Spiriva capsules contain the active ingredient tiotropium, which is a type of medicine known as an antimuscarinic or anticholinergic bronchodilator. It works by opening the airways to make it easier to breathe. Tiotropium works in the lungs, where it blocks receptors called muscarinic receptors that are found on the muscle surrounding the airways. A natural chemical called acetylcholine normally acts on these receptors, causing the muscle in the airways to contract and the airways to narrow.
In chronic obstructive lung diseases (COPD), such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, the airways are very narrowed, and this makes breathing in and out difficult. Tiotropium blocks the muscarinc receptors in the lungs and therefore stops the action of acetylcholine on them. This allows the muscle around the airways to relax and the airways to open. This makes it easier for people with COPD to breathe.
Dosage and AdministrationTiotropium is taken using an inhaler device called a HandiHaler (included). Inhaling the medicine allows it to act directly in the lungs where it is needed most. It also reduces the potential for side effects in other parts of the body, as the amount absorbed into the blood through the lungs is lower than if it is taken by mouth.
Tiotropium should not be used to relieve an attack of breathing difficulty. Instead, it should be used regularly each day to keep the airways open and help prevent breathing difficulties. The medicine works over 24 hours so it is best to always take it at the same time of day.
Side effectsCommon side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Irritation of the throat and airways due to inhalation of powder
- Difficulty in passing urine (urinary retention)
- Inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis)
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis)
- Allergic reactions such as narrowing of the airways (bronchospasm) or swelling of the lips, throat and tongue (angioedema)
- Fungal infection of the throat (moniliasis)
Immediately seek emergency medical care if you have any hypersensitive reaction. Those include hives, swelling, skin rashes, chest pains, as well as trouble breathing or swallowing.