Anticholinergics for cystic fibrosis


Generic Name Brand Name
ipratropium bromide Atrovent

How It Works

Ipratropium helps keep the tubes in the lungs (bronchial tubes) from narrowing.

Anticholinergics begin to work within 15 minutes. They work best after 1 to 2 hours, usually last 3 to 4 hours, and sometimes last up to 6 hours. Anticholinergic medicines can be taken by using an inhaler or a nebulizer.

Why It Is Used

Anticholinergics are sometimes used along with bronchodilators to improve breathing when inflammation or lots of mucus in the lungs makes it hard to breathe.

How Well It Works

Anticholinergics do not work for all people who have cystic fibrosis. More research is needed to know just how well they work for people who have cystic fibrosis.

Side Effects

Side effects are rare with inhaled ipratropium but can include:

  • A dry mouth.
  • Increased wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe).

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

If you have the eye disease glaucoma, talk with an eye doctor before you start taking anticholinergics. People who have glaucoma may need to be watched more closely while they are taking these medicines.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Last Updated: June 23, 2009

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