Dos and Don'ts for Taking COPD Medications

Last updated: May 2018

When you have COPD, medications are often an important part of your treatment plan. Some medications work to control or lessen symptoms, while others are aimed more at comfort. But it's important to note that medications only work when you take them as prescribed. It's also essential that the medications work well together. When you have a chronic illness, you might be seeing more than one doctor, and without coordination, they could be prescribing medicines that don't "play" well with each other.

Taking your medications the right way will help your health stay stable and will also help you avoid doctor visits or trips to the hospital. I've put together a few tips to help you get the most out of your medications and to use them safely.

Dos for Taking COPD Medications

  • Do learn the names of each of your medications and what they are for.
  • Do know when to take your meds and how many to take each time, and then take them exactly as prescribed.
  • Do store your medications in a cool, dry place, unless otherwise instructed. (Some meds need to be refrigerated.)
  • Do check expiration dates and discard drug that have expired.
  • Do learn the most common side effects to watch out for with each medicine.
  • Dokeep in touch with your doctor about how well your medicine is working and if you notice any side effects.
  • Do keep a written list of your medications and bring it with you to every doctor's visit. Review this list anytime a new drug is prescribed.
  • Do make sure all your doctors know what you are taking, even if they didn't prescribe it.
  • Do use a medication reminder system if you have trouble keeping on schedule with your medicines. You can even set alarms on your clock or telephone to help you stay on track.
  • Do use the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions to help with coordination and record-keeping.
  • Do ask the pharmacist for large print labels or for non-childproof caps, if you need them.

Don'ts for Taking COPD Medications

  • Don't take over the counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, herbs or health supplements without checking with your doctor or pharmacist first. Sometimes even the safest of those can interfere with your prescription medications.
  • Don't experiment with your medications, taking more or less than is prescribed by your doctor.
  • Don't ever stop taking a medication without talking with your doctor first, even if you're having side effects. There can be harmful results with some medications if they are stopped abruptly.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist questions about your medications.
    Don't let your prescriptions run out! Be sure to arrange for refills before your bottle or other container is empty.
  • Don't ever share your medication with anyone else; also, don't take someone else's medication.
  • Don't crush, break or chew medications without first checking with your pharmacist if it is okay.

In Summary

Medications are foreign substances that you are putting into your body. it's important not to take this lightly. When you use them properly, your health can benefit. But if you misuse or abuse medications, there may be negative effects on your health. So, be a smart, informed and careful consumer. It's the best way to advocate for your own health!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Does your COPD make running errands more difficult?