COPD Lexicon: More Pharmacology Terms To Know

In a previous post I defined “Basic Pharmacological Terms To Know.” In this post, I’d like to define some more pharmacological terms to know. These are terms relating to medicines that are often considered second-line COPD medicines.


These are medicines that thin secretions. They help loosen secretions so it’s easier to cough them up. An example here includes Mucomyst. Some say it smells like rotten eggs, but it works great. There are various other medicines that also apply here.


These are narcotic medicines. They help reduce pain. They also are considered mild bronchodilators. They also create a feeling of euphoria. They are sometimes prescribed for Severe COPD. They help reduce the feeling of shortness of breath. A good example is Morphine. They are also highly addictive, so make sure you use exactly as instructed by your physician.


These are medicines that reduce anxiety. Anxiety is very common with COPD. So, it’s not uncommon to be prescribed something to help you relax. A good example is Xanax.


These are medicines that improve mood. This is not my specialty, so I will refrain from giving examples here.

Nicotine Replacements

These are medicines used to help you quit smoking. They basically contain small amounts of nicotine. They allow you to continue receiving nicotine, the addictive component of cigarettes. Nicotine will then be gradually decreased over time. This sometimes makes it easier to quit. They come in various forms, such as gums, inhalers, and patches.

Anti-nicotine medicine

I’m not sure of the official term for this line of medicine is. But it contains medicines like Chantix and Wellbutrin. These are medicines to help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms from quitting nicotine. The medicine is attracted to and binds with nicotine receptors in your brain. It prevents nicotine from making you want to smoke.


A scientific term meaning “living things.” They are often used in reference to bacteria.


These are medicines that kill biotics. They kill bacteria. They are only used if you have a bacterial infection. Pneumonia is a common infection usually caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are a common treatment for bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. However, bacterial infections often follow virus infections. So, since pneumonia is a common cause of flare-ups, antibiotics may be prescribed anytime you have a cold just to be on the safe side.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Many people with lung diseases also have stomach trouble. Researchers aren’t sure if this is a result of COPD or the medicines used to treat them. Gastrointestinal reflux is a common co-morbidity with COPD and asthma. So, to reduce stomach acid and prevent heartburn, many people with COPD also have to take stomach acid reducers like Omeprazole (Prilosec). There are also many generic versions here, so you may be prescribed one of these.


This is an old COPD and asthma medicine. It was a top-line medicine during the 1970s and 80s. It’s a very effective bronchodilator. It’s been phased out due to better and safer medicine. But, researchers think it may also prove useful as an anti-inflammatory medicine. So, it remains a second-line option for treating COPD.

What to make of this?

These are some of the medicines used to treat COPD or other conditions that often go with COPD, like GERD and anxiety. These are some options your doctor has handy to help you live better and longer with COPD.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


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