Bricanyl Turbuhaler is a medicine that is prescribed to treat the symptoms of asthma or other breathing problems e.g. wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, a feeling of tightness in the chest. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional difficulties with breathing. It can affect people of all ages and often starts in childhood, though it can also start when you are an adult. There is no cure for asthma but there is a range of treatments that can ease or prevent the symptoms so you can lead a normal life. 

It is important that you speak to a doctor so your asthma is well managed. Well-managed asthma should not prevent you from taking part in normal activities including a range of sports.  

3 people a year die from asthma in the UK and it is estimated that two-thirds of these can be prevented by proper medication, an estimated 75% of hospitalisation due to asthma could also be avoided by taking the proper medication.  

It’s not enough to simply have the correct prescription, you also need to ensure you know exactly how and when to take your medication. It is quite common to have more than one asthma medicine as different types perform different functions. 

Asthma can be triggered by a number of things, from sudden changes in temperature to exercise, to being unwell with a cold to air pollution. It can help to be aware of your own triggers when it comes to managing your symptoms. 

Inhalers have been commonly used for asthma since the 1970s and since their introduction, the number of deaths from asthma has fallen. There are two main types of inhaler on the market: preventer inhalers which help prevent symptoms and reduce the risk of a life-threatening asthma attack, and reliever inhalers which help to manage the symptoms when they occur. In most cases, you will be prescribed both types of inhaler. Studies show that it can be harmful to your health to only take a reliever inhaler over a long period of time. This is a sign that your asthma is not well-managed and therefore puts you at risk. 

Bricanyl is one of the reliever inhalers that you can take alongside a preventative inhaler. To find out more about how it could help you see the information below. 

What is Bricanyl? 

Bricanyl Turbuhaler is a medicine that is prescribed to treat the symptoms of asthma or other breathing problems e.g. wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, a feeling of tightness in the chest. Bricanyl is classed as a reliever inhaler. 

The active ingredient in Bricanyl is a medicine called terbutaline. Terbutaline is part of a group of medicines called ‘beta-agonists’ which work on certain muscles. It relaxes these specific muscles which cause the airways in the lungs to open up. Bricanyl usually works within a few minutes once you take your inhaler. A Bricanyl inhaler is known as a DPI inhaler (dry-powder inhaler) it dispenses one dose of powder per puff. 

When is Bricanyl used?

Bricanyl is usually prescribed alongside a preventer inhaler. You take the preventer inhaler regularly, while Bricanyl should only be used as and when you experience symptoms like: 

  • Coughing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Tightness in your chest 

Using a reliever inhaler like Bricanyl can help to get your asthma back under control and prevent an asthma attack. Use it as soon as you notice the symptoms and it will get to work quickly. 

If you find that: 

  • Your breathing is getting worse
  • You often wake at night with asthma
  • You start getting a tight chest
  • You are not getting relief from your current dose

These are signs that your asthma is not being controlled. You may need a different or additional treatment straight away. Bricanyl can be prescribed for both adults and children

How do you use Bricanyl? 

Proper technique when taking your inhaler is really important as good inhaler skills ensure the correct amount of medicine gets to the lungs. It also lessens side effects, as less of the medicine will escape to the rest of the body. 

It is best to take your inhaler standing or sitting up straight, follow these steps each time you take your Bricanyl inhaler: 

  • Check the indicator window on your inhaler to ensure it isn’t empty
  • Hold the inhaler upright and twist the grip forwards and backwards as far as you can until you hear a click. This means the inhaler is ready to use
  • Remove the cap and check that the inside of the inhaler is clean (to avoid inhaling fluff etc.)
  • Breathe out gently away from the inhaler to empty your lungs
  • Place the mouthpiece between your lips to create a seal
  • Breathe in gently until you feel that your lungs are full
  • Remove the inhaler, close your mouth and hold your breath for up to ten seconds
  • If you need to take 2 puffs, repeat the process again

Bricanyl should be carried with you at all times so that you can take as soon as you start to feel any asthma symptoms. This will stop them from worsening and should prevent an asthma attack from occurring. You should also keep an eye on how many doses of inhaler you have left so that you don’t get caught without medication when you need it. 

What dosages are there?

Each puff of Bricanyl contains 0.4mg of the active ingredient Terbutaline sulfate, which corresponds to a 0.5mg metered dose. As Bricanyl is a reliever inhaler, your prescription will usually state to take either one or two puffs as required. You can see how many doses your inhaler contains in the window on the inhaler itself. One puff is one dose. 

