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    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - control drugs

    COPD - control drugs

    Control drugs for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are drugs you take to control, or prevent, your symptoms of COPD. You must use them every day for the drugs to work well.

    You and your doctor can make a plan for the control drugs that you should use. This plan will include when you should take them and how much you should take.

    You may need to take these drugs for at least a month before you start to feel better. Take them even when you feel okay. Take enough with you when you travel.

    Plan ahead. Make sure you do not run out.

    Anticholinergic Inhalers

    Names of anticholinergic inhalers:

    • Ipratropium (Atrovent): Use up to 4 times a day.
    • Tiotropium (Spiriva): Use 1 puff every day.

    Use your anticholinergic inhalers every day, even if you do not have symptoms.

    Side effects might include:

    • Mild cough
    • Dry mouth

    These medicines may make glaucoma worse. Ask your doctor about using them if you have glaucoma.

    Beta-agonist Inhalers

    Names of beta-agonist inhalers:

    • Salmeterol (Serevent): Use 2 times a day.
    • Formoterol (Foradil): Use once a day.

    Do NOT use a spacer with beta-agonist inhalers.

    These drugs help keep your COPD symptoms away by helping to relax the muscles of your airways. Use your beta-agonist inhaler drugs every day, even if you do not have symptoms. You may use beta-agonists if you also use inhaled steroids or an anticholinergic inhaler.

    Inhaled Corticosteroids

    Names of some inhaled corticosteroids:

    • Beclomethasone (Qvar)
    • Fluitcasone (Flovent)
    • Ciclesonide (Alvesco)
    • Flunisolide (Aerobid)
    • Mometasone (Asmanex)
    • Triamcinolone (Azmacort)
    • Budesonide (Pulmincort)

    Budesonide (Pulmicort) is an inhaled corticosteroid that can also be used in a "nebulizer "instead of an inhaler. A nebulizer is a device that delivers liquid medicine to your airways in a fine mist.

    Corticosteroids help keep your airways from swelling up. Use them every day, even if you do not have symptoms. Use corticosteroids with your inhaler and spacer.

    Rinse out your mouth with water, gargle, and spit out after you use these drugs.


    Niewoehner DE. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed.Philadelphia,PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 88.

    Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, Weinberger SE, et al. Diagnosis and management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A clinical practice guideline update from the American College of Physicians, American Collegeo f Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:179-191.


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        Review Date: 5/29/2012

        Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc

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