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.
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.
COPD - control drugs
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 include:
- Arformoterol (Brovana)
- Formoterol (Foradil)
- Salmeterol (Serevent)
Do not use a spacer with beta-agonist inhalers.
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)
Roflumilast (Daliresp) is a tablet that is swallowed.
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). Available at: 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;95:1125-41. PMID: 22032431 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22032431.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - adults - discharge
- COPD - what to ask your doctor
- Eating extra calories when sick - adults
- How to breathe when you are short of breath
- How to use a nebulizer
- How to use an inhaler - no spacer
- How to use an inhaler - with spacer
- How to use your peak flow meter
- Oxygen safety
- Traveling with breathing problems
- Using oxygen at home
- Using oxygen at home - what to ask your doctor
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.