Recognising an exacerbation



Recognising an exacerbation


Prompt and appropriate treatment for exacerbations is required but management depends on recognising the nature of the episodes.

The diagnosis of a bacterial infection is made when a combination of symptoms exist.

The presence of three or more of the following symptoms in one day (in particular related to sputum and cough) for at least two consecutive days is a guideline for patients for the diagnosis of an exacerbation:


  • increased quantity of sputum

  • change in sputum colour

  • increased cough

  • increased lethargy

  • increased dyspnoea

  • increased sinus discharge

  • new or increased haemoptysis

  • fever


It is desirable for patients to have an action plan, including a prescription for an appropriate antibiotic, to commence when the above criteria for an exacerbation are met.