Compare Symbicort vs. Singulair

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

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(Budesonide / Formoterol)


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.Prevents breathing problems. Singulair (Montelukast) has fewer side effects but doesn't work as well as steroid inhalers for asthma. It also helps with allergies.
How it works
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.Singulair (Montelukast) is a leukotriene inhibitor. It lowers inflammation in your lungs and nasal passages to prevent asthma and relieve allergies.
Type of medication
Long-acting bronchodilator
Prescription only
Leukotriene modifier
Prescription only
Available as
  • Inhaler
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Granule
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
Reviews for Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
of people say Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Singulair (Montelukast)
+9% vs. Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
+7% vs. Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
+2% vs. Symbicort (Budesonide / Formoterol)
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 »
  • Dizziness 1%
  • Muscle weakness/fatiguea/fatigue 1%
  • Decreased liver function 1%
  • Congestion, nasal 1%
  • Pain, dental 1%
More Singulair side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • 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 »
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Other environmental triggers
    • Recent treatment with corticosteroid medication
    • Lowering dose of corticosteroid medication
    • History of phenylketonuria (PKU)
    • History of liver disease including hepatitis
    • history of alcohol use
    • Other medications that cause liver injury
    Detailed Singulair (Montelukast) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy category
    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
    BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

    Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

    See the FDA package insert
    No specific alcohol-related info.
    • There are reports of liver injury in people taking Singulair (Montelukast) mostly in combination with other factors such as drugs, alcohol, and liver disease. If you have any of these risk factors, your doctor will need to check your liver function periodically.
    No specific food-related info.
    • Granules can be taken by mouth or dissolved in liquid or soft food.
    Kidneys and liver
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-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.
    • Can cause behavior changes, agitation, aggression, and difficulty sleeping for some people.
    • Rare cases of behavior changes occur in adults and children taking Singulair (Montelukast). Symptoms range from irritability and memory problems to hallucinations and suicidal thinking. It is not clear if this is linked to history of these conditions. Get medical help immediately if you notice symptoms of agitation, aggression, sleep disturbance, or suicidal thoughts while taking Singulair (Montelukast).
    No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
    Upsides and benefits
    • 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.
    • Prevents symptoms and improves lung function in children and adults with chronic asthma.
    • A single 10 mg dose improves exercise-induced asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours.
    • Fewer side effects compared to other asthma treatments.
    • Also relieves nasal allergy symptoms.
    • Effective pill alternative to corticosteroid inhalers.
    Downsides and risks
    • 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.
    • You have to use Montelukast every day to control your symptoms.
    • Somewhat less effective than corticosteroid inhalers for asthma.
    • There's no generic available, so it can be expensive.
    • Can cause behavior changes, agitation, aggression, and difficulty sleeping for some people.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    • Lowers inflammation and opens airways to improve breathing.
    • Prevents breathing problems, but doesn't stop sudden cough or wheezing once they start.
    • 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.
    • Take it once a day to control asthma and allergy symptoms.
    • If you're using it for asthma or allergies, take it in the evening.
    • Use it 2 hours before exercising.
    • Granules can be taken by mouth or dissolved in liquid or soft food.
    • Doesn't treat sudden wheezing or asthma attacks once they start. Keep a fast-acting (rescue) inhaler with you.
    • The chewable tablets contain aspartame, so don't use them if you have a sensitivity to phenylalanine or phenylketones.
    Learn more
    More about SymbicortSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about SingulairSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert