How Is COPD Treated?

There is no cure for COPD. However, there are some actions you can take to help manage your symptoms.

If you smoke, quitting is the first step recommended by doctors to treat COPD and slow its progression. Exercising regularly is also important. Staying active can help improve your breathing and ease your symptoms. There are other lifestyle changes you can make to lessen symptoms. These include maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding symptom triggers (ie, smoke or dust). You can also drink a lot of fluids to loosen mucus.

Considering a medication
Once diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe medications for your COPD. There are a variety of medicines available that can help make it easier for you to breathe and help manage your symptoms. Some of the medicines are oral pills or tablets and some are inhaled. Inhaled medicines that quickly relieve symptoms are called "rescue inhalers." Since COPD is a condition that doesn't go away, your doctor may also prescribe a "maintenance inhaler," which is used every day to help keep your airways open.

Understanding the difference: Rescue and maintenance inhalers
Even when taking a maintenance medication, you will also need to continue to use your rescue medicine. It is important to know the fundamental differences between the two. Below is a simple chart that outlines some of those differences.

Rescue Inhalers
Maintenance Inhalers
When To Use
Used on an as-needed basis when you feel it’s very difficult to breathe
Taken every day, even if you’re feeling better
What They Do
Quickly relieve the symptoms of COPD by relaxing the muscles that tighten the airways
Control the symptoms of COPD by keeping the airways open over a longer period of time

May reduce the need for rescue inhalers, but don’t replace them
Usually work within 5 minutes and wear off rapidly, with relief lasting only 4 to 6 hours
May take up to 30 minutes to work, and effects last 12 to 24 hours; they are not intended for rescue use

Remember to always take your medicine as directed by your doctor.

For more detail on lifestyle changes that can help you manage COPD,
visit our Lifestyle Tips section   


TUDORZA PRESSAIR is a prescription medicine used long term, 2 times each day to treat symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

TUDORZA is not a rescue medicine and should not be used for treating sudden breathing problems. Your doctor may give you other medicine to use for sudden breathing problems.


What important information should I know about TUDORZA?

TUDORZA is not a rescue medication and does not relieve sudden breathing problems. Always have a rescue inhaler medicine with you to treat sudden symptoms.

What should I tell my doctor before using TUDORZA?

Before you use TUDORZA, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you have eye problems (especially glaucoma), prostate or bladder problems, or problems passing urine. TUDORZA may make these problems worse. You should also let your doctor know if you have a severe allergy to milk proteins.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines and eyedrops. Especially tell your doctor if you take anticholinergics (including tiotropium, ipratropium) and atropine.

Do not use TUDORZA more often than prescribed or take more medicine than prescribed for you.

Seek immediate medical help if your breathing problems worsen with TUDORZA, you need to use your rescue inhaler more often than usual, or your rescue inhaler does not work as well for you.

What are the possible side effects of TUDORZA?

TUDORZA can cause serious side effects. Stop taking TUDORZA and seek medical help right away if you experience:

  • Sudden shortness of breath immediately after use of TUDORZA
  • New or worsened symptoms of increased pressure in your eyes (acute narrow-angle glaucoma), which may include eye pain, nausea or vomiting, blurred vision, seeing halos or bright colors around lights, or red eyes. Using only eyedrops to treat these symptoms may not work and if not treated, this could lead to permanent loss of vision
  • Symptoms of new or worsened urinary retention (difficult, painful, or frequent urination, or urination in a weak stream or drips)
  • Serious allergic reactions including rash, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; breathing problems; and itching

What are the most common side effects of TUDORZA?

The most common side effects of TUDORZA include headache, common cold symptoms, and cough. These are not all the possible side effects with TUDORZA.

Please also see the full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information.