Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms can worsen suddenly. You may find it hard to breathe. You may cough or wheeze more or produce more phlegm. You might also feel anxious and have trouble sleeping or doing your daily activities. This problem is called a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation, or COPD flare-up.
Certain illnesses, colds, and lung infections from viruses or bacteria can lead to flare-ups. Other causes may include:
- Being around smoke or other pollutants
- Weather changes
- Doing too much activity
- Being run-down
- Feeling stressed or anxious
You can often manage a flare-up right away with medicines and self-care. Work with your doctor on an action plan for COPD exacerbations so that you know what to do.
Get to know your usual symptoms, sleep patterns, and when you have good or bad days. This can help you learn the difference between your normal symptoms and signs of a COPD flare-up.