Treatment and Prevention of COPD Exacerbation

November 12, 2012

Treatment and Prevention of COPD Exacerbation

The definition of COPD exacerbation is when the usual path of the disease such as cough, sputum, dyspnea worsen and changes can occur.

If there is a change in the COPD symptoms it may that be a change of medication is required. The main causes of COPD exacerbation are air pollution and infection of the lungs or airways. In approximately one third of cases the cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is not known.

Recent studies have shown that not using an inhaler in the correct way, not having a pulmonary rehabilitation program and smoking all impact on COPD. Not following a program for drug therapy correctly is also linked to an increase in COPD exacerbation. It is very important if a doctor has given you a treatment plan for COPD that it is carried out correctly.

One of the main symptoms of a serious incident of COPD exacerbation is experiencing an increase in breathlessness. Along with the breathlessness other symptoms include:

  • Wheezing

  • Increase in the production of sputum and coughing and also change in appearance of thickness and color

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Fever

The treatment involved in COPD exacerbation is either being admitted to hospital or a nurse provides treatment in your home. Reports have shown that home nursing provides practical and effective treatment as an alternative to a stay in hospital. The criteria that is used in treating patients at home with COPD exacerbation is not known and there appears to be variations on who and how to receive this.

If treatment of COPD exacerbation is not able to be administered safely in the home environment it may be admittance to hospital is necessary. The treatment received at the hospital will be managed by the medical staff and could include any of the following:

  • Oxygen

  • Glucocorticosteroids to treat inflammation either IV, oral or inhaled

  • Antibiotics will be given if there is a bacterial infection

  • Stimulants for the respiratory trace

  • Bronchodilators

  • Ventilators either by mask or invasive when a tube is inserted into the lungs via the mouth

Preventative measures may help patients who have exacerbation of COPD. These measures may include:

  • Having a pneumonia vaccine

  • Remember to have the flu vaccine on an annual basis as this can reduce a serious illness and possible death by approximately 50% in patients with COPD

  • Maintain good hygiene, e.g. always wash your hands

  • Have a healthy balanced diet

  • Take part in activities or exercise when you can

  • Make sure you have enough sleep

  • If you can, try to avoid exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, extreme temperatures and air pollution

  • In the cold and flu seasons keep away from crowds

COPD exacerbation is very weakening and debilitating and can lead to serious illness and is possibly lethal. By taking care and using the preventative measures this can help to stay clear of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation episode occurring.


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