Those of you who have been suffering from COPD for some
time have seen your recommended treatment change over the
years. Now, as a senior physician, I remember the days when
very little effective medication was available in inhaled form. IPPB
devices were common place and a real rational approach to the
medical treatment of COPD had to wait for decades until research
and the pharmaceutical industry provided a more rational
approach to daily treatment.
Today, most of the medications used to treat COPD are
inhaled using a device that can easily fit into your pocket or
purse. In fact, there has been an explosion of drugs and devices
over the last 10-15 years. Along with these medications has
come a new understanding about what we are trying to do for our
COPD patients and how we select the medications we use.
Initially, bronchodilators called LABAs were used alone.
These were long- acting medications designed to dilate the
airways. Later, steroids were added to these inhalers when it was
found that this combination could reduce the flare-ups, called
exacerbations, which plague the COPD patient. Finally, a
category of mediations called LAMAs were added to the mix and
these added another layer of protection for our COPD patients.
Today, for the moderate to severely affected patients all
three of these medications are being used. Each component has
its own risk and benefit and understanding how they benefit the
patient and how they should be used is the job of your doctor.