What to do in an exacerbation

Tablet medication in a tub


  • Antibiotics are used to treat an infective exacerbation which presents with an acute deterioration, usually over a few days. If possible a mucus sample should be submitted to guide antibiotic choices.
  • An antibiotic may be started based on previous mucus sensitivities where a specific bacteria is unknown.
  • If there is failure to improve after 5-7 days of antibiotic therapy, a change my be indicated and sputum test result can guide this.
  • Two weeks of antibiotics are recommended.
  • Increasing fluids will help to keep airways hydrated and thin the mucus making it easier to cough up.
  • Patients should increase frequency of their airway clearance technique.
  • They should increase frequency of nebulised saline or bronchodilator in line with chest physiotherapy.