Skip navigation

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - control drugs

COPD - control drugs

Description

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

These medicines are not used to treat flare-ups. Flare-ups are treated with quick-relief (rescue) drugs.

Depending on the medicine, control drugs help you breathe easier by:

  • Relaxing the muscles in your airways
  • Reducing any swelling in your airways
  • Helping the lungs work better

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 OK.

Ask your doctor about the side effects of any medicines you are prescribed. Be sure you know which side effects are serious enough that you need to call your doctor right away.

Make sure you get your medicine refilled before you run out.

Anticholinergic inhalers

Anticholinergic inhalers include:

  • Aclidinium (Tudorza Pressair)
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent)
  • Tiotropium (Spiriva)

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

Beta-agonist inhalers

Beta-agonist inhalers include:

  • Arformoterol (Brovana)
  • Formoterol (Foradil)
  • Salmeterol (Serevent)

Do not use a spacer with beta-agonist inhalers.

Inhaled corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids include:

  • Beclomethasone (Qvar)
  • Fluitcasone (Flovent)
  • Ciclesonide (Alvesco)
  • Mometasone (Asmanex)
  • Budesonide (Pulmincort)

After you use these drugs, rinse your mouth with water, gargle, and spit.

Combination inhaled medicines

Combination medicines combine two drugs and are inhaled. They include:

  • Budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort)
  • Fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair)
  • Fluticasone and vilanterol (Breo Ellipta)
  • Ipratropium and albuterol (Combivent Respimat)

Phosphodiesterase inhibitor

Roflumilast (Daliresp) is a tablet that is swallowed.

References

Anderson B, Conner Anderson B, Conner K, Dunn C, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). https://www.icsi.org/_asset/yw83gh/COPD.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2014.

Balkissoon R, Lommatzsch S, Carolan B, Make B. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a concise review. Med Clin N Am. 2011;95:1125-1141.

Update Date: 4/26/2014

Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo