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Treating COPD Effectively

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7 Things to Know About Combination Therapies for COPD

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Larson on February 21, 2021
  • Patient with doctor
    What You Need to Know About Combination Therapies for COPD
    If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, you’re all too familiar with the most common symptoms: the coughing, the wheezing, the breathlessness. There’s no cure for COPD, so you must take medication to manage your symptoms and reduce exacerbations that might land you in the hospital. Some people with COPD find new combination inhalers that blend a few different medications together help them manage their COPD much better. But it’s important to learn as much as you can about combination therapy before you give it a try.
  • senior woman typing on laptop
    1. You have options.
    People with COPD can choose between a number of different types of dual- or triple-therapy agents—that is, combinations of two or three unique drugs. Different drugs for COPD work in different ways, and combining two or three of them in one inhaler can be extremely effective. For example, a medication called albuterol opens up the air passages in the lungs, while another, called ipratropium bromide, relaxes the muscles around the airways. Combined together in one inhaler, they work well to keep COPD symptoms at bay.
  • man-hiking-up-hill
    2. Not everyone needs combination therapy.
    Some people can really benefit from combination therapy for COPD. But others can control their COPD symptoms and flare-ups without needing to use a combination therapy approach. They may have only mild COPD, or they may not have any trouble juggling a list of medications that they need to take at various times during the day.
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  • Older African American woman drinking a glass of water and looking toward window
    3. Long-term adherence is key.
    People with COPD need to take their meds—and they need to faithfully stick to their treatment regimen. A combination inhaler for COPD may be just the ticket because it combines a few of their medications into one, reducing the number of medications they have to remember to take. Simplifying their routine can improve their adherence to therapy over the long run.
  • woman sitting at kitchen table in front of laptop using inhaler
    4. Combination therapy makes it hard to forget.
    If you have to take several medications, have you ever slipped up and forgotten to take one of them? A combination inhaler for COPD eliminates the possibility that you’ll take one COPD med and forget the other. When you use the inhaler, you’re getting the correct dose of two medications at once.
  • portrait of african american senior in wheelchair admiring sights in park
    5. You only have to take some meds once per day.
    If you’ve been dreaming of ways to simplify your life even more, consider this: a COPD medication that you only take once per day is now available. These therapies are designed to be effective for 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule that requires you to take multiple medications for your COPD every day. This can be especially useful for people who have other chronic conditions for which they must take other medications on a daily basis. 
  • smiling middle aged woman against gray background
    6. Combination therapy can reduce flare-ups.
    Flare-ups can be scary for people with COPD. Your shortness of breath may suddenly worsen, while you begin coughing and wheezing more than usual, too. You might become confused or very exhausted, and you might even run a fever. Serious exacerbations can warrant a trip to the hospital. But research shows that combination therapy tends to reduce the incidence of COPD flare-ups.
  • female-patient-talking-with-male-doctor
    7. It’s crucial to be honest with your doctor.
    It’s important to only take these combination therapies as prescribed by your healthcare provider. You don’t want to use them without consulting your provider first and getting all the details. Let them know if you’re experiencing any side effects that you can’t tolerate, or if the medication isn’t working as effectively as it should be.
Combination Inhalers for COPD | Combination Medications for COPD

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Combination Agents for COPD. Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Donohue JF. Combination Therapy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. American Thoracic Society Journals. 2: 4; Nov 01, 2005.
  3. Gross N. Combination Therapies for COPD. Medscape.
  4. Mosenifar Z. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Medscape.
  5. Nannini L, et al. Combination therapy of inhaled steroids and long-acting beta2-agonists compared to inhaled steroids alone for people with COPD. Cochrane.
  6. Trelegy Ellipta. COPD News Today.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.