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Acute Exacergation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmary Disease

Posted Mar 20 2010 9:17am

COPD Exacerbation: Defined

I have just completed a 10 course of Avelox along with a taper down Prednisone therapy to start 40 mg. for a week. Also been prescribed another inhaler Xopenex to be used in conjucntion with my nebulizer. As of today I feel much better than last week. It came on quick and hard. Hope the following helps.

 Breathe Easy,



In its simplest terms, an exacerbation is a worsening of symptoms. In more in-depth terms, a COPD exacerbation can be defined as “an event in the natural course of the disease characterized by a change in the patient's baseline dyspnea,cough, and/or sputum, that is beyond normal day-to-day variations, is acute in onset and may warrant a change in medication in a patient with underlying COPD,” according to the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).

Causes of COPD Exacerbation: Infection, Air Pollution

The top two causes of an exacerbation are infection of the airways or lungs and air pollution. In one-third of all COPD exacerbation cases, however, the cause cannot be identified.

Studies have found that smoking, lack of a pulmonary rehabilitation program, improper use of an inhaler and poor adherence to a drug therapy program are all associated with more frequent episodes of COPD exacerbation. Therefore, it is important that if you have been prescribed a treatment regimen for your COPD, you stick to the program and follow your doctor’s orders.

Signs and Symptoms of a COPD Exacerbation

The main symptom of an acute exacerbation of COPD is increased breathlessness which is often accompanied by the following:

  • Increased cough and sputum production
  • Change in the color and/or thickness of the sputum
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Fever

Treatment of COPD Exacerbation

Often, either a hospital stay or a home-care nurse are necessary for managing an exacerbation. According to GOLD, nurse-administered home care can be a practical yet effective alternative to hospital care in certain patients with COPD exacerbation. The exact criteria used to determine who would benefit most from this approach, however, is uncertain and varies according to health care setting.

If your exacerbation of COPD cannot be managed safely at home, you will be admitted to the hospital. Once there, your treatment, as determined by your health care provider, may include the following:

Prevention of COPD Exacerbation

Preventative strategies that may help patients with COPD prevent acute exacerbation include:

One Final Word

COPD exacerbations are debilitating, in and of themselves. The toll they take on your body can lead to disability and even death. Paying attention to your body, taking better care of yourself and taking steps towards prevention may ultimately help you to avoid a COPD exacerbation.

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