Bronchodilators relax the smooth muscle around the bronchioles, which widens airways and allows easier airflow. These drugs decrease airflow obstruction (improve emptying of the lungs), reducing hyperinflation and improving exercise performance.1 Bronchodilators are fundamental to symptom management in COPD. There are three main types of bronchodilator medication:

β2-agonists and muscarinic antagonists are usually administered via inhalation, and methylxanthines are given orally or intravenously.

The two main types of pharmacologic therapies available for the management of COPD are bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs. Bronchodilators are central to the symptomatic management of COPD, with β2-agonists and muscarinic antagonists being the most widely used classes.