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Medication for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

NYU Langone pulmonologists, or lung specialists, may prescribe medication to help manage the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and prevent them from worsening. Doctors usually recommend inhaled bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, which reduce shortness of breath, control coughing, and prevent sudden flare-ups.


Bronchodilators relax the muscles surrounding the airways. The inhaled form of these medications can be short-acting, meaning they offer rapid “rescue” relief for symptoms, or long-acting, meaning they are taken once or twice daily for maintenance treatment. Side effects may include a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and jitteriness.

Inhaled Corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids help decrease or prevent airway inflammation over the long term. They are taken daily and are often combined with a bronchodilator. These medications are often used indefinitely.

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