COPD Rescue medicine Pack
Do not use the Rescue Pack if it has passed its expiry date; contact your Doctor urgently to obtain a new supply.
What is my COPD Rescue Pack?
Your COPD Rescue Pack contains a supply of standby medications to start if your COPD deteriorates before you are able to see your GP.
Your COPD Rescue Pack contains two different medications:
- Steroid tablets: Prednisolone 5mg tablets to be taken with or after food
- Antibiotic Amoxicillin 500mg capsules
Note: Amoxicillin is a type of penicillin, if you are allergic to penicillin or amoxicillin, do not take this medication, instead inform your pharmacist and GP straight away.
- Antibiotic Doxycycline 100mg capsules
Note: If you are allergic to tetracycline, do not take this medication, instead inform your pharmacist and GP straight away
Please read this leaflet and keep it with your rescue pack medications.
When should I take my COPD Rescue Pack?
Only start your rescue pack medication if you have a flare-up of your COPD
You should have a COPD management plan detailing the steps you should take in the event of a flare-up of your COPD. If you do not have a current management plan, contact your GP or COPD nurse.
Do not use the Rescue Pack if it has passed its expiry date, instead contact your Doctor urgently to obtain a new supply.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Increased shortness of breath – unable to carry out your normal activities
- Increased cough
- Increased sputum (phlegm)
Start prednisolone tablets as you may have a non-infected worsening of your COPD.
Take six tablets immediately and then continue with six tablets as a single dose each morning, with food, for a total of 7 days only.
Also increase the use of your salbutamol (blue) inhaler as directed.
If you also notice one or more of the symptoms below :
- Change in the colour, amount and/or consistency of your sputum (phlegm)
- Increased temperature feeling hot and shivery
Also start the antibiotics as well as the prednisolone
Amoxicillin 500mg capsules to be taken three times a day for 5 days.
Doxycycline 100mg capsules to be taken with a large glass of water twice a day for 5 days
If there is no improvement in your symptoms within 2-3 days or your symptoms are getting worse (see below)
- Increased shortness of breath
- Chest Pain
Contact your GP/ Specialist Nurse
In case of extreme emergency dial 999 for an ambulance
Once you have recovered, please let your GP surgery know if you have used your prednisolone and/or antibiotics and re-order another supply for you to keep, in case they are needed in the future.
What should I do if I’ve forgotten to take a dose?
It is important that you take the medication as prescribed.
However, if you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember and then carry on taking your next dose at its regular time. If you realise you have missed a dose but it is almost time for your next dose, do not take a double dose, skip the dose you have missed, take the next dose at its regular time and then carry on as normal with any remaining doses.
Are there any side effects?
All medications may cause side effects. With short courses such as your COPD Rescue Pack, most people don’t have any problems.
The patient information leaflets supplied with each medication within your Rescue pack lists the more common side effects and other precautions. Please read these leaflets. If you are concerned about any side effects please contact your COPD nurse, GP or Community Pharmacist for further information. If it is out of hours phone 111.
What else should I be doing?
If you start your rescue pack, you must contact your GP or COPD nurse to inform them that you are less well and have started the rescue pack.
If you develop any emergency symptoms, even after starting the rescue pack, such as:
- severe breathlessness
- chest pain
- high fever
Contact your GP immediately, or phone 111.
In an extreme emergency dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.
If you need to go to the hospital please take all your medicines with you, including inhalers.
Make sure you request a replacement rescue pack once you have recovered.
Your GP or practice nurse may invite you in for a treatment review.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties.
- emphysema – damage to the air sacs in the lungs
- chronic bronchitis – long-term inflammation of the airways
COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. Many people don't realise they have it.
The breathing problems tend to get gradually worse over time and can limit your normal activities, although treatment can help keep the condition under control.
Symptoms of COPD
The main symptoms of COPD are:
- increasing breathlessness, particularly when you're active
- a persistent chesty cough with phlegm – some people may dismiss this as just a "smoker's cough"
- frequent chest infections
- persistent wheezing
Without treatment, the symptoms usually get slowly worse. There may also be periods when they get suddenly worse, known as a flare-up or exacerbation.
Read more about the symptoms of COPD.
When to get medical advice
See your GP if you have persistent symptoms of COPD, particularly if you're over 35 and smoke or used to smoke.
Don't ignore the symptoms. If they're caused by COPD, it's best to start treatment as soon as possible, before your lungs become significantly damaged.
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and whether you smoke or have smoked in the past. They can organise a breathing test to help diagnose COPD and rule out other lung conditions, such as asthma.
Read more about how COPD is diagnosed.
Causes of COPD
COPD occurs when the lungs become inflamed, damaged and narrowed. The main cause is smoking, although the condition can sometimes affect people who have never smoked.
The likelihood of developing COPD increases the more you smoke and the longer you've smoked.
Some cases of COPD are caused by long-term exposure to harmful fumes or dust, or occur as a result of a rare genetic problem that means the lungs are more vulnerable to damage.
Read more about the causes of COPD.
Treatments for COPD
The damage to the lungs caused by COPD is permanent, but treatment can help slow down the progression of the condition.
- stopping smoking – if you have COPD and you smoke, this is the most important thing you can do
- inhalers and medications – to help make breathing easier
- pulmonary rehabilitation – a specialised programme of exercise and education
- surgery or a lung transplant – although this is only an option for a very small number of people
Read more about how COPD is treated and living with COPD.
Outlook for COPD
The outlook for COPD varies from person to person. The condition can't be cured or reversed, but for many people treatment can help keep it under control so it doesn't severely limit their daily activities.
But in some people COPD may continue to get worse despite treatment, eventually having a significant impact on their quality of life and leading to life-threatening problems.
Social care and support guide
- need help with day-to-day living because of illness or disability
- care for someone regularly because they're ill, elderly or disabled - including family members
Our guide to care and support explains your options and where you can get support.
COPD is largely a preventable condition. You can significantly reduce your chances of developing it if you avoid smoking.
If you already smoke, stopping can help prevent further damage to your lungs before it starts to cause troublesome symptoms.
If you think you need help to stop smoking, you can contact NHS Smokefree for free advice and support. You may also want to talk to your GP about the stop smoking medications available.
Read more about advice about stopping smoking or find a stop smoking service near you.