Download the COPD Medications PDF.
What are COPD medications used for?
Since COPD is usually progressive, regular treatment options should be ongoing unless significant side effects occur. Medication plans are introduced based on the level of COPD severity and symptoms. Your provider will prescribe medication as part of your treatment plan.
COPD treatment consists of medication and non-medication therapies. Medications are used to:
- Prevent and control symptoms
- Reduce the frequency and worsening of COPD symptom
- Improve your breathing
- Improve your ability to exercise
The following classes of medications are commonly used in treating COPD. While we have tried to provide multiple examples, the landscape of medications changes on a regular basis and we encourage you to contact your provider to determine what medication plan is best for you.
- Help relax tight muscles around the airways
- Taken either on an as-needed basis for relief of symptoms or on a regular basis to prevent or reduce symptoms
Examples: Fast- or long-acting beta-2 agonists (Ventolin, ProAir), anticholinergics (Atrovent, Incruse Ellipta, Spiriva Respimat) and/or combination bronchodilator therapy (Anoro Ellipta, Stiloto Respimat)
- Help reduce the frequency of exacerbations (flare-ups) by reducing inflammation in the airways
- Recommended for patients with more advanced COPD and repeated exacerbations
Examples: Inhaled corticosteroid (Arnuity® Ellipta®) and combination corticosteroidbronchodilator therapy (Breo® Ellipta®, Advair®, Symbicort®)
- Help reduce inflammation during an exacerbation (flare-up)
- Long-term treatment not recommended
Examples: Prednisone or methylprednisolone
PDE 4 inhibitors
- Chronic medication that reduces hospitalizations and flare ups related to COPD. Used as an add-on medication to long-acting inhalers
- Chronic medication used to help decrease shortness of breath
- Interacts with many medications
This content is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice.