Early diagnosis and treatment of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may improve outcomes and avoid the need for hospital admission.
- An exacerbation of COPD is characterised by a change in the patient’s baseline symptoms of dyspnoea, cough and/or sputum production that is acute in onset and may warrant a change in medication.
- An increased respiratory rate and/or airway inflammation may result in dynamic hyperinflation and gas trapping.
- Appropriate management of exacerbations includes the use of bronchodilators, systemic corticosteroids, antibiotics and, in severe exacerbations, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation.
- Patients who have had one exacerbation are highly likely to have a recurrence. An appropriate follow-up management plan and early initiation of therapy may improve outcomes.