May represent the first presentation of COPD, usually associated with a history of tobacco exposure.
Typically presents with an increased level of dyspnea, worsening of chronic cough, and/or an increase in the volume and/or purulence of the sputum produced.
Treatment includes bronchodilators, systemic corticosteroids, and antibiotics.
Antibiotics may be reserved for exacerbations thought to be due to bacteria. An acute change in the volume and color of sputum produced is suggestive of a bacterial trigger.
Treatment may be complicated by the development of hyperglycemia (associated with the use of corticosteroids) and/or diarrhea, including Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (associated with the use of antibiotics).
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