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How effective are bronchodilators for the treatment of COPD?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Bronchodilators can provide fast relief of symptoms for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the effects wear off after a few hours. These drugs do not stop the disease from getting worse. People with an FEV1 less than 60% of predicted value tend to benefit the most from bronchodilators.

A combination of different types of bronchodilators is often more effective than using one alone. Combining a short-acting beta agonist and an anticholinergic can improve symptoms and lung function more than either drug alone. Adding theophylline to a beta agonist or anticholinergic may also improve lung function.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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