Budesonide capsules and granules

Budesonide belongs to a class of medicines known as corticosteroids (more commonly called steroids).

Your pharmacist will give you a blue steroid treatment card. Carry this with you at all times.

If you come into contact with anyone who has measles, shingles or chickenpox (or suspects they might have them) you must see your doctor as soon as possible.

Type of medicine Corticosteroid
Used for Crohn's disease
Chronic diarrhoea due to collagenous colitis
Autoimmune hepatitis
Also called Budenofalk®; Entocort® CR
Available as Capsules, modified-release capsules, and granules

Crohn's disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the wall of the gut (gastrointestinal tract). Any part of the gut can be affected, although the most common site for the disease to start is the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum. Other parts of the small intestine and the colon are also commonly affected. When the disease flares up, the inflammation causes varying symptoms depending on which part of the gut is affected. Common symptoms are pain, diarrhoea, weight loss and ulcers. Steroid medicines like budesonide work by reducing inflammation, which eases the symptoms.

Budesonide capsules and granules are specially coated so that they do not start to work until they have reached the small intestine. This means that they are prescribed for people who have inflammation affecting the lower part of the small bowel and/or the upper part of the large bowel.

A brand of budesonide called Budenofalk® is used to treat some other conditions associated with inflammation too. It is a treatment for a type of chronic liver inflammation known as autoimmune hepatitis, and it also reduces diarrhoea caused by collagenous colitis (a chronic inflammatory condition of the large bowel).

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking budesonide it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any kind of infection, or if you have ever had tuberculosis (TB).
  • If you (or anyone you are in close contact with) have recently had chickenpox, measles or shingles.
  • If you have high blood pressure.
  • If you have had a heart attack or have any other heart problems.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have sugar diabetes or glaucoma (increased pressure in your eye). You should also tell your doctor if a close member of your family has either of these conditions.
  • If you have osteoporosis (weakened bones).
  • If you have cataracts.
  • If you have an underactive thyroid.
  • If you have ever had a blood clot in an artery or vein.
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have had a stomach ulcer.
  • If you have recently had, or are about to have, any vaccinations.
  • If you have ever had mental health problems, such as depression or psychosis.
  • If you have myasthenia gravis (this is a condition causing muscle weakness).
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever developed muscle pain after taking a steroid medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, it is important that you read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about budesonide and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how to take budesonide. This information will also be on the label of the packet of capsules/granules to remind you. It is important that you take your doses exactly as your doctor has told you. The following doses are a guide:
    • If you have been given Budenofalk® capsules, the usual dose is one capsule three times daily, 30-60 minutes before a meal.
    • If you have been given Entocort® capsules, the usual dose is three capsules (taken together) in the morning, preferably before breakfast.
    • Budenofalk® granules are taken as a single dose of one sachet in the morning, 30-60 minutes before breakfast. Place the granules on your tongue and swallow them with a drink of water.
  • Swallow the capsules (or granules) whole. This means do not break, crush, or chew them. Take your doses with a drink of water.
  • Do not take antacids or indigestion remedies during the two hours before and the two hours after you take this medicine. This is because antacids will affect the special coating on the capsules and granules, and may stop them from getting to the correct part of your bowel.
  • Try to take your doses at the same times of day, as this will help you to remember to take them. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Continue to take budesonide until your doctor tells you to stop. It is usual to be prescribed a course of treatment that lasts for up to eight weeks. Your doctor may ask you to reduce your dose during the last couple of weeks of the course.
  • You will be given a 'steroid treatment card' which says that you are on steroids and contains some important advice for you. It is important that you read this card and carry it with you at all times. It also contains details about your dose, how long you have been taking budesonide for, and who prescribed it for you. Please make sure that this information is kept up-to-date. If you are having an operation or any medical treatment, please tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking budesonide and show them your treatment card.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You may need to have some tests from time to time.
  • Budesonide may suppress your immune system, so it is important if you become ill that you make an appointment to see your doctor straightaway. Also, if you come into contact with anyone who has measles, shingles or chickenpox (or anyone who suspects they might have them), you must see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • It is recommended that you not drink grapefruit juice while you are on budesonide. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of budesonide in your bloodstream. This makes side-effects more likely.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with budesonide.
  • Some vaccines may not be suitable for you while you are being treated with budesonide. If you need any immunisations, make sure you mention that you are taking a steroid tablet.
  • Do not stop taking budesonide without speaking with your doctor first. This is particularly important if you have been taking budesonide for more than three weeks. Your doctor will want you to reduce your dose gradually when this is necessary, as stopping suddenly may lead to problems.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Possible budesonide side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Abdominal pain, feeling sick, indigestion Stick to simple or bland foods
Changes in behaviour or mood If you become anxious, confused, or start having worrying thoughts about harming yourself, speak with your doctor as soon as possible
Feeling tired If this becomes troublesome, speak with your doctor
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Infection Speak with your doctor about this, especially if you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox, measles or shingles
Blurred eyesight, muscle cramps, itchy skin rash, heavy or irregular periods, palpitations If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

For more information about side-effects which are possible when budesonide is taken long-term, see the separate condition leaflet called 'Oral steroids'.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Last Checked:
24/01/2013
Document ID:
3851 (v24)
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