If an individual is diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, there are periods of flare-ups or exacerbations.
The COPD exacerbations can be quite concerning since they worsen an already serious condition. When it comes to COPD, any damage to the lungs is usually permanent and might speed up the progression of the disease.
What are the causes?
Viral and bacterial infections of the lungs are the usual triggers for COPD as well as air pollution, smoking, strong odors, exposure to toxic fumes and airborne allergens.
The COPD flare-ups are likely to manifest among individuals who are poorly treated or not following their prescribed course of treatment. Among those who are under treatment, the flare-ups might arise if:
- Smoking is not fully stopped
- Incorrect use of short and long-term inhalers
- Oral drugs are not taken as instructed
- The individual only depends on drug treatment and does not engage in a holistic approach on pulmonary rehabilitation.
What are the signs?
During an acute COPD flare-up, the lung undergoes tightening of the airway passages, increased mucus production and inflammation brought about by the activation of the immune defenses of the body.
The usual signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Increased episodes of coughing with or without mucus
- Changes in the thickness, color or amount of mucus
Management of COPD flare-ups
The COPD flare-ups can be managed with rescue bronchodilators that work by opening the airway passages as well as reducing the inflammation. Other treatment options might be utilized which is based on the phase of COPD and seriousness of the symptoms.