Inhaler Quiz
Health Tool

2/3 of patients do not use their inhalers correctly. Incorrect usage of inhalers can be a significant problem for COPD patients. Assess your inhaler.

What is a COPD flare-up?

COPD flare-ups (also called COPD exacerbations) are times when your symptoms get noticeably worse or when new symptoms appear.

Flare-ups may be brought on by a chest infection from a cold or the flu, or they may be triggered by air pollution or allergies.

It's important to tell your doctor about any flare-up, chest infection, or attack of breathlessness you experience.

What are the warning signs of a COPD flare-up (COPD exacerbation)?

You need to know the signs of a COPD flare-up and treat them seriously. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of COPD flare-ups can better empower you to respond to them.

Warning signs of a COPD flare-up include:

  • more shortness of breath
  • more coughing
  • more mucus
  • a change in the colour or thickness of your mucus
  • fever or symptoms of a cold (such as runny nose, sore throat, or headache)
  • swollen ankles
  • fatigue and feeling sick

5 warning signs of a severe COPD flare-up

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any one of these symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • blue lips or fingers
  • confused thinking or agitation
  • drowsiness during waking hours
  • extreme shortness of breath

What should I do if I have a COPD flare-up?

Because flare-ups are a serious medical condition, make sure to tell your doctor about any change in your condition. Get your personalized Doctor Discussion Guide to help prepare for your visit.

  • Follow the steps in your written COPD Action PlanTM or call your doctor if your symptoms are getting worse. Go to a hospital emergency department if you can't reach your doctor.
  • If you have any of the 5 warning signs of a severe flare-up, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you have COPD, take the COPD Assessment TestTM to see how well it is being managed and speak to your doctor about your COPD treatment plan. Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your visit.

COPD Action PlanTM is a trademark of the Canadian Thoracic Society.