • Lung infection 3%
  • Ear, nose, or throat infection 3%
  • Common cold 2%
  • Flu 2%
  • Nasal congestion 2%
  • Vomiting 2%
More Symbicort side effects »
How it works
SpirivaSymbicort
Spiriva (Tiotropium) is a bronchodilator. It relaxes muscles in your lungs to open your airways and make breathing easier.Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol) is a combination medicine. Budesonide (a corticosteroid) lowers lung inflammation to control asthma and COPD. Formoterol (a bronchodilator) relaxes muscles in your lungs to open airways and make breathing easier.
Type of medication
SpirivaSymbicort
Bronchodilator
Long-acting bronchodilator
Prescription only
Anti-inflammatory
Corticosteroid
Bronchodilator
Long-acting bronchodilator
Prescription only
Available as
SpirivaSymbicort
  • Inhaler
  • Inhaler
Used for (click to learn more)
SpirivaSymbicort
Risk factors for serious side effects
SpirivaSymbicort
  • History of atropine allergic reaction
    • History of narrow-angle glaucoma
    • History of urinary bladder blockage (urinary obstruction)
    • History of enlarged prostate
    • Severe milk protein allergy
    • History of moderate to severe kidney disease
    • Taking with other anticholinergic medications
    Detailed Spiriva (Tiotropium) risks & warnings »
    • Adverse effect of long-acting beta agonist drugs (LABAs), one of the medications in Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol), a combination drug.
    • History of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema
    • Age greater than 65 years
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
    • Not rinsing mouth after use
    • Higher dose of the corticosteroid medication contained in Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
    • Adverse effect of long-acting beta agonist drugs (LABAs) found in Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol), a combination medication.
    • History of arrhythmia, hypertension or heart failure
    Detailed Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy category
    SpirivaSymbicort
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    Alcohol
    No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
    Food
    No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
    Kidneys and liver
    • The kidney is mainly responsible for removing Spiriva (Tiotropium) from the body so people with kidney disease or reduced function need to be watched closely. Spiriva (Tiotropium) can build up in the body and cause certain side effects. Tell your doctor if you develop dry mouth, blurry vision, confusion, sweating, increased heart rate or constipation. You may need to discuss other medication options to treat your COPD.
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    Sex
    No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
    Sleep
    No specific sleep-related info.
    • Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol) may increase blood pressure and heart rate, especially if you already have these conditions. These symptoms are related to one of the medications in this product so don't change or increase your dose without talking to your doctor first. Tell your doctor if you develop dizziness, tremor, nausea, rapid heartbeat, become very tired or have difficulty sleeping while taking Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol), you may need to change or stop this medication.
    Weight
    No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
    Upsides and benefits
    SpirivaSymbicort
    • Helps you breathe easier and lessens the need for a fast-acting (rescue) inhaler.
    • Reduces flare-ups and hospitalizations with fewer side effects compared to some other medicines that open airways.
    • You only need to take it once a day.
    • 2-in-1 medicine that lowers inflammation and opens airways in your lungs. Medicines are more effective together than alone.
    • Makes lung function significantly better.
    • Lowers the number of flare-ups and rescue inhaler uses in asthma and COPD.
    • In studies, shown to improve asthma symptoms, rescue inhaler use, and lung function on the first day.
    Downsides and risks
    SpirivaSymbicort
    • Won't cure your COPD (but it will relieve your symptoms).
    • You'll need to use this medicine for a long time, and you have to take it every day.
    • Can make symptoms of enlarged prostate or urinary blockage worse.
    • Can worsen a certain type of glaucoma.
    • You might feel dizzy or have blurry vision while taking this medicine.
    • You have to use Symbicort twice a day, every day to control your symptoms.
    • You can't lower the dose or stop taking it too suddenly.
    • Lower doses are not as effective for COPD.
    • Can make your heart race.
    • Steroids can slow height growth in kids.
    • Because steroids suppress your immune system, you can catch bacterial and viral infections easier, and they can take longer to go away.
    • There have been some reports of worsening asthma leading to death when taking this medicine.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    SpirivaSymbicort
    • Don't swallow the capsule. Insert the capsule into an inhaler device only.
    • Use daily to control your COPD.
    • Starts working the first few hours, but it may take longer to feel full effects.
    • Don't breathe out into the inhaler.
    • You might feel dizzy and notice changes in your vision.
    • Don't use it if you have an allergy to atropine.
    • Contains lactose, so don't use it if you're allergic to milk protein.
    • Prevents breathing problems, but doesn't stop sudden cough or wheezing once they start.
    • Lowers inflammation and opens airways to improve breathing.
    • Starts working in about 30 minutes, but can take 1 to 2 weeks to feel full effects.
    • Use inhaler in a level position, and don't breathe out into the device.
    • Rinse your mouth out with water after each use.
    • Shake inhaler for 5 seconds before you use it.
    • Pump the inhaler 4 times before inhaling the first dose, or if it's been more than a month since your last dose.
    • Call 911 or your doctor if it's hard to breathe, or if you have an asthma attack while taking this medication.
    • Prevents breathing problems, but doesn't stop sudden cough or wheezing once they start.
    Learn more
    More about SpirivaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about SymbicortSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert