How to spot COPD flare-ups
Many COPD flare-ups are due to an infection. They can put you at risk of hospitalization.
Learn how to spot them early on.
COPD flare-ups: How to spot trouble
If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), symptom flare-ups could put you in the hospital. However, knowing the warning signs of a flare-up can help you take action to protect your health.
Learn how to spot a flare-up.
- Increased mucus.
- Mucus that is yellow, green, tan or bloody.
- Wheezing or increased wheezing.
- Increased coughing.
- Increased shortness of breath.
- Shallow or rapid breathing that's worse than usual.
- Swelling in your feet or ankles.
- Don't smoke. And avoid other triggers, like pollution and dust or fumes at work.
- See your doctor and dentist regularly, even when you feel fine.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Ask a healthcare provider about pneumonia and pertussis shots.
- Avoid crowds during cold and flu season to lower your risk of infection.
- Drink plenty of water to help keep mucus thin and prevent it from building up in your lungs.
- Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer to keep germs away.
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose to prevent infection.
- Get plenty of sleep, because you're more likely to get sick when you're tired.
Handling a flare-up:
As soon as you experience signs of a COPD flare-up, contact a healthcare provider. He or she may be able to prescribe medications to prevent hospitalization.
Sources: American Lung Association; American Thoracic Society; COPD Foundation
- American Lung Association. "Nutrition and COPD." https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/nutrition#:~:text=Nutrition%20and%20COPD-,Nutrition%20and%20COPD,-The%20right%20mix.
- American Lung Association. "Prevent COPD Exacerbations or Flare Ups." https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/prevent-flare-ups.
- COPD Foundation. "What is an Exacerbation or Flare Up?" https://www.copdfoundation.org/Learn-More/I-am-New-to-COPD/What-is-an-Exacerbation.aspx.
- American Thoracic Society. "Exacerbation of COPD." https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/copd-exacerbation-ecopd.pdf.