‘Take as required’ means take as soon as you are experiencing asthma symptoms. You should react quickly and take your inhaler as soon as the symptoms start to prevent them from worsening. Remember Bricanyl should be carried with you at all times. 

You should not need more than 4 doses of Bricanyl in 24 hours as each dose should provide up to 6 hours of relief. If you take more Bricanyl than you should, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. If you are taking your reliever inhaler more than 3 times a week you should make an appointment to see your doctor as this is a sign that your asthma is not well managed. The same goes for using more than one inhaler a month or more than 12 reliever inhalers over the course of a year. 

If you are having an asthma attack you can use your reliever inhaler more than the recommended amount, in fact, you can take up to 10 puffs in quick succession.  

The checklist below is a good guide for how to use your inhaler if you are having an asthma attack. 

  • Sit up straight and try to stay calm 
  • Take one puff of your reliever inhaler every 30-60 seconds, up to 10 puffs 
  • If you feel any worse or do not feel better after 10 puffs call an ambulance 
  • Repeat step two after 15 minutes whilst waiting for an ambulance  

What are the side effects of Bricanyl? 

As with all medications taking Bricanyl can cause side effects in some people. Not everyone will experience side effects. Following the proper instructions for taking your inhaler will help to lessen side effects. 

Very common side effects (affecting more than 1 in 10 people) are: 

  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Headaches 

Other common side effects (affecting up to 1 in 10 people) are:

  • Fast or pounding heartbeat; 
  • Cramp or feeling tense; 
  • Low levels of potassium in your blood meaning you may feel thirsty, weak or experience pins and needles. 

There is also a chance you may experience some of the following (frequency cannot be estimated with the available data): 

  • Irregular heartbeats 
  • Chest pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Irritation in the mouth and throat 
  • Changes in sleeping pattern 
  • Feeling restless, agitated or hyperactive 
  • Be on the lookout for allergic reactions: 
  • Swollen face 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Skin rash 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Feeling faint 
  • Wheezing immediately after taking the inhaler 

If you experience a severe allergic reaction contact emergency services immediately. 

When shouldn’t you use Bricanyl? 

You should not use Bricanyl if you are allergic to terbutaline or any of the other ingredients. Bricanyl contains lactose which is a type of sugar. If your doctor has diagnosed you with an intolerance to some sugars you may need to discuss this before taking Bricanyl.  The amount of lactose does not normally cause problems for people who are lactose intolerant. The lactose may contain small amounts of milk residues. If you are hypersensitive to milk proteins this may cause an allergic reaction. 

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using Bricanyl if you suffer from diabetes as you may require extra blood tests when you start using Bricanyl. 

You should also talk to your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following apply to you: 

  • You have a history of heart disease, irregular heart rhythm or angina 
  • You have an overactive thyroid gland 
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding or if you become pregnant whilst taking Bricanyl

Bricanyl is not likely to affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Does Bricanyl interact with other medications? 

Bricanyl can affect the way some medicines work and some medicines can affect how Bricanyl works, tell your doctor if you are taking or have recently taken any medication, including over the counter and herbal medicines. 

It is particularly important to mention any of the following types of medicine:

  • Steroids (including prednisolone) 
  • Medicines called ‘xanthines’ (such as theophylline) 
  • Medicines called beta-blockers, including eyedrops such as timolol 
  • Water tablets (diuretics) such as furosemid

If you are going to have surgery under general anaesthetic the operating staff will need to be aware you are taking Bricanyl to avoid complications. 

Where can you buy Bricanyl? 

You can buy Bricanyl from any pharmacy including an online pharmacy, but you will need a prescription from a doctor in order to purchase it. This can be your regular GP or another doctor you have spoken to specifically about taking Bricanyl. 

Can I get Bricanyl without a prescription? 

No, you cannot buy Bricanyl over the counter, you need a prescription from a doctor to buy Bricanyl



References Asthma attacks (2019) Retrieved from Asthma inhalers, medicines and treatments (2019) Retrieved from How to use your inhaler  (2019) Retrieved from 

AstraZeneca Bricanyl Turbohaler patient leaflet (November 2017) Retrieved from 

NHS Overview Asthma (February 2018) Retrieved from 

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham About your Turbohaler (April 2017) Retrieved from 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.