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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease • 6: The aetiology of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  1. A J White,
  2. S Gompertz,
  3. R A Stockley
  1. Department of Respiratory Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor R A Stockley Department of Respiratory Medicine, First Floor, Nuffield House, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK;


Exacerbations of COPD are thought to be caused by interactions between host factors, bacteria, viruses, and changes in air quality to produce increased inflammation in the lower airway. The evidence for this and the potential mechanisms by which they result in the characteristic symptoms of exacerbations is reviewed. A better understanding of the causes and processes is needed for the appropriate use of existing treatments and the development of new ones. Future studies need to define populations clearly, stratify for known confounding factors, and should aim to identify clinical correlates so that clinical practice can be modified appropriately.

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • exacerbations
  • aetiology
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