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List of Common COPD Medications

For COPD Patients and Their Caregivers


Updated May 27, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you are a COPD patient, or a caregiver to someone who has COPD, learning all you can about common COPD medications is essential to COPD management. Here is a list of common COPD medications that you will likely see prescribed to the COPD patient:

1. Bronchodilators

Patients who have COPD are often prescribed medications called bronchodilators. Bronchodilators work by relaxing and expanding the smooth muscle of the airways, making it easier to breath. Three types of bronchodilators are commonly used for treatment of COPD. Which bronchodilator will work best for you?

2. Glucocorticoids

If you have COPD, your doctor may have prescribed glucocorticoids, or steroids, as part of your COPD treatment plan. While glucocorticoids have many benefits, they also have serious risks and side effects. Are you aware of the risks and benefits associated with the use of glucocorticoids?

3. Phosphodiesterase-4 Inhibitors

It is becoming increasingly evident that inflammation plays a major role in COPD and many other chronic illnesses. Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) inhibitors block the action of PDE4, an enzyme that is overproduced in COPD and asthma causing inflammation in the lungs. Discover more about this class of COPD medication.

4. Antibiotics

People with COPD are more prone to bacterial lung infections than most. And, if you have a bacterial lung infection, then chances are your doctor will have prescribed you an antibiotic. Learn more about antibiotic therapy and how your doctor tells the difference between a simple virus and a bacterial lung infection.

5. Supplemental Oxygen

Has your doctor recently prescribed supplemental oxygen as part of your COPD treatment plan? If so, you may be wondering why you need it, and more importantly, how you should use it. Learn the benefits of oxygen therapy if you have COPD and how to use your oxygen safely.

6. Influenza Vaccines

Influenza, or flu vaccines not only help prevent the flu, they can help COPD patients fight off potential exacerbations of symptoms, which are periods of time when your COPD may worsen. Learn how flu shots can help prevent COPD exacerbations.

7. Pneumonia Vaccines

People with COPD are at greater risk for developing pneumococcal pneumonia, a serious lung infection that kills 1 out of every 20 people who get it. And, even if you have already had a pneumonia vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that certain high-risk groups have a second dose. Are you among the high-risk group?


The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Updated 2011.

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