Asthma and COPD Medications

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are common respiratory diseases that cause inflammation in the airways. There are different medications that treat these conditions, which we are going to list in this article.

What are Asthma and COPD?

Both asthma and COPD have similar symptoms, affecting the function of the lungs and airways. It has been estimated that approximately 20% of patients with an obstructive lung disease will have a combination of these symptoms.


Asthma is a chronic condition that is typically characterised by environmental triggers causing the lungs to inflame and the trachea to tighten, as well as a buildup of excess mucus. This results in symptoms such as breathlessness, chest tightness, and a persistent aggressive cough and wheeze.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung conditions including:

  • Emphysema

  • Chronic bronchitis

  • Chronic asthma

The condition causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs (sometimes called bronchi or airways) and this makes it difficult to breathe. While COPD is currently incurable, it can be managed effectively with the right treatment.

What kinds of medications treat Asthma and COPD?

The National Asthma Council of Australia lists the following medications for asthma and COPD on their website. These medications are inhaled using peripherals such as:

  • Inhalers

  • Turbuhalers

  • Accuhalers, etc.

SABA Relievers

Short acting beta-agonists (SABA) a.k.a. bronchodilators are a class of prescription medications that are used to quickly relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

Examples include salbutamol and terbutaline.

ICS Preventers

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are a type of steroid that is inhaled to reduce the inflammation and sensitivity of the airways, which prevents the likelihood of further symptoms.

Examples include fluticasone propionate, beclometasone, budesonide, ciclesonide and fluticasone furoate.

SAMA Medication

Short acting muscarinic antagonists (SAMA) work similarly to SABA, in that they are used to provide short term relief of symptoms. While SABA targets the beta-2 receptor in the airways, SAMA targets the muscarinic receptor.

An example of SAMA medication is ipratropium.

Non Steroidal Preventer

A Non Steroidal Preventer is an orally taken medication that provides treatment for asthma symptoms that doesn’t involve inhalation. It works by blocking substances in the lungs known as leukotrienes that cause narrowing and swelling of airways.

An example of this is Montelukast Sandoz.

LABA Medications

Long acting beta agonists (LABA) are, like their name suggests, versions of SABA that work in the long term as a preventative bronchodilator to relax smooth muscles in the airways, thus preventing asthma and COPD symptoms.

Examples of this include formoterol, salmeterol and indacaterol.

LAMA Medications

Long acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA) are long acting variations on SAMA medication. Examples of these include tiotropium, aclidinium, glycopyrronium and umeclidinium.


Sometimes, in order to achieve a more effective treatment, doctors will prescribe a combination of the above treatments which are inhaled at once through a single peripheral.

Examples of these medications include:

  • LAMA/LABA Combinations

  • tiotropium and olodaterol

  • aclidinium and formoterol

  • indacaterol and glycopyrronium

  • umeclidinium and vilanterol

  • ICS/LAMA/LABA Combinations

  • fluticasone furoate, umeclidinium and vilanterol

  • indacaterol, glycopyrronium and mometasone

  • beclometasone, formoterol and glycopyrronium

  • ICS/LABA Combinations

  • fluticasone propionate and salmeterol

  • fluticasone propionate and formoterol

  • budesonide and formoterol

  • fluticasone furoate and vilanterol

  • beclometasone and formoterol

  • Indacaterol and mometasone

What else can help treat Asthma and COPD?

In addition to the medications listed above, there are other ways to aid the treatment of asthma and COPD symptoms. These include the following;

Smoking Cessation

Of course, if you suffer from asthma and/or COPD symptoms, those symptoms will be exacerbated considerably by smoking. Not only does smoking cause damage to various parts of the pulmonary system, it also severely hampers the effectiveness of any asthma and COPD medications.


Annual influenza vaccination reduces exacerbations in patients with COPD, with only minor adverse effects. It is also recommended for patients with asthma. This includes pneumococcal vaccination as well as inactive influenza vaccine.

Improved Inhaler Technique

Poor inhaler technique is a common problem associated with worse prognosis in asthma and COPD. With the different kinds of inhalers now available, it is important to make sure that one is using their inhaler correctly.

Written Action Plan

Guidelines recommend a written action plan as a component of self-management in COPD and asthma. The plan should include the patient’s usual treatment and instructions on how to respond to deterioration.

Such a plan informs both the patient as to the most effective way to implement their treatment, as well as any medical professionals that need to tend to the patient, as it makes them aware of the patient’s needs.

Where do I go if I need treatment/diagnosis for Asthma and COPD?

At Manse Medical, we provide both high quality diagnosis and treatment for respiratory disorders. Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choose from the list of our available specialists.

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