[Cập nhật]: 4 steps to control COPD exacerbations


If you have been living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for a long time, you may have experienced exacerbations of the disease. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and wheezing are representative of a COPD exacerbation. If not treated promptly and carefully, these symptoms may require emergency intervention.

COPD exacerbations can be a threat, but their effects can be detrimental far beyond control. Research shows that the more severe the exacerbation, the greater the likelihood that you will need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Learning how to prevent and manage exacerbations can help you recognize the onset of an exacerbation, become healthier, and avoid medical emergencies.

Signs of an exacerbation

During a COPD exacerbation, the ventilation function of the lungs changes rapidly and unpredictably. You may have a sudden increase in the amount of phlegm in the bronchial tubes, or the smooth muscles surrounding the airways may constrict significantly, reducing the amount of air needed.

Symptoms of a COPD exacerbation include:

  • Unable to breathe or having difficulty breathing. Or feel like you can’t take a deep breath or have pauses in breathing.
  • Cough increases. Coughing helps clear congestion and irritants out of the lungs and airways.
  • Wheezing. Hearing a wheezing or hissing sound when you breathe means air has to pass through a narrow tube.
  • Increased phlegm. You may start to cough with a lot of phlegm, and it may change color from normal.
  • Fatigue or sleep disturbance. Disrupted sleep or exhaustion can be evidence of a lack of oxygen in the lungs and throughout the body.
  • Loss of consciousness. Confusion, sluggishness, depression or memory loss can be caused by the brain not getting enough oxygen.

Don’t delay when you notice an increase in symptoms of COPD. If you are having trouble breathing and your symptoms are getting worse, you need to use medicine effectively and appropriately.

4 steps to managing COPD exacerbations

When you experience a COPD exacerbation, the first thing we need to do is to review strategies for dealing with COPD with our doctors. This will dictate specific actions, doses, or medications to control COPD exacerbations.

  1. Using the spray:

The inhaler works by delivering a dose of medication straight into your constricting lungs. The spray can help relax the muscles in the airways quickly, helping you breathe more easily.

Common bronchodilators are anticholinergics and beta 2 agonists. They work better if used with a spacer or nebulizer.

  1. Taking oral corticosteroids to reduce inflammation:

Corticosteroids reduce swelling and can dilate the airways to allow more air in and out of the lungs. If you don’t use them as part of your treatment, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids for a week or more after an exacerbation to control inflammation.

  1. Use an oxygen tank to get more oxygen into your body:

If you use a home oxygen device, you can expect it to be beneficial during an exacerbation. The best advice is to follow the direction of COPD treatment that has been established by your doctor to control your breathing while you’re on oxygen.

  1. Switch to mechanical intervention:

In some situations, reduction in medication intake, use of anti-inflammatory steroids, and oxygen therapy may not control increasing symptoms.

In one example, you may need a device that can help you breathe during what is known as a mechanical intervention.

If you find that home treatment isn’t working, it’s better to seek help. Call 911 or ask a loved one to help you. Once you are taken to the hospital, you may need a bronchodilator such as theophylline to be able to control your symptoms.

You may also need an intravenous catheter to balance water and electrolytes, as well as antibiotics to avoid respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

  • Prevention and preparedness can make the difference between a COPD exacerbation that does not require hospitalization and requires inpatient treatment.

It is important that you talk to your doctor about medication to take when an undesirable situation worsens existing symptoms.

Fortunately, most patients recover to breathing after following symptom control steps.

During the procedure, you should stay calm to minimize symptoms. But if you feel panic, you should seek help promptly.


Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., RN, CRNA — Written by New Life Outlook — Updated on January 14, 2019

Maselli DJ, et al. (2012). The need to further understand who gets hospitalized for a COPD exacerbation. DOI: doi.org/10.1186/2049-6958-7-7

Self-translated article by Ykhoa.org, please do not reup.

Source: Healthline

Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/steps-for-managing-copd-flare

Author: Kha Nguyen

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