Inhaled corticosteroids

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) inhibit airway inflammation. Their effects are additive to the effect of bronchodilators and diminish the frequency of COPD exacerbations. ICS are highly effective at controlling asthma but their effects on pulmonary and systemic inflammation in COPD are unclear. Therefore their use in COPD is limited to specific indications.1

Long-term treatment with ICS is recommended for patients with severe and very severe COPD and frequent exacerbations that are not adequately controlled with long-acting bronchodilators.

Combinations of a LABA (salmeterol or formoterol) and an ICS (fluticasone propionate or budesonide) are more effective than either drug alone in the treatment of stable disease. Oral or systemic corticosteroids should usually not be used to treat chronic stable COPD.


  1. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD): Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of COPD. 2013.

Chronic stable disease - non drug therapy

Learn more about non drug therapy for COPDGo

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