Spiriva side effects: How to relieve them?

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Spiriva side effects: How to relieve them?

Question

I use a Spiriva inhaler for COPD. It definitely helps my breathing, but it upsets my stomach and gives me a dry mouth. How can I deal with these Spiriva side effects?

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Answer

Dry mouth is among the most common side effects of tiotropium (Spiriva), an inhaled medication for relaxing and opening damaged airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Upset stomach is less common, but some people do report it. These side effects may bother you less as you get used to the medication.

Here are a few things you might try to keep your stomach settled.

  • Use Spiriva exactly as directed, taking care to breathe out completely before you close your lips over the mouthpiece. Then breathe in slowly and deeply, through your mouth only, until your lungs are filled. If you don't inhale deeply enough, you'll swallow more medication than you take in through your lungs.
  • Rinse your mouth with water right after using your Spiriva inhaler. Swish the water around, then spit — don't swallow. If you still taste the medication, rinse and spit again. This reduces the amount of medication reaching your stomach.

To relieve dry mouth, try:

  • Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy
  • Sipping water or another unsweetened drink
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
  • Avoiding spicy and salty food

COPD is a progressive loss of lung function due to chronic bronchitis and emphysema (em-fuh-SEE-muh). As COPD advances, you may have almost constant shortness of breath, along with episodes of severe breathing difficulty, known as exacerbations. Once-daily use of a Spiriva inhaler may improve your breathing and reduce the number of exacerbations you have.

If your Spiriva side effects are severe or persistent, ask your doctor about trying a different medication.

Last Updated: 2010-05-22
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