Managing COPD shortness of breath and flare-ups

What are COPD flare-ups and how will they affect me?

COPD Flare-ups are periods when COPD symptoms suddenly get worse and breathing becomes more difficult. They can be triggered by infections or other causes like the weather and stress. You can use breathing techniques and other relaxation methods to avoid flare-ups¹⁻³.

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

Firstly, don't panic. This will only make the flare-up worse. Follow your prescribed therapy plan and try to relax. If your therapy isn't relieving the symptoms ask somebody to take you to the emergency room, or call 911 if you are really struggling to breathe¹∙².

How can I prevent flare-ups & what are the causes of COPD flare-ups?

The most common causes of COPD flare-ups are stress, infections and environmental triggers like air pollution and allergens. It’s vital that you work with your doctor to create an action plan, so you know exactly what to do to treat the symptoms when they surface¹⁻³.

Smiling gentleman playing cards enjoying the benefits of COPD therapy

COPD Therapy options

There are a variety of treatments available that can help you manage the symptoms of COPD on a daily basis⁴. These therapy options include, but are not limited to, medication medicine delivery systems and supplemental oxygen⁵.


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Elderly gentleman exercising while wearing nasal canula

Diet, exercise and nutrition

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutritious, balanced diet and taking regular exercise can help you to control your symptoms and slow the progression of COPD⁶∙⁷.



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Women reading in the garden

Understanding disease progression

As a progressive disease, the symptoms of COPD that you experience are likely to increase increase in severity over time through four main stages. However, you can manage your symptoms and slow their progression⁸.


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1. Web MD. COPD: Handling a Flare-Up - Topic Overview.
Accessed on 5 August 2015

2. Web MD. COPD Flare-Ups - Topic Overview.
Accessed on 5 August 2015

3. Healthline. The Link Between COPD Flare-Ups and Stress Management
Accessed on 5 August 2015

4. Web MD. COPD treatments, improving your quality of life. Available at:
Accessed on 19 June 2015

5. American Lung Association. Treatment options.
Available at:
Accessed on 4 August 2015

6. Exercise and COPD: A Good Combination. 
Accessed on 20 May 2015

7. Eating to Breathe Better. 
Accessed on 20 May 2015

8. Healthline. COPD: Symptoms and Stages. 
Accessed on 6 June 2015


For informational purposes only, not to replace physician's directions.