Story by: Sara Thompson on November 22, 2022
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to disorders that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related issues. The classic symptoms of COPD include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and trouble taking deep breaths. The signs of COPD getting worse could mean you are having a COPD exacerbation.
A COPD exacerbation is sometimes called a flare-up. When symptoms of COPD become worse quickly, it might be an exacerbation. Exacerbations may be triggered by severe allergies, a common cold or a sinus infection.
“If your symptoms become severe, even for a short time, it’s a good idea to tell your health care provider as soon as possible,” said Josephine Mei, M.D., pulmonologist with Norton Pulmonary Specialists.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is treatable, especially when diagnosed early. If you experience shortness of breath, frequent cough or wheezing, talk to your health care provider.
“Stopping smoking is the most important step if you have COPD,” Dr. Mei said. “That includes staying away from other people who are smoking.” Dr. Mei also advises monitoring weather alerts so you can reduce exposure to the outdoors on poor air quality days.
Some genetic reasons contribute to developing COPD. Be sure to give your health care provider a full health history, in case those genetic conditions can be caught early and possibly slow or stop the onset of COPD.
You also should stay current on your vaccinations such as flu, pneumonia and COVID-19. Talk to your health care provider about medications and exercise programs that can help you stay healthier longer.
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