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Recognising COPD Flare Ups PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leong Oon Keong   
Sunday, 07 June 2009 14:12

      An acute exacerbation (or worsening) of COPD is an event in the natural course of the disease.  It is  characterised by a change in the baseline breathlessness, cough and/or sputum that is beyond the normal day to day variation.  Breathlessness maybe worsened, coughing more frequent and usually productive of a yellowish-green sputum.

     Exacerbations are frequently caused by chest infections which may be viral or bacterial in nature.  Exacerbations usually warrant a change or a step-up in the regular medication. 

     To reduce the number of exacerbations, COPD patients are advised to receive their yearly flu vaccination.  Vaccination against pneumococcal infection may also help.

     COPD sufferers with frequent exacerbations tend to have a more rapid decline in lung function compared to stable COPD patients.  Drugs are now available to reduce exacerbations and slow down the decline in lung function (e.g. inhaled corticosteroids and anti-cholinergics).  Frequent exacerbations increase COPD mortality.

     Seek medical advice early during an exacerbation.  A rapid reversal of the situation is much desired resulting in less hospital admissions or shorter hospital stay days.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 June 2009 15:03