Examples of COPD medications include bronchodilators, such as albuterol, and steroids, such as fluticasone, according to Mayo Clinic. Other medications include combination inhalers and phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, such as roflumilast.
Bronchodilators, which typically come in an inhaler form, relax the muscles near the airways, explains Mayo Clinic. When these muscles relax, it helps to relieve coughing, makes breathing easier and helps stop shortness of breath. There are short-acting bronchodilators, such as levalbuterol and ipratropium, and long-acting bronchodilators, such as salmeterol, formoterol and indacaterol.
People with COPD may also treat the condition with corticosteroid medications, states Mayo Clinic. These medications help to reduce inflammation in the airway. Corticosteroid medications have side effects, however, including oral infections, bruising and hoarseness. Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors are another common medication for those with COPD and is relatively new, as of 2015. Side effects include weight loss and diarrhea.
Combination inhalers are another example of medications for COPD, claims Mayo Clinic. These medications contain both steroids and bronchodilators in them. For example, the combination inhaler Advair contains fluticasone and salmeterol. Oral steroids may also work for COPD, but they are best for those who have moderate or severe exacerbation with the condition. These medications may also cause serious side effects, such as diabetes, weight gain, cataracts, osteoporosis and an increased risk for infection.