Management of acute exacerbations in asthma and COPD
One of the aims of management, for both Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, is to prevent, or reduce the incidence of acute exacerbations. This is achieved with the use of regular long term pharmacotherapy coupled with an awareness, by both patients and healthcare professionals, of the early warning signs of an impending exacerbation in order that appropriate interventions to prevent an attack becoming severe and potentially life threatening can be instituted promptly .
Regular review and ongoing therapy reduce the risk of acute exacerbations, but they can still occur, even in an otherwise optimally managed patient. It is therefore essential that healthcare professionals know how to assess the severity of these events and understand how to treat them appropriately.
British and international guidelines for asthma and COPD reinforce the importance of prompt and vigorous treatment for all exacerbations. It has been found that most asthma attacks requiring hospital admission are not sudden in onset but actually occur over a period of time which can range from a few hours, days or even weeks. People with COPD may delay or fail to seek help and the consequences of this can be a poorer and slower response to treatment and increased risk of admission. So in both asthma and COPD if signs of exacerbation are spotted early and effective action taken then it may possible to reduce the need for admission and the risk of fatality.
This resource, which is based on typical case scenarios, is offered at an intermediate level and includes five assessment questions to support your continuing professional development. Complete the resource to obtain a certificate for one hour of continuing professional development to include in your annual portfolio.
Aims and Objectives
On completion of this resource you should have an understanding of:
British Thoracic Society Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network British Guideline on the Management of Asthma, 2012 https://www.sign.ac.uk/guidelines/fulltext/101/
Department of Health An outcomes strategy for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asthma in England, 2011 www.gov.uk/government/publications/an-outcomes-strategy-for-people-with-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd-and-asthma-in-england
NICE CG101 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults in primary and secondary care (update), 2010. www.nice.org.uk/cg101
Further education and training
Treatment and management of acute exacerbations of asthma and COPD is included as part of all asthma and COPD diploma and degree level courses in addition to one day workshops provided by Education for Health. For further information please see:
Asthma eLearning Degree Module https://www.educationforhealth.org/shop.php/courses/106
COPD eLearning Degree Module https://www.educationforhealth.org/shop.php/courses/117/copd
Asthma eLearning Diploma Module https://www.educationforhealth.org/shop.php/courses/115
Asthma eLearning Diploma Module (Stirling)
Asthma eLearning Diploma Module (London)
COPD eLearning Diploma Module
COPD eLearning Diploma Module (Stirling)
Essentials of Asthma Workshop
Essentials of COPD Workshop
Paediatric Asthma Workshop