Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) covers a multitude of progressive diseases involving the lungs. Among the most common are irreversible asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is incurable; however, in many instances it can be managed with treatment. Once your doctor has diagnosed your COPD, a suitable treatment plan including COPD medication will be created for you to follow.

Different types of medications are used in the treatment of COPD. Your doctor will work with you to find the most effective treatment for your particular situation. Your disease may require more than one COPD medication. In some cases, particular medicines will be ongoing while others will be used as needed. Your doctor will explain what symptoms each one addresses. Below are some of the possible COPD medications your doctor may prescribe.

First Line COPD Medication

Bronchodilators are used to open swollen airways. They are administered through inhalers or nebulizers. Among the most popular of the short-acting bronchodilators are:

  • Albuterol
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA)
  • Atrovent (ipratropium)
  • Combivent (albuterol/ipratropium)

When inhaled these bronchodilators work to relax airway muscles. When you experience coughing spells or shortness of breath, the short-acting or rescue inhalers help relieve the discomfort. Doctors often recommend these to be used before activities that usually bring on symptoms. Long-acting bronchodilators are used on a daily basis to help keep symptoms from occurring.

Inhaled Steroids

Another type of inhaler is the corticosteroid. Exacerbations are prevented with medications such as Flovent HFA, Flonase and others that contain fluticasone. Another type of inhaled steroid contains budesonide. Pulimicort Flexhaler and Uceris are examples. Side effects of these medications can include headache, sore throat, mouth infections and colds. Some users may experience allergic reactions. It is important to contact your doctor if you notice side effects.

Oral Steroids

Prednisolone is another steroid that is sometimes administered as an emergency treatment. This COPD medication can be delivered through injection or as a regime of pills or liquid. Many people experience certain side effects with this drug including muscle weakness, upset stomach, puffiness or weight gain. This method of treatment is generally reserved for short-term use. When a severe episode needs to be brought under control, oral steroids may be given for several days. Long–term use can lead to serious side effects including those above and more susceptibility to infection, diabetes, osteoporosis and cataracts.


This COPD medication is very cost effective and it could prevent episodes from happening. It may also improve breathing. It is usually prescribed in low doses since the side effects are dose related. Accelerated heartbeat, tremors, nausea and headaches are associated with Theophylline.

Being diagnosed with COPD does not necessarily mean the end of life as you know it. It does mean that you will need to take care of yourself and follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your COPD medication. Learning to live with lung problems will take a little time and perhaps a change in your routine. COPD medications will help you live with the problem much easier.