What Is A COPD Flare-up?

COPD flare-ups happen when a patient’s symptoms suddenly get much worse and cannot be relieved with their regular medications. The most common cause of COPD flare-ups is a respiratory infection. Patients and their healthcare providers can put together an action plan for how to deal with flare-ups. Sometimes, they can be treated at home. In other cases, the flare-up is so severe that it needs to be treated in the hospital.

If the flare-up is caused by a bacterial infection, then it will usually be treated with antibiotics. Rescue inhalers and nebulizer treatments are often used to help relieve severe breathlessness. Sometimes, patients will need to be treated with short-term steroids or oxygen therapy.

The treatment guidelines recommend people with COPD get vaccinated for influenza (flu) and pnuemonia to prevent these common infections that can cause flares of COPD.


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