Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung disease that affects at least
Even if you are already being treated for COPD, you may experience a worsening or acute flare-up of your condition. This may include various symptoms of breathing difficulties, along with the possibility that emergency treatment is needed.
Doctors previously diagnosed and treated COPD exacerbations based on exacerbations of core symptoms only. Newer guidelines reflect the complexity and differences in this lung disease. Read on to learn more about these diagnostic differences, and what you should do if you have a possible COPD exacerbation.
Doctors previously diagnosed COPD exacerbations only by exacerbations of three ‘core’, or primary, symptoms. here they are:
- shortness of breath Describes shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
- sputum volume It is the amount of mucus in the airways. During an exacerbation, you will have more mucus secretion.
- vomit phlegm Describes the color and texture of the mucus you may cough up. In COPD, mucus is
NormallyWhite or light yellow. Darker shades of yellow or green could indicate an infection.
If you have COPD, you may experience these symptoms regularly. Without treatment, these symptoms can worsen over time and affect your daily activities.
Previously used by doctors
- type 1: All three basic symptoms are present
- Type 2: Which two of the primary symptoms are present?
- Type 3: The presence of one of the primary symptoms, along with upper respiratory tract infection and fever, or Increased wheezing, coughing, or heart rate
Doctors used the type of COPD exacerbation to help determine the best course of treatment. In particular, help doctors decide whether to prescribe antibiotics to control symptoms.
Doctors currently define an exacerbation of COPD as an exacerbation of symptoms that leads to additional treatment. This approach is more accurate. Besides looking at specific symptoms, it also takes into account when a person’s symptoms have changed enough to warrant a change in treatment.
People with COPD still have core symptoms, but they cannot be relied upon on their own as diagnostic criteria. This is because these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, such as congestive heart failure and pneumonia.
Exacerbations are now organized as follows:
- Nice: Requires an increase in current medications
- Moderate: Requires corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both
- Intense: hospitalization required
If you have COPD, you should have a plan of care and an action plan with your doctor. This helps you manage your usual symptoms, and also helps you know what to do if a flare-up occurs. If you have an exacerbation of COPD, you will need to see a doctor.
To treat and manage a flare-up, doctors treat the three physiological events responsible for it:
- clogged airway
A moderate or severe COPD flare-up is often due to infection. Doctors use antibiotics to eliminate the infection. You can expect to take it for 5 to 7 days.
The choice of antibiotic may depend on how many underlying symptoms are present. Your doctor will also consider side effects and any possible resistance you may have to certain antibiotics.
Some of the common antibiotics used include:
To reduce inflammation, the doctor will prescribe a corticosteroid such as prednisone or hydrocortisone. This will help widen your airway. Some steroids you inhale, but others you take by injection into a vein (IV) or birth control pills.
To relieve blocked airways, your doctor may prescribe a fast-acting bronchodilator, such as albuterol or ipratropium, to help relax the tissues in the air passages in your lungs. It is usually taken with an inhaler or nebulizer.
Your doctor may also offer oxygen therapy to help you breathe more easily. In severe cases, you may need to be placed on a ventilator to help you with your breathing mechanics.
An exacerbation of COPD can last several days or even a month or longer. Severe attacks may require hospitalization.
Call 911 or your local emergency services if you (or a loved one) have any of the following:
- Shortness of breath so severe that you can’t speak
- Shortness of breath prevents you from lying down
- severe chest pain
- Blue or pale skin and lips
How often do COPD exacerbations occur?
The exact frequency of COPD exacerbations may be unexpected, but you may experience them more often depending on your classification. COPD itself is regulated using the GOLD system. If you are in a GOLD C or D group, you have had a further disturbance or hospitalization in the past year.
When do I need to see a doctor for an exacerbation of COPD?
You should see a doctor right away if you think you may have an exacerbation of COPD. If left untreated, a worsening of the condition can lead to further breathing difficulties
Can I prevent an exacerbation of COPD?
While there is no cure for COPD, treatment can help you manage symptoms. You can also
You can also stay up to date on your vaccinations
COPD exacerbation describes worsening of symptoms that lead to the need for a change in treatment. While you may experience the three core symptoms, doctors now use broader criteria to properly diagnose a seizure.
COPD is a progressive condition that may get worse over time. It’s important to follow your treatment plan and to help prevent triggers and infections that could lead to a potentially life-threatening exacerbation.
Talk to your doctor right away if you experience a worsening of symptoms despite treatment. These may be indications of an exacerbation. If you have a history of exacerbations, work with a doctor to come up with an action plan for COPD.