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Management of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Author
James K Stoller, MD, MS
Section Editor
Peter J Barnes, DM, DSc, FRCP, FRS
Deputy Editor
Helen Hollingsworth, MD

INTRODUCTION

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), a report produced by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), defines an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as "an acute event characterized by a worsening of the patient's respiratory symptoms that is beyond normal day-to-day variations and leads to a change in medication" [1]. This generally includes an acute change in one or more of the following cardinal symptoms:

Cough increases in frequency and severity

Sputum production increases in volume and/or changes character

Dyspnea increases

The management of patients with exacerbations of COPD is discussed in detail here. A table to assist with emergency management of severe acute exacerbations of COPD is provided (table 1). The diagnosis and treatment of infection in exacerbations and the management of stable COPD are discussed separately. (See "Management of infection in exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" and "Management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease".)

                                     

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Thu Oct 20 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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