Signs of infection or exacerbation and what to do

6) Going to hospital

Many people experiencing an exacerbation of their COPD will be able to have their treatment at home.

However, if your GP is worried about you they may arrange for you to go into hospital. You need to be in hospital if your oxygen levels are low, or you are really breathless and not managing at home.

You may need treatment that is different or more intensive than you have at home.

View text alternative

  • Oxygen – This is usually given when your blood oxygen levels are low and as you recover. It can usually be stopped before you go home. If you need oxygen at home you will have an assessment for this.
  • Nebulisers – To give medication directly in to the lungs. Most people will not need a nebuliser at home but if you do you will have an assessment for this.
  • Physiotherapy – This will help to clear your chest of sticky sputum. Physiotherapists can teach you chest clearance methods and  give you gentle exercises to do at home as you recover. This will help you to regain strength and fitness which in turn will help you avoid further exacerbations.
  • Intravenous antibiotics – To treat your infection quickly by putting antibiotic in to your blood.
  • Non Invasive Ventilation – This is a special face mask which is used to give oxygen and help you to breathe out carbon dioxide. It allows you to use less effort from your breathing muscles. Some people can find this treatment challenging as they may feel anxious or claustrophobic when the mask is on. It can be a strange sensation but the medical staff will support you to use this.
  • Treatment of any other health problems  which may be contributing to how you feel.