Last reviewed: 16 Apr 2021
Last updated: 01 Apr 2021

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • dyspnea
  • cough
  • wheeze
  • changes in sputum volume/color/thickness
  • tachypnea
  • cyanosis

Other diagnostic factors

  • past medical history of COPD
  • tobacco use
  • past medical history of gastroesophageal reflux/swallowing dysfunction
  • malaise and fatigue
  • chest tightness
  • features of cor pulmonale
  • environmental/occupational exposure to pollutants or dust
  • change in mental status
  • fever
  • accessory muscle use
  • paradoxical movements of abdomen

Risk factors

  • viral infection
  • bacterial infection
  • gastroesophageal reflux/swallowing dysfunction
  • smoking
  • atypical bacterial infection
  • air pollutants
  • change in weather

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • oxygen saturation on pulse oximetry
  • chest x-ray
  • ECG
  • ABG
  • CBC with platelets
  • electrolytes, BUN, + creatinine

Investigations to consider

  • sputum culture + Gram stain
  • respiratory virus diagnostics
  • cardiac troponin
  • CT scan of chest

Emerging tests

  • procalcitonin
  • C-reactive protein

Treatment algorithm

Contributors

ProfessorĀ of Medicine

Yale School of Medicine

New Haven

VA Connecticut Healthcare System

West Haven

CT

Disclosures

CLR serves on the COPD scientific advisory board for GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals but has no competing interests pertaining to this publication.

Associate Professor

Yale School of Medicine

New Haven

CT

Disclosures

RAM declares that he has no competing interests.

Peer reviewersVIEW ALL

Professor of Medicine

Division Chief

Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep Medicine

University at Buffalo

State University of New York

Section Chief

Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep Medicine

VA Western New York Healthcare System

Buffalo

NY

Disclosures

SS declares that he has no competing interests.

Professor

Box Hill Hospital and Monash University

Victoria

Australia

Disclosures

FT declares that he has no competing interests.

Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer