Welcome to Your COPD Flare-Up Resource

From your answers in the quiz, it seems like you may be at risk of experiencing a COPD flare-up (also called an exacerbation).

We’re here to give you the information you need to understand what they are, how they could impact your life, treatment options to discuss with your doctor, and tips and tricks to help you manage COPD flare-ups.


Learn More

How to Talk to Your Doctor

Let’s start with how to talk with your doctor about your COPD. You can click the DOWNLOAD button to download, print, and fill out a discussion guide to bring to your next appointment. While you’re doing that, consider some of the following questions that could help the discussion:

Which of your COPD flare-up symptoms have worsened over a couple of days? Symptoms would be things such as shortness of breath, excessive coughing, or increased mucus.


How have these symptoms impacted your life? Are you avoiding things you typically do with your family and friends because of the symptoms? Are you changing everyday activities because they’ve become too hard? Are normal errands now more difficult?


Which signs and symptoms do you experience regularly? These could be increased rescue inhaler usage, suffering frequent respiratory infections, or needing emergency care.

Managing COPD

One possible treatment you could ask for is a triple therapy, which uses a combination of three medicines to help manage COPD. Find out more about one triple-therapy option.


What is COPD Flare-Up?

When your COPD symptoms get worse for a couple of days and require some kind of treatment, that could be a COPD flare-up.
Learning to identify the symptoms of COPD flare-ups can empower you to prevent them.


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Here are some examples of COPD flare-up symptoms.
Use this language when talking to your doctor to help figure out the right next step for you in your COPD journey:

Mild flare-up

Moderate flare-up

Severe flare-up

It’s helpful to know not all COPD flare-ups are the same. There are different severities, but experiencing a COPD flare-up can make you more likely to have more in the future.


Mild COPD flare-ups are those needing treatment with short acting bronchodilators only (SABDs), also known as rescue inhalers. Moderate COPD flare-ups are those needing treatment with SABDs plus oral corticosteroids and/or antibiotics. Severe COPD flare-ups are those requiring hospitalization or visits to the ER, and they may also be associated with acute respiratory failure. You should speak to your doctor if you have additional questions about flare-ups or your current treatments.

COPD Flare-Up Tips and Tricks

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a COPD flare-up is the first step in preventing them. The second is talking to your doctor about things you can do at home to help avoid them:


  1. 1.Be mindful of how you feel before a COPD flare-up occurs. Recognizing symptoms early may help you get treatment quicker and prevent more damage.
  2. 2.Avoid triggers by staying indoors during hot, humid weather, avoiding pollen or pollution, or covering your nose and mouth when it’s cold outside.
  3. 3.Try breathing exercises to alleviate symptoms at home. One example is pursed-lip breathing: inhale through your nose, purse your lips like you’re blowing out a candle, then exhale slowly through your pursed lips.


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If you experience a COPD flare-up, you should follow your COPD treatment plan, including the use of your medicines, provided by your doctor. You could also try pursed-lip breathing to help bring your breathing under control.

However, if your symptoms don’t get better within 24 hours or worsen, make sure to call your doctor or go to the hospital.

COPD and COPD flare-ups don’t have to control your life. By listening to symptoms, working closely with your doctor, and taking an active role in managing your condition, it’s possible to maintain daily activities with COPD.

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