Recognize COPD Flare-Ups
What are flare-ups of COPD symptoms?
Flare-ups of COPD symptoms are called exacerbations (ig-zas-er-BAY-shuns).
These are times when your COPD symptoms are significantly worse than usual. Some
symptoms typical of COPD are:
- Cough, including a persistent cough that brings up mucus or phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
During an exacerbation, these symptoms become much worse. Some people also experience
changes in the thickness or color of their mucus, and possibly a fever.
COPD exacerbations can be serious events
COPD is classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Exacerbations are described
using the same terms, depending on the treatment that is required for you to feel
- With mild COPD exacerbations, patients may use their rescue inhaler more frequently
- Moderate COPD exacerbations often require a visit to the doctor’s office to be treated
with oral steroids or antibiotics
- Severe COPD exacerbations can lead to hospitalization
People with severe COPD can have exacerbations that are mild, moderate, or severe.
However, if your COPD is more severe, exacerbations typically happen more often
and are more severe. There are medications that can help reduce your risk of moderate
or severe exacerbations.