Possible drug treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include bronchodilators, inhaled steroids and combination inhalers, according to Mayo Clinic. Other drugs commonly prescribed include phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors and theophylline.
Bronchodilators are commonly used inhaled medications that doctors use to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as Mayo Clinic explains. These medications work by relaxing the muscles around the airways, which can help to relieve shortness of breath and coughing. Some bronchodilators are short-acting and used before activities, but others are long-acting and used each day. Examples of bronchodilators include albuterol, formoterol and indacaterol.
Inhaled steroids are also an option for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to Mayo Clinic. These corticosteroid medications help to prevent exacerbations and reduce inflamed airways. Patients may experience side effects when using these medications, including oral infections, bruising and hoarseness. Examples of inhaled steroid brands include Flovent and Pulmicort. Doctors sometimes prescribe combination inhaled medications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that combine bronchodilators and inhaled steroids in one medication.
Doctors also prescribe phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but they typically reserve it for severe cases of the condition, reports Mayo Clinic. These drugs relax the airways and help decrease inflammation. Daliresp is an example of an phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, and its potential side effects include weight loss and diarrhea.