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Fall 2011
Volume 7, Issue 2
Health Chronicle
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Understanding Maintenance Medications
People with COPD often need more than one type of
medication to control their symptoms and feel their
best. A quick-relief medication reduces temporary
breathing problems right away. It might be all you
need if you have mild COPD.
But if your COPD is moderate or severe, you may
need a maintenance or controller medication too.
This type of medication works for several hours after
you take it. It helps keep your airways open all the
time. This means you will have breathing problems
less often. Maintenance medication must be taken
every day, even on days when you feel fne.
Bronchodilators are a common type of maintenance
medication. These medications help the airways
open wider. This makes it easier for air to pass
through. There are three types of bronchodilators
that control day-to-day symptoms. They last
anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. Some are inhaled.
Some are taken in tablet or liquid form.
Inhaled Corticosteroids
Another common maintenance medication is inhaled
corticosteroids. This type of medication reduces
swelling in the airways. It is usually taken twice a
day. Just a note, it may take several days or weeks
before the medication helps you feel better.
Combined Maintenance Medications
Some combination medications are available for COPD.
These combine two types of medication in a single
inhaler. For example, one might be a bronchodilator
plus a corticosteroid. That can make it more convenient
to take all your medication. However, combination
medications aren’t the right ft for everyone.
Mind Your Medications
To keep your symptoms under control, take your
medications exactly the way your doctor prescribes
them. Follow your schedule. Get reflls on time. And
be sure you know how to use your inhaler correctly so
the medication reaches your lungs. If you’re not sure,
ask your doctor.
Download a
FREE COPD Action Plan.
Log in at
and select the
My Health & Wellness
tab. Click
Disease Management,
then choose
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.