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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

List of Medications for COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a set of diseases that affect a person’s lungs. These diseases gradually worsen over time, consequently making breathing more and more difficult.

COPD rarely affects those below 40 years of age. Those who are in the habit of smoking cigarettes are usually at a higher risk of developing this disorder later on in life. Two of its most common types are chronic bronchitis and Emphysema, both of which severely restrict proper flow of air in the lungs.

Currently, this disease is not treatable. Patients may develop copd complications like lung cancer, diabetes, heart failure, among others. There are many medications prescribed to its patients to slow down the progress of this disease and help manage its symptoms.

What Is the Best Medicine for COPD?

copd treatment

A persoan choosing medicines, Credit: Pixabay

As mentioned before, COPD refers to two major respiratory disorders of the lungs,i.e., Chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is not the same as asthma, although both cause swelling in the airways. The nature of the inflammation is the major difference between COPD and asthma. COPD occurs when the air sacs in the lungs are damaged. It inflames and swells the air tubes to the lungs. But, asthma occurs when this swelling results from an allergic reaction, not the damage to the lungs’ air sacs. Consequently, there are differences between the medications of both these respiratory disorders, although some might be the same.

The most common treatment line used to relieve the symptoms of shortness of breath is a type of inhaler called bronchodilators. They come in two types, namely, short-acting and long-acting. Short-acting ones should be taken when you want quick relief. They open the airways immediately. The long-acting ones are there to prevent the daily occurrence of breathlessness that you feel. It is advised to take them on a daily basis.

COPD Medications Chart

Symptoms of COPD like difficulty in breathing, frequent coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness can be managed by the following list of medications. However, keep in mind that COPD causes an irreversible damage to the lungs and airways in your respiratory system. Medications can only help you manage the symptoms by opening your airways.

Common COPD medicines include the following:

  1. Bronchodilators

  2. Corticosteroids

  3. Oral steroids

  4. Methylxanthines

  5. Antibiotics

1.   Bronchodilators


Woman using bronchodilator, Credit: Pixabay

As mentioned before, these come in two types. The short-acting bronchodilators, by opening the airways makes it easier to breathe. You can take them during emergencies using an inhaler. Their examples are albuterol, levalbuterol, ipratropium, among others.

To manage COPD over a long period of time, long-acting bronchodilators are used. You need to take them once or twice every day. Some of their examples include aclidinium, arformoterol, formoterol, indacaterol, among others. These can cause side-effects like mouth dryness, dizziness, and a watery nose.

2.   Corticosteroids

copd treatment drugs

Pills of Corticosteroids, Credit: Pixabay

Corticosteroids minimizes the inflammation of the airways. They are of various types and are used alongwith long-acting medications. And,  They are administered orally or injected. They come in handy when sudden COPD attack strikes you. Common corsticosteroids for COPD are fluticasone, budesonide, prednisolone.

3.   Oral Steroids

what is the best medicine for COPD

A picture of oral steroids, Credit: Pixabay

Periods of severe COPD attacks that last for more than one day can be managed with oral steroids. Oral corticosteroids minimizes the exacerbation of COPD. but they have some side-effects like weight gain, osteoporosis, cataract, and vulnerabilities to infections.

4.   Methylxanthines

methylxanthines drugs

Chemical structure of theophylline, Credit: Pixabay

These are used for people whose COPD had progressed into severe stages. A drug known as theophylline in combination with a bronchodilator is used for these patients. It helps the muscles of the airways to relax and reduces their inflammation. It can be taken as a pill or in a liquid form.

5.   Antibiotics

copd drugs

An antibiotic drug, Credit: Pixabay

Antibiotics help a lot in reducing COPD from worsening further. Infections like pneumonia and influenza can make COPD worse. Antibiotics like azithromycin can prevent COPD from reaching severe stages.

The above-mentioned list of medications can provide relief to COPD patients to a considerable degree. The medications should be supplemented by healthy lifestyle habits to slow down the progression of COPD.

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