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What should I know before taking anticholinergic bronchodilators?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

A long-acting inhaled anticholinergic is one of the preferred treatments for people with few, mild day-to-day symptoms but a high risk of flare-ups. Some people may need to add a long-acting beta-agonist or roflumilast.

A long-acting inhaled anticholinergic is also one of the preferred treatments for people with severe or many day-to-day symptoms and a high risk of flare-ups. Some people may need to add a long-acting beta-agonist with or without an inhaled corticosteroid, or add roflumilast.

A short-acting inhaled anticholinergic is one of the preferred treatments for people with few, mild day-to-day symptoms and a low risk of flare-ups. Some people may need to add a short-acting beta-agonist.

A long-acting inhaled anticholinergic is one of the preferred treatments for people with severe or many day-to-day symptoms but a low risk of flare-ups. Some people may need to add a long-acting beta-agonist.

It is not known if inhaled anticholinergic bronchodilators are safe or effective for children of all ages.

If you have a severe allergy to milk, aclidinium may not be a good option for you.

If you have BPH (an enlarged prostate), an anticholinergic bronchodilator may not be a good option for you.

If you have cardiovascular disease, aclidinium may not be a good option for you.

If you have narrow-angle glaucoma, an anticholinergic bronchodilator may not be a good option for you.

If you have impaired kidney function, ipratropium and tiotropium may not be good options for you. If impairment is severe, glycopyrrolate may not be a good option for you.

If you have impaired liver function, ipratropium may not be a good option for you.

If you have myasthenia gravis, aclidinium may not be a good option for you.

If you have urinary retention (inability to urinate), an anticholinergic bronchodilator may not be a good option for you.

If you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, anticholinergic bronchodilators may not be good options for you. It is not known if they are safe for pregnant women. Similarly, it is not known if these drugs can be passed into breast milk, so if you are breastfeeding, these drugs may not be a good choice for you.

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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.