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Identifying and managing seasonal exacerbations of COPD

Anne Rodman looks at the complications which can be caused by the change of the seasons

This article will explore the nature of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), their identification, treatment and impact on patient management, and when they are most likely to occur.1 It will also discuss how this affects the patient experience of disease, and prevention strategies.

An acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD) is defined by GOLD as an acute worsening of respiratory symptoms that results in the need for additional therapy, and by NICE as a sustained worsening of the patient’s symptoms from their usual stable state which is beyond normal day-to-day variations, and is acute in onset. Commonly reported symptoms are worsening breathlessness, cough, increased sputum production and change in sputum colour. The change in these symptoms often necessitates a change in medication.2

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