17 Warning Signs of COPD Exacerbations

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by Wendy Henderson |

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If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you’ll know just how much a flare or exacerbation can affect you. Knowing when an exacerbation is about to occur is key and recognizing the early warning signs can make a big difference in how quickly you can be treated. Quick treatment can help you get over a flare faster and hopefully keep you out of the hospital. Working with your healthcare team, you can devise a plan of action whereby you know when you need to seek help and what first steps to take to treat an exacerbation before it becomes too severe.

MORE: Nine important dos and don’ts for people with COPD

Here are some of the early warning signs of an exacerbation according to the COPD Foundation and WebMD.

  • Coughing more than you normally do
  • Wheezing more than you normally do
  • Gurgling or rattled breathing
  • Experiencing more shortness of breath
  • Experiencing more shallow breathing or rapid breathing
  • Producing more mucus than usual
  • Change in the color of the mucus from clear to green, yellow, tan or bloody
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Swelling of the ankles and/or feet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blue tinge to lips or fingertips
  • Skin yellowing or graying
  • Difficulty talking
  • Headaches first thing in the morning
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain

MORE: 10 questions for your doctor or nurse about COPD

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