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Understanding COPD Medications

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. It can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

There are different medications your doctor may prescribe.

Bronchodilators relax the muscles around your airways to open them and make breathing easier. Depending on the severity of your COPD, your doctor may prescribe short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators.

Most bronchodilators are taken using a device called an inhaler. This device allows the medicine to go straight to your lungs.

If your COPD is more severe, or if your symptoms flare up often, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator and an inhaled steroid. Steroids help reduce airway inflammation. Your doctor may ask you to try inhaled steroids with the bronchodilator for a trial period of six weeks to three months to see whether the addition of the steroid helps relieve your breathing problems.

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute For additional articles on this topic, visit


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