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6 Warning Signs of a COPD Flare-Up


Paige Greenfield

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This content is selected and managed by the Healthgrades editorial staff and is brought to you by an advertising sponsor.

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

Can't Stop Coughing?

When you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it's important to know when you're experiencing a flare-up so you can get treatment as quickly as possible. One thing to consider is the severity of your symptoms. Coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in your chest are all symptoms of COPD in general. If any of them worsens, call your doctor.

It's also important to call your doctor if you have a fever, which may indicate an infection such as pneumonia or the flu. Your doctor may need to switch or adjust your medications to help you feel better.

Watch Out for These 6 Symptoms

A severe flare-up may mean you should go to a hospital. If you experience any of these six symptoms, seek immediate care:

  1. You're having trouble catching your breath.

  2. You're experiencing difficulty talking.

  3. Your lips or fingernails have a blue or grayish hue. This may mean oxygen levels in your blood are low.

  4. You can't think clearly.

  5. Your heart is racing.

  6. Your treatment plan for symptoms when they get worse isn't helping.

Preparation Is Key

With COPD, it's important to be prepared for emergencies. A flare-up can happen at any time. Keep phone numbers for your doctor, hospital, and a friend or family member who can take you for immediate care available at all times. Post the numbers on your refrigerator or near a phone at home, and store them in your mobile phone. Always keep a list of the medications you take on hand, too.

Being prepared for an emergency increases the likelihood that you'll receive the speedy medical attention you need when it matters most.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jun 12, 2017

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Living With COPD. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health.
  2. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of COPD? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health

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