What types of anti-inflammatory medications treat COPD?

Anti-inflammatory medications that treat COPD can be divided into the categories of inhaled steroids, oral steroids, and inhaled nonsteroids.

Inhaled corticosteroids

What do inhaled steroids do, and how are they supplied?

Inhaled steroids are prescribed to:

  • Prevent and reduce inflammation and swelling of the airways
  • Prevent shortness of breath and wheezing by decreasing the sensitivity of the airways to "irritants" and "allergens"

Inhaled steroid products include:

  • Beclomethasone dipropionate (Beclovent®, Vanceril®) QVAR® )
  • Fluticasione propionate (Flovent®)
  • Flunisolide (AeroBid®, AEROSPAN™ HFA)
  • Budesonide (Pulmicort®)
  • Mometasone (Asmanex®)
  • Ciclesonide (Alvesco®)
  • Fluticasone furoate (Arnuity ® )

Inhaled steroids are available in metered dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers, or nebulized aerosols.

What are the potential side effects of inhaled steroids?

Potential side effects include:

  • Cough
  • Thrush (mouth infection)
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness

How and when are inhaled steroids taken? Are there special instructions?

  • If an inhaled steroid and bronchodilator are both prescribed, take the bronchodilator first.
  • Use inhaled steroids with a "spacer" ( or "holding chamber" if the device fits a spacer).
  • Rinse mouth and gargle with plain water after use to prevent side effects.
  • Do not use for quick relief.
  • These medications will not stop an attack that has already started.
  • Do not stop taking these medicines without talking to your doctor.
Oral steroids

What do oral steroids do, and how are they supplied?

Oral steroids are prescribed to:

  • Prevent and reduce inflammation and swelling of the airways
  • Prevent shortness of breath and wheezing by decreasing the sensitivity of the airways to "irritants" and "allergens"

Oral steroid products include:

  • Methylprednisolone (Medrol®)
  • Prednisolone (Flo-Pred®, Millipred®, Prelone®, Pediapred®, Veripred®)
  • Prednisone (Deltasone®) , Orasone®, Liquid Pred®, Prednisone Intensol®, Rayos®)
  • Hydrocortisone (Cortef®)
  • Dexamethasone

Oral steroids are available as tablets or liquids.

What are the potential side effects of oral steroids?

  • Increased appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin redness, acne
  • Sweating, swelling, or water retention
  • May raise blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Risk for infections with certain bugs

How and when are oral steroids taken? Are there special instructions?

  • Take with food or milk.
  • Do not stop taking these medicines without talking to your doctor.

Note: For all of these medicines, the side effects listed are the most common. Always contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about your personal situation.

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