Symbicort and Advair are similar brand-name prescription medications that treat asthma and COPD. They contain slightly different active ingredients.

Symbicort and Advair are two drugs that treat asthma and the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Such symptoms include wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These drugs are similar but have a few differences, such as their active ingredients and side effects.

Symbicort and Advair are brand-name combination drugs. They both combine a corticosteroid with another drug called a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist. The corticosteroid works by decreasing inflammation in your lungs. Symbicort uses the corticosteroid budesonide, while Advair contains fluticasone. The long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist in either drug helps relax the muscles around the airways in your lungs. In Symbicort, this drug is formoterol, and in Advair it’s salmeterol.

Symbicort comes in a metered dose inhaler. Advair, on the other hand, comes in two forms: Advair HFA and Advair Diskus. Advair HFA is an aerosol inhaler that contains a propellant to help the medication reach your lungs. Advair Diskus contains a powder and requires you to breathe in quickly and deeply to help the medication reach your lungs.

Advair is approved for use in a wider age range of people. Symbicort and Advair HFA are both approved for use in people who are 12 years or older. However, Advair Diskus is approved for use in people who are 4 years or older.

Both drugs are used for long-term treatment.

Most pharmacies keep both drugs in stock. Symbicort and Advair aren’t available as generic drugs, so they’re both expensive. According to, Symbicort ranges from about $260 to $300 per month. Advair ranges from about $275 to $445 per month. The amount you pay depends on your dosage, the form you take, and your health insurance coverage.

Most of the side effects of Symbicort and Advair are the same. The most common side effects that occur in children happen in those who use the Advair Diskus. These side effects include ear, nose, and throat infections.

The table below highlights other differences in side effects between these two drugs.

Side effect SymbicortAdvair
throat pain
stuffy nose
back pain
stomach discomfort
muscle and bone pain
hoarseness and voice changes

You can review complete lists of individual side effects at side effects of Symbicort and side effects of Advair.

Symbicort and Advair interact with similar drugs. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or keep the drug from working well. For lists of the drugs that each interacts with, see Symbicort interactions and Advair interactions.

Symbicort and Advair can also cause problems if you have certain health issues. If you have any of the following medical conditions, you should discuss them with your doctor before taking either drug:

  • heart problems
  • high blood pressure
  • seizures
  • thyroid problems
  • diabetes
  • liver problems
  • osteoporosis
  • immune system problems
  • glaucoma or cataracts
  • allergies to any drugs

Symbicort and Advair are very similar in how they treat asthma and COPD. However, their slight differences in side effects, cost, and active ingredients may be deciding factors for you. If your doctor thinks that these drugs are options for you, work with them to choose the one that’s best for you.