1 What is Spiriva?

Brand: Spiriva, Spiriva Respimat

Generic: Tiotropium

Spiriva is a maintenance drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Spiriva belongs to the family of medicines known as bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are breathed in through the mouth to help open up the bronchial tubes (air passages) in the lungs.

COPD is a lung disease that also includes chronic bronchitis (swelling of the tubes leading to the lungs) and emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs). Spiriva is also used as maintenance treatment of asthma in adults and children 12 years of age and older.

Doctors prescribe Spiriva as a daily medicine for COPD. Spiriva works by reducing exacerbations (sudden worsening of symptoms). Spiriva is taken as an inhaled drug (using an inhaler) that will increase the flow of air to the lungs.

Spiriva is available only with your doctor's prescription. Note that Spiriva will not work to stop and treat exacerbations once it started.

2 What to Know Before Using

The doctor needs to consider the following before prescribing Spiriva.


Tell all your allergies to drugs and food to the doctor before using Spiriva. If you experienced allergies to Spiriva before, you couldnot use it. Also, you cannot use Spiriva if you have allergies to the drugs Tiotropium or Ipratropium.

Health conditions

Certain health conditions may worsen when you take Spiriva. Make sure to tell the doctor all of your health problems before taking Spiriva, especially if you have the following:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Tell the doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking Spiriva. Spiriva is an FDA pregnancy category C drug, which means that it may cause harm to the fetus when given to pregnant patients.

Do not breastfeed if you are taking Spiriva. Spiriva may be expressed in breastmilk.

Use on children

Spiriva is not known to be effective or safe in children. Do not give Spiriva to patients below 18 years old. 

3 Proper Usage

Spiriva is an inhaled drug. Spiriva comes with a packaged inhaler device called HandiHaler™. Spiriva capsule must be used with this HandiHaler™. Do not take this Spiriva capsule by mouth. Always follow your doctor’s instructions in taking Spiriva.

Spiriva comes with an information guide. Make sure to read and understand the information in this guide before taking Spiriva.

You only have to take Spiriva once a day. The usual dose is two puffs (inhalations) from one Spiriva capsule. Make sure to follow your doctor’s prescribed dose in taking Spiriva. The Spiriva capsule is placed in the inhaler device. Pressing the button on the side of the inhaler device pierces the capsule that releases the drug in the air, which you inhale. Throw the used capsule away.

There is another device called Respimat™ that contains multiple doses of Spiriva, so you do not have to put a capsule each time you take a dose. The Respimat device locks itself after 30 doses or 60 puffs.

You need to be seen by the doctor regularly when taking Spiriva.

You must take Spiriva regularly to get the most benefit. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Just remember to space doses by 24 hours apart. If you used too much Spiriva, call emergency medical services right away. Overdose symptoms of Spiriva include blurred vision, constipation, and difficulty urination.

Spiriva capsules can become ruined if exposed to air. Store Spiriva in its original blister pack and do not open until you are ready to use it. Keep Spiriva at room temperature away from moisture and heat. 

4 Precautions to Take

It is important that you visit the doctor frequently when taking Spiriva. Make sure to keep up with doctor’s appointments and lab tests.

Make sure to inhale Spiriva completely. Do take care that the drug powder does not come into the eyes.

Note that Spiriva cannot stop exacerbations once it starts. If you are starting to have exacerbations, use the specific medication prescribed by your doctor.

Use Spiriva properly. If you have questions or become confused, call the doctor right away for help.  

If you notice that Spiriva does not seem to reduce the frequency of exacerbations after a month or two of using, call the doctor right away.

Spiriva may cause dizziness, blurred vision, or impair your thinking and reactions. Do not drive or perform dangerous tasks right after taking Spiriva.

When taking Spiriva, make sure not to take any medicine, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, unless prescribed by your doctor. Mind that when taking Spiriva, you must avoid medicines for colds, allergies, muscle relaxants, and drugs for nausea or motion sickness. 

5 Potential Side Effects

Spiriva may cause side effects that require medical attention. Make sure to call the doctor if you experienced the following:

  • Severe allergic reaction symptoms such as hives, itching, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat.
  • Wheezing or choking, or other breathing difficulties
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Blurred vision, eye pain or redness
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing too little or no urine

Spiriva may cause minor side effects such as:

  • Symptoms of colds such as stuffy or a runny nose, sinus pain, and sore throat
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Painful urination
  • Stomach upset
  • Chest pain

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