Side Effects of Spiriva Handihaler

Physicians prescribe bronchodilators such as the generically named tiotropium found in the Spiriva Handihaler to help relieve the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The medication helps open the airways called bronchial tubes inside the person’s lungs, the Mayo Clinic reports. When inhaled, the medication can reduce breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.


Using the Spiriva Handihaler can induce serious side effects that commonly affect the person’s heart. Tiotropium can cause the heart to speed up beyond normal in a condition termed tachycardia. The medication also may make the heart skip beats or beat irregularly. Both of these problems classify as arrhythimias and need immediate medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Inhaling tiotropium from the Spiriva Handihaler can cause pain that is classified as a serious and common side effect. Pain or a general feeling of discomfort may occur in the chest. Changes in the lungs may cause this problem, or the aforementioned heart arrhythmias may do it. The sensation also may appear as heaviness or tightness in the chest rather than pain. In any of these cases, immediate medical help will be needed, the Mayo Clinic reports. Pain also may occur elsewhere in the body as a serious common side effect. This pain may occur in the jaw, back or arms.

Nausea and Sweating

The medication in the Spiriva Handihaler may produce disturbances in the digestive system such as nausea, which is categorized as serious and common. The person also may feel an increase in sweating while taking the drug. Immediate medical aid is required for these side effects.

Blurry Vision

Classified as non-serious, blurry vision may occur when the person starts using the Spiriva Handihaler, according to This side effect may happen because of a change in body fluid levels brought about by the introduction of tiotropium into the body. The eyes need a particular level of liquid to focus accurately, and when that level decrease or increases, vision can become blurry. The side effect typically does not last long but may require medical aid if it does.

Constipation and Dry Mouth

The changes in body fluids that may occur because the use of the Spiriva Handihaler also may cause a blockage in the intestines that prevents bowel movements for a day or two. The fluid level determines how easily stools pass through the colon, so a reduction in bodily fluid may cause constipation as well as cramps in the abdomen. Dry mouth, also sometimes called cotton mouth, may occur because of this fluid imbalance for a few days, indicates. Neither of these problems is classified as serious.

About this Author

Carole Anne Tomlinson has been a registered nurse working in a variety of medical environments for more than 25 years. She now serves as the nursing supervisor for a chemical dependency facility. She has also written numerous articles for a variety of websites.