Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious condition causing lung inflammation that obstructs the airflow, making it particularly difficult to breathe.
Typically, a COPD flare-up would indicate a worsening of the condition and can increase the risk of lung damage. Because of this reason, it is best to join a pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD program where you can learn how you manage your condition the best to avoid flare-ups in the future. However, you must always be aware of the early warning signs of COPD flare-ups if you want to protect yourself from further damage.
Identifying a COPD Flare-Up
Apart from COPD, other illnesses, such as pneumonia, allergies, COVID-19, and the flu, could affect the way you breathe. However, there are a few ways you could identify the cause of your symptoms.
While pneumonia and the flu can lead to a phlegmy cough, similar to COPD, you’ll experience shortness of breath and wheezing when having allergies. If your breathing difficulties result from allergies, avoiding allergens or taking allergy medication could help enhance your symptoms in a couple of days.
COVID-19 could also cause breathing problems, ranging between mild and severe. If you see that coughing and breathing issues are accompanied by fever, chills, congestion, fatigue, sore throat, sneezing, and a runny nose, your symptoms could be associated with the flu or COVID-19 instead of being a COPD flare-up.
It’s not easy to understand which illness is behind your symptoms, especially when the symptoms appear to be so similar. Another way you can differentiate between COVID-19 and the flu is the loss of smell or taste.
You must remember that respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, pneumonia, the flu, and other viruses can cause serious breathing and lung problems that can lead to COPD flare-ups.
Preventing COPD Flare-Ups
The best way to prevent COPD flare-ups is to stay as healthy as possible. You should seriously consider enrolling in a rehabilitation programme if you haven’t already. The good news is that you can also seek virtual cardiac rehab in the comfort of your home to learn more about your illness and ways to manage it effectively.
Other than that, there are a few things you should remember to prevent recurrences. Let’s take a quick look at them –
Recognizing the Flare-Up Signs
Early warning indications may include increased mucus production, increased coughing, difficulty breathing deeply, fatigue, poor sleep, or swelling ankles or legs. Follow the directions provided to you by your doctor when you have these symptoms since your doctor would have suggested a treatment plan.
Staying Up-to-Date with Your Vaccinations
When you have the flu or pneumonia, you risk developing life-threatening complications. Because of this reason, it is only wise to take your vaccine shots to lower the risk as much as possible.
You’re much more likely to catch a virus in a crowded space. Thus, it is advisable to keep away from congested places and not think twice before rescheduling appointments with family members or friends whenever they’re ill. It is now more critical than ever, especially when the COVID-19 virus can spread easily among people in close contact.
Staying Away from Pollutants and Smoke
Pollution can never be good for your health, so make sure you check the air quality before venturing outside. Avoid visiting a location if you notice that there is a lot of pollution there. Similar, smoke of any kind, such as a grill, campfire, or cigarette, can also trigger flare-ups. So, you must stay away from them as well.
Wearing a Mask
If you practice wearing a mask to cover your nose and mouth with social distancing, you can avoid catching the flu, COVID-19, and any other kind of respiratory disease.
Avoiding Touching Your Face
Most people touch their faces without even realizing it throughout the day. According to an Australian study, participants touched their faces at least 23 times in only an hour