A flare-up or exacerbation is when your COPD symptoms worsen and become severe.
Signs of a flare-up
- Your breathlessness gets worse
- You are coughing more
- You produce more sputum
- There is a change in colour and consistency of your sputum
Flare-ups may be triggered by an infection. Be aware of changes in your symptoms if you get a cold.
Make sure you have a plan of action agreed with your doctor, so you know what to do when your symptoms worsen.
You may have a rescue pack of medications (antibiotics or steroid tablets or both) that you keep at home. Notify your doctor if you need to start your rescue pack.
Many people can be treated at home for a flare-up, but you may need to go to hospital if your symptoms are severe.
Call 9-1-1 or go to Emergency immediately if:
- You are struggling to breathe or have sudden shortness of breath
- Your chest feels tight or heavy
- You have a pain that spreads to your arms, back, neck and jaw
PREVENT LUNG INFECTIONS Flare-ups of COPD are sometimes caused by bacterial infections in the lungs. Wash your hands regularly and limit your exposure to sick people to reduce your risk of infection.