Budesonide capsules

Sounds like 'bue-DES-oh-nide'

Key points about oral budesonide

  • Budesonide capsules are used to ease flare-ups of some bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease.
  • Budesonide capsules are also called Entocort.
  • Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. 
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Budesonide is a corticosteroid hormone that works by calming the body's immune system, and reducing inflammation. Budesonide capsules are used to ease flare-ups of some bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease and colitis. They decrease symptoms such as pain and diarrhoea. It does not cure these conditions.

  • The usual dose of budesonide is 9 milligrams (3 capsules) once a day for 8 weeks.  The dose is usually reduced for the last 2-4 weeks of treatment.
  • Always take your budesonide exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much budesonide to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

  • Take budesonide once a day, in the morning. Budesonide is best taken about 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast.
  • Swallow your capsules, with a glass of water. Do not break, chew or crush the capsules. Budesonide capsules are designed to release the medication slowly in the lower part of the small bowel and the first part of the large bowel. Breaking, chewing or crushing the capsules will cause all the contents to be released at once and will increase your chance of side effects. 
  • If you do have trouble swallowing, the capsules can be opened, and the contents mixed with apple sauce and taken straight away. It is important not to crush or chew the contents of the capsules.
  • If you forget your dose now and again, it is not necessary to make up for the dose you missed. Just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking budesonide. It may take 2 to 4 weeks before you get the full effect.
  • Do not stop taking budesonide suddenly; speak to your doctor before stopping. Often you will need to take a lower dose in the last 2 to 4 weeks before you stop the medication.

  • It is best not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are taking budesonide. A natural chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of budesonide in your bloodstream, which can increase your chance of side-effects.
  • Sour/Seville oranges may also interact with budesonide. Discuss with your pharmacist.
  • It is important to tell any health professional taking care of you that you are taking budesonide.
  • Taking budesonide can increase your risk of all types of infections. Tell your doctor if you come into contact with someone who has a contagious illness such as chickenpox, measles, or if you feel unwell.
  • If you are taking budesonide for long periods of time your blood pressure and blood glucose levels will need monitoring at regular intervals.
  • Vaccinations: the timing of any live vaccines will need to be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Like all medicines, budesonide can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness, feeling tired
  • These are quite common when you first start taking budesonide, and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Changes in mood or behaviour 
  • Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, bad dreams
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Problems with your stomach such as stomach pain, blood in your stool, or dark coloured stool
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rashes, itching, blisters, peeling skin, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or have problems breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Long-term use of budesonide may cause side effects such as: round face, change in body shape, change in hair growth, thin skin, weak bones, increased blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Tell your doctor if you develop these
  • Your blood pressure and blood glucose levels will need monitoring at regular intervals 
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product(external link)

The following links provide further information on budesonide:

Entocort®(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet


  1. Budesonide (systemic use)(external link) New Zealand Formulary

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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