Your coughing gets extremely heavy, you feel excessively tired, and suddenly your breath is even shallower than what’s normal for you – even with your COPD.
These are all signs that you may be having a flare-up, or what’s called an acute exacerbation of COPD. It’s a common occurrence where your lungs become increasingly inflamed due to illness or irritation.
As you realize, living with COPD life doesn’t mean life comes to a stop. There are just certain precautions you must take to ensure you live a stronger, healthier life – including oxygen therapy.
What causes a COPD exacerbation
There’s no single cause of these flare-ups. Infections, pollution, dusts, allergens, climate change, and smoke can all affect your lung health. That’s why it’s important to recognize the early signs and take preventative measures.
Your early warning signs may include increased levels of:
- Shortness of breath or shallow breathing
- Coughing and wheezing
- Tightness in your chest
- Excessive mucus production
- Sleepiness, lethargy, or confusion
Please consult your physician for any type of change in symptoms, but also consider that there are ways you can get a jump on it and maintain your health.
Make avoiding infections your top priority
Simply put, taking better care of yourself is always advisable to reduce your risks of having a COPD exacerbation. Supplemental oxygen helps you stabilize your symptoms by opening your air passages, making it easier to breathe.
Most COPD sufferers will face an exacerbation of some degree at least once per year, according to COPD research. Avoiding such a flare-up is not just about active living either. It’s important to be aware that your COPD symptoms can progress more each time it happens. An exacerbation may worsen and progress into a hospitalized illness such as pneumonia.
Oxygen therapy, a cleaner and healthier breath
Most patients who experience an acute COPD exacerbation will require supplemental oxygen – that’s true even if you don’t use it regularly.
Having COPD means you already have an extreme sensitivity to air quality. Oxygen therapy is among the best preventative measures for avoiding exacerbation. It helps you maintain a clean, healthy breath. You’re also using less energy while breathing, allowing your lung inflammation to heal.
There are many portable oxygen concentrators available, including those from Precision Medical. Please consider your health and mobility needs when choosing the right solution for yourself.
Other keys to staying healthy
The COPD Foundation suggests the following tips to help you avoid acute exacerbations:
- See your healthcare professional at your regularly scheduled appointment even if you feel fine
- Get your flu shot every year. Local pharmacies and grocery stores often offer these shots for free at the start of flu season
- Check if you are due for a pneumonia and pertussis shot
- Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with warm water and mild soap
- Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer for when you cannot wash your hands
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose in public to help prevent germs from entering your body
- Stay away from crowds, especially during cold and flu season
- Use your own pen, especially when signing in at your HCP’s office or other health appointments
- Get plenty of sleep. When your body is tired, you’re more likely to get sick
- Drink plenty of water. Thick sticky mucus is more likely to get stuck in your lungs and cause problems
Check-in with your doctor
You may experience different grades of COPD exacerbation, from mild to severe. If not treated early and appropriately your symptoms may go from bad to worse, so consult your doctor at the onset of a flare-up. Having frequent healthcare check-ups and living a healthy lifestyle will go a long way toward living a better life with your COPD.
More information on oxygen concentrators
Remember, Precision Medical provides oxygen concentrators that can help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle with your COPD.