Making a diagnosis

6) Managing exacerbations

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Pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients

An exacerbation or flare up is as a worsening of your symptoms from your usual stable state, which is not within your normal day-to-day variations.  It can start suddenly.

There will be a discussion about how you manage with breathlessness on a day to day basis and how you cope if you have a flare up or an exacerbation such as an infection. Sometimes you may be offered “stand by” or “rescue” medicine to keep at home. You will be given instructions about how and when to take them. They are used to treat an exacerbation as soon as you start to feel unwell. Quick treatment means fewer symptoms, fewer complications and fewer hospital admissions.

Even though COPD cannot be cured there are lots of ways you can improve your symptoms and manage your condition in the long term.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and group discussions which has been proven to make a big difference to how people cope with COPD. For more information please see our section on Pulmonary rehab.