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Breo Ellipta vs Symbicort

Compare Breo Ellipta vs Symbicort:


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases (including refractory asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema) that block airflow in the lungs.

It is the third leading cause of death in the US and is estimated to affect 32 million people in this country. COPD also affects over 700,000 Canadians. Moreover, COPD kills 30,000 people a year in the United Kingdom.

Globally, it is estimated that over 3 million deaths are caused by the disease every year. It affects women and men almost equally.

According to statistics, patients can expect to live 12 to 18 years after a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease diagnosis, depending on the severity of the disease.

More than 97 percent of all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-related deaths occur in people older than age 64.


Common COPD symptoms can include:

  • poor exercise tolerance;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • frequent coughing;
  • wheezing.


The causes of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include:

  • smoking cigarettes – this is because smoking inflames and irritates the lungs, which results in scarring;
  • infectious diseases which destroy lung tissue in patients;
  • secondhand smoke;
  • prolonged exposure to dust, air pollutants, or workplace fumes;
  • exposure to fumes from burning fuel for heating and cooking in poorly ventilated homes.


If your shortness of breath is from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you can do several things to control it:

  • learn about paced breathing and ways of breathing more efficiently with activities;
  • begin a regular exercise program to build up your strength;
  • take your medications regularly.

Here is a comparison between Breo Ellipta and Symbicort, two medications that are used in the treatment of COPD:

Breo Ellipta

It contains two medicines:

  • vilanterol – a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) which opens lung airways by helping the muscles around them to stay relaxed;
  • fluticasone furoate – an inhaled corticosteroid that helps decrease inflammation in the lungs.


Symbicort is a metered-dose inhaler that contains:

  • formoterol – it is a long-acting bronchodilator that relieves bronchoconstriction;
  • budesonide – it is a steroid that improves asthma symptoms by decreasing inflammation and irritation.

It was discovered and manufactured by AstraZeneca.


Both medicines are used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Mechanism of Action

Breo Ellipta

Vilanterol trifenatate helps the small air passages to remain open (when it is taken regularly) by relaxing the muscles of the small air passages in the lungs. It belongs to a family of drugs called bronchodilators.

Fluticasone furoate reduces the irritation and swelling in the small air passages in the lungs, therefore easing breathing problems. It belongs to a family of drugs called corticosteroids, often simply called steroids.


Formoterol works by increasing the airflow to the lungs and decreasing resistance in the respiratory airways, while budesonide works by reducing and preventing respiratory tract inflammation.

Side Effects

Possible side effects of Breo Ellipta can include:

  • a hoarse voice;
  • anxiety;
  • sore throat;
  • pounding in your neck or ears;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • joint pain;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • sores in your mouth and throat;
  • chest pain;
  • runny or stuffy nose;
  • wheezing;
  • fever;
  • back pain;
  • a feeling like you might pass out;
  • headache;
  • seeing halos around lights;
  • vomiting;
  • eye pain;
  • tunnel vision;
  • feeling very weak or tired;
  • blurred vision;
  • cough with yellow or green mucus.

Possible side effects of Symbicort can include:

  • stuffy nose;
  • headache;
  • shaking (tremors);
  • throat irritation;
  • muscle cramps;
  • nausea;
  • increased thirst or urination;
  • vomiting;
  • vision problems (like blurred vision);
  • stomach upset;
  • trouble sleeping;
  • diarrhea;
  • mental/mood changes (like nervousness);
  • signs of infection (like a persistent sore throat);
  • white patches on the tongue or in the mouth;
  • changes in your voice;
  • muscle or joint pain;
  • back pain.


The recommended dose of Breo Ellipta is 1 inhalation per day.

The maximum dose is 1 inhalation in a 24-hour period. It is recommended to use the medicine at the same time every day.

The recommended dose of Symbicort is two puffs twice per day, about 12 hours apart.

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Warnings & Precautions

To make sure Breo Ellipta is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have:

  • seizures;
  • a weak immune system;
  • a personal history of osteoporosis;
  • high blood pressure;
  • herpes infection of the eyes;
  • diabetes;
  • tuberculosis;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • cataracts;
  • glaucoma;
  • liver disease;
  • heart disease.

To make sure Symbicort is safe for you, tell your healthcare professional if you have ever had:

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • high blood pressure;
  • low potassium levels in your blood;
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • osteoporosis;
  • diabetes;
  • any type of infection;
  • tuberculosis;
  • herpes infection of the eyes;
  • cataracts;
  • glaucoma.

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Drug Interactions

Breo Ellipta may interact in a negative way with the following medications:

  • albuterol;
  • prednisone (a synthetic glucocorticoid drug that is used to suppress the immune system);
  • furosemide;
  • metformin.

Symbicort may interact in a negative way with the following medications:

  • ibuprofen;
  • albuterol;
  • lisinopril (a drug belonging to the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor class);
  • amlodipine;
  • trazodone;
  • aspirin;
  • amiodarone;
  • prednisone;
  • azithromycin (an antibiotic useful for the treatment of bacterial infections);
  • metformin;
  • Combivent;
  • Tresiba;
  • furosemide.


Using alcohol while taking these medicines may lead to negative interactions.

It is best to avoid or limit the intake of alcohol.

Is It Safe During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?

It is not known whether these medicines are safe to use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Talk to your doctor before use.

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Conclusion: Breo Ellipta vs Symbicort

Breo Ellipta keeps the air passage open and makes it easier to breathe by relaxing the muscles in the walls of the small air passages in the lungs.

It has 2 active ingredients – fluticasone and vilanterol and is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Symbicort is used to prevent bronchospasm in adults and children who are at least 6 years old with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This medicine contains a combination of formoterol (a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways to improve breathing) and budesonide (a steroid that reduces inflammation in the body).

In conclusion, both medications are effective in treating COPD symptoms, but they contain different active ingredients.