It is a kind of crisis of increased or worsened symptoms. COPD is a chronic condition but some times patients may have worse times. Those periods of time when symptoms make patients feel scared are “Exacerbations”. Don’t forget the term: Exacerbations. They are real crises and might require a different approach to manage them and control the consequences.
In fact: Not unknown
Patients with COPD really know what Exacerbations are. They even avoid calling them by its name because some may require a visit to ER or the doctor’s office. It’s ok to let your health care giver to know about the symptoms, the change in intensity, as well as the fear to having an exacerbation in progress.
These days, we know about this problem as part of the disease. It is necessary to recognize it on time, because some other measures are required. Not only being compliant with the usual management of the disease helps but some temporary adjustments can be of benefit.
Continue your medications to reduce serious complications
Recently, it has been shown how important is to have a regular daily use of bronchodilators in order to reduce the frequency of exacerbations. That is a an expected benefit that patients can consider with their doctors. However, it does not mean that exacerbations will not occur if patients are compliant with their medications. Reducing the frequency of symptoms’ worsening or the need to change medications, is also part of the general goals when controlling patients with COPD.
Make yourself familiar with your own symptoms pattern
Then, be sure to know your symptoms, to be familiar with the level of their intensity. A change in your usual pattern can be an exacerbation. As such, the management of the disease may need some adjustment.
Causes/Triggers of exacerbations
The most common causes are respiratory infections of any type. A common cold in COPD can result in a severe exacerbation if it is not addressed appropriately and on time. Discuss with your people at home and let them know when you don’t feel as usual. Let them know that you may have an exacerbation.
Be in control
While you feel controlled, don’t forget to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Be active and avoid environments that you know may have bad results on your health: symptomatic patients with a cold, pollution, smokers, excess conditioned air (heat, cold). Be patient and take control of your condition with a little help of friends (including your doctor, of course).