Spiriva is a medication developed and marketed by Boehringer Ingelheim pharmaceutical company that is commonly prescribed for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (better known by abbreviation COPD). This medication is issued with a device called HandiHaler which is used to pierce the capsules containing the medication and distribute the contents in the form of a powder which is then inhaled by the user. Held in high regard by professional doctors and patients alike, Spiriva is considered to be rather safe and reliable COPD treatment. With tiotropium bromide monohydrate as an active ingredient, Spiriva is classified as a long-acting bronchodilator capable of producing the desired effects for as long as 24 hours.

What’s on this page?

How is COPD treated?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD for short is an umbrella term denoting a number of different medical conditions affecting the respiratory system, including bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. With smoking as the single most common cause of COPD, lifestyle changes are always the first line of treatment. Once the condition is diagnosed and confirmed, the doctor will first recommend you to try and avoid or at least limit your exposure to various airborne irritants.

Quitting smoking is absolutely necessary in order to prevent the condition from deteriorating further and make the use of medication possible. Other measures that should be taken include eliminating exposure to irritants such as chemical fumes, pollution or allergens. Of course, in some cases it won’t be possible to completely avoid irritants, but limiting exposure will still be highly advised.

Only after these measures are taken, the doctor might recommend using prescription medication to keep the condition under control. Bronchodilators are very commonly used in this situation as they have proven to be highly adept at alleviating the symptoms. COPD usually manifests through phlegmy cough, wheezing (especially following physical strain) and loss of breath. All of these symptoms can be diminished by dilating the airways using some of the medications that have proven to be reliable options for COPD treatment.

How does Spiriva work?

As mentioned, Spiriva is classified as a long-acting bronchodilator due to its active ingredient, tiotropium bromide monohydrate. This substance, in turn, belongs to a group of pharmaceutical compounds called antimuscarinics, which is fairly common about COPD treatments with Combivent’s ipratropium and Eklira Genuair’s aclidium as some of the best-known examples. Once ingested, they work by inhibiting the activity of naturally occurring chemical called acetylcholine that plays a central role in tightening of the smooth muscles lining the airways. When the chain of biochemical reactions of this kind is interrupted by the presence of Spiriva in the organism, the contraction of the muscle tissue will not take place, allowing the patient using the medicine to breathe more easily.

How is Spiriva used?

Prior to commencing treatment, it is important to be absolutely confident about your knowledge regarding how Spiriva should be used. Of course, your prescriber will provide you with all the information you might need to use this treatment safely and efficiently. And for a quick recap, you can always refer to the official patient information leaflet that issued within every pack of the medicine.

Below, we will provide you with a short overview of some of the most important guidelines that you should keep in mind when using Spiriva. For a more in-depth guide, please refer to the official patient information leaflet or consult with a doctor or pharmacist.

  • Always use exactly as instructed
  • The usual dose is one inhaled capsule per day
  • As Spiriva is long-acting bronchodilator, you should aim to take your dose at roughly the same time each day
  • One dose will remain active for 24 hours
  • Spiriva capsules can be used only through HandiHaler device – never attempt to use them in any other way
  • To use the device, first open the dust cap by pressing in the button and lifting the lid
  • Put the mouthpiece over the compartment – you should hear a click when it is correctly placed
  • To puncture the capsule, press in the button and then release it
  • First breathe out fully
  • Then place the mouthpiece in your mouth and inhale slowly and deeply
  • Hold your breath for as long as you are comfortable and then breathe out
  • Remove the mouthpiece
  • Once you have successfully administered the dose, empty the device and replace the dust cap
  • For a detailed and illustrated step-by-step guide on how to use Spiriva, please refer to the patient information leaflet
  • Never exceed the prescribed dose
  • If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due – in that case, simply skip the missed dose and continue with the treatment as usual

What are Spiriva side effects?

Learning about side effects of the medication before the beginning of the treatment is highly advised regardless of the exact prescription medication you might be taking and the same goes for Spiriva. This is so because you should be able to differentiate between side effects which might require you to seek immediate medical advice and halt treatment and those which might be uncomfortable, but no reason for worry.

When it comes to dangerous side effects of Spiriva, the list is rather generic as it is shared with numerous other medications. It mostly focuses on the possibility of an allergic reaction to the medication that might manifest through the swelling of the face, lips, mouth or throat as well as hives or worsening of the COPD symptoms.

Other documented side effects include:

Common (1 in 10 users) Uncommon (1 in 100 users) Rare (1 in 1000 users)
·       Dryness of the mouth










·       Dizziness

·       Unpleasant taste

·       Blurred vision

·       Irregular heartbeat

·       Sore throat

·       Cough

·       Heartburn

·       Constipation

·       Urinary retention

·       Fungal infections

·       Sleeping difficulties

·       Sight problems

·       Palpitations

·       Tightness of the chest

·       Nosebleeds

·       Laryngitis

·       Sinuses inflammation

·       General malaise

·       Itching

·       Urinary infections

Please keep in mind that this is not a full list of all documented Spiriva side effects. For a more detailed overview, please refer to the official patient information leaflet that you can find within your pack of the medication.