COPD Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medications to control the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most people with COPD take medication every day to help shortness of breath. In addition, some medication is used only when needed basis to decrease shortness of breath. For many, a combination of medication is prescribed.

The important thing to remember is that there is no "best" drug regimen.  Your medication is individualized based on your symptoms and needs. Monitoring your COPD and working with your healthcare provider on an on-going basis is the best way to ensure that your medications are right for you.

Here are the types of medications generally prescribed for people with COPD:

Learn about possible interactions and complications of lung disease medications.

Learn how to manage your medications.


Signs the Medication is Helping

How can you work with your healthcare provider to see if your medication is helping? The medication you are taking for COPD doesn't totally take away the shortness of breath you often feel, but you should feel better. There are changes to watch for. Changes you may notice when the medication is helping include:

  • You can do the same activities earlier and with less shortness of breath.
  • You are able to walk more and be more active.
  • You can do more chores and activities around the house.
  • You don't tire as easily.
  • You feel less short of breath.

Watch for these changes as your medications are adjusted. When you visit with your healthcare provider, discuss any changes with him or her.


This information has been approved by Russ Bowler, MD, PhD (June, 2009).

Related COPD Information

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This program offers comprehensive, individualized care for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  

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