If you have certain symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), antibiotics may help. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease has updated the COPD treatment guidelines on antibiotics. The guidelines now recommend that antibiotics be used to treat worsening COPD caused by a bacterial infection.
These are instances when antibiotics should be prescribed:
When a patient's COPD worsens and the person has these three symptoms: increased dyspnea (difficulty breathing), an increase in the amount of sputum (mucus), and an increase of infected sputum (pus). Infected pus is usually noted by a change in the color of the sputum from white to yellow, green, or brown.
When a patient has two of the above symptoms and an increase in infected sputum is one of those symptoms
When a patient's COPD worsens so that mechanical ventilation is needed
It is important to see your health care provider early for an antibiotic when you have the symptoms listed above. Keep in mind that an antibiotic may not be needed when you have just a simple cold. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can make them less effective when you really need them.