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COPD Medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments

9 Feb 2017
| Under COPD, Disease Education, Lung Disease, Medical | Posted by | 4 Comments
COPD Medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments

There are a lot of COPD medications out there. We’re here to help you find the right one for you.

When it comes to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases, there’s a long list of COPD medications out there. The problem is determining whether these medications are ultimately helpful. In the realm of inhalers, there are a variety of different active medications, all with differing effects. In some cases, these inhalers might have a single medication within them (monotherapy) while others are known to contain two (combination therapy). These inhalers can be separated into three distinct categories: short-acting, long-acting and inhaled steroids. Unfortunately, due to the specificity of these inhalers, these medications are often used incorrectly. Although there are natural and alternative treatments available that address disease progression directly, inhalers can be a useful tool for battling the symptoms of COPD throughout the day. There are a lot of medications out there, and for those with COPD, you may already be familiar with a few.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to breakdown COPD medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments and give you some insight into inhalers, how they work and if they’re right for you.

COPD Medications: Inhalers, Their Types and What They Do

COPD Medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments

As we mentioned earlier, there are three types of inhalers: short-acting bronchodilators, long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled steroids. Bronchodilators work to open airways and increase air flow while inhaled steroids (otherwise known as corticosteroids) help reduce inflammation within the airways.

Short-Acting Bronchodilators are generally used in emergency situations, meaning that in instances when you feel particularly breathless—or right before you expect to—these inhalers are designed to act quickly and wear off just as fast. Working to help air to be exhaled more effectively and decrease the amount of air trapped in the lungs, these inhalers can lessen the sensation of shortness of breath. These inhalers work quickly (taking 5-20 minutes to kick in) and last for up to 6 hours after taking effect.

Long-Acting Bronchodilators are used for general maintenance of COPD. These inhalers are used regardless of emergency or symptom status and are typically taken twice a day, once every twelve hours. It’s best to consider these types of inhalers as preventative in nature, and research has shown that the use of these inhalers can lower the risk of COPD exacerbations. These inhalers typically take effect within 15-30 minutes.

Inhaled Steroids are used when patients continue to exhibit symptoms despite the continual use of a long-acting bronchodilator. Inhaled steroids work to decrease inflammation in the airway (inflammation which causes air to become trapped inside the lungs) but may take up to two weeks to take effect. As these steroids are stronger in nature, they are meant to be supplemental to long-acting bronchodilators and should be taken twice a day as prescribed by your doctor. However, it should be noted that they can increase the risk of developing pneumonia.

Among the more well-known options for bronchodilators and inhaled steroids, they include:

  • Advair is used for maintenance treatment of COPD
  • Symbicort is used for the treatment of stable COPD
  • Combivent helps the muscles around your airways to relax and helps the muscles around your airways to relax.
  • Pulmicort used for maintenance treatment of COPD, helps reduce inflammation in the airways, making it easier for you to breathe.
  • Spiriva is used as a maintenance treatment for COPD. It opens and relaxes the airways, making it easier to breathe.
  • Proventil is a rescue inhaler (intended to help immediately with breathing problems). Proventil helps immediately relax the airways, making it easier to breathe.
  • Atrovent is used in maintenance treatment of COPD.
  • Brovana is used for long-term, maintenance treatment in those with COPD to relax the airways and make it easier to breathe.
  • Arcapta Neohaler comes in capsule form and is administered via a dry powder inhaler. Used for once-daily, long-term maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in COPD, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Breo Ellipta is a once-daily, maintenance medication for the treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with COPD, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The Pros and Cons of COPD Inhalers

COPD Medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments

COPD inhalers can be an essential medication for those looking to relieve symptoms of COPD. As these medications work to either open up the airways themselves or to relieve inflammation (sometimes both depending on the inhaler), inhalers can serve as an effective option in addressing feelings of breathlessness in those with COPD.

However, despite the ability to relieve symptoms, inhalers are not without their drawbacks. As medications that only work to address symptoms, these treatment options are inherently unable to affect disease progression. This means that although inhalers can allow you to feel better and breathe easier, they cannot slow the progression of the disease itself.

Other Treatment Options

In the field of treatment for COPD, aside from the traditional medications of inhalers, corticosteroids and supplemental oxygen, changing one’s lifestyle is imperative to improving one’s health. Starting by quitting smoking, addressing one’s diet and making time for aerobic exercise are often key contributors to improving personal health and easing lung disease symptoms. Natural alternatives to traditional medicine may also be influential in addressing symptoms. From natural herbs to stem cell therapy (the body’s natural healing mechanism), alternatives to traditional medication have shown a significant effect on treating.

Moving Forward

There are a lot of COPD medications to choose from, and with so many options, the decision can be difficult. Though COPD can be incredibly challenging to overcome, changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, PF, ILD or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.

Interested in our article on COPD Medications: Inhalers and Other Treatments? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Lung Institute

    3 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Stem cells are used for many different treatments and stem cells can be harvested in different ways. There is no one research regarding stem cells since there are so many different ways they can be used. We have done and are doing clinical trials on our specific therapy. To find the current studies involving the Lung Institute, go to clinicaltrials.gov. In the “Other Terms” box type in either LI-002 or LI-003 and click on “Search all studies,” for the two current studies. You can read about our treatments in our White Paper.

    We also collect patient outcomes data, and 84.5% of patients included in the study report an improvement in their quality of life after receiving treatment from a Lung Institute clinic. Here is another resource you may like to check out.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. claude

    3 months ago

    does anyone have results of a federal approved study for stem cell treatments?

  3. Matt

    1 year ago

    Hello Mary,
    Thank you for your post. There is no age limit for getting stem cell therapy. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. That way one of our patient coordinators can go over everything with you. Thanks again and have a great day.

  4. Mary sladky

    1 year ago

    Want to see all of adult stem cell treatments. Maybe I’m on 70, and might be to old! I’ve had it since 2010, and had a stroke in 2016. I’ve been a quite young 70, but I would find anything might help. Thank you!

* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. The Lung Institute is firmly in accordance with the conditions set by the FDA for exemption status and conducts itself in full accordance with current guidelines. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and stem cell procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.