Medicines for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
There are many types of medicines to manage your COPD. Some help to control or prevent symptoms. These are called maintenance medicines. They are also called long-acting medicines. You may take these medicines every day. Or you may take them as instructed by your healthcare provider.
Other medicines for COPD are called rescue medicines. They are also called short-acting medicines. You take these only when you have symptoms. This means if you have more shortness of breath or chest tightness.
You can learn more about these medicines below. Take this sheet with you to your next office visit. Ask your healthcare provider to help you fill it out.
These relax the muscles around your airways. This lets you breathe more easily. They include:
Short-acting beta-2 agonists. These are rescue medicines. They work soon after you use them. An example is albuterol.
Long-acting beta-2 agonists (LABA). These are for COPD maintenance. They work more slowly than the short-acting type. But the effects last longer. An example is salmeterol.
Anticholinergics. These include:
Methylxanthines. These are for COPD maintenance. They have effects that last a long time. They may help if you have symptoms when you sleep. An example is theophylline.
These reduce inflammation. They also reduce swelling and mucus. This lets you breathe more easily. They include:
Inhaled corticosteroids. These are for COPD maintenance. They are used with an inhaler or nebulizer. An example is budesonide.
Oral corticosteroids. These are rescue medicines. They are taken by mouth. They may be used when symptoms get worse. Examples are prednisone and methylprednisolone.
PDE4 (phosphodiesterase type 4) inhibitors
These reduce the risk for flare-ups if you have severe COPD. An example is roflumilast.
These combine the effects of different types of medicines. For example, they may relax the muscles around the airways. And they may lessen airway swelling or inflammation. An example is albuterol/ipratropium.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe other medicines.
My medicine: __________________________________________
What it does: __________________________________________
When to take it: __________________________________________
Herbal products and supplements
Some products for COPD can be bought without a prescription. These include herbs, extracts, or supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any of these. They can interact with the medicines you use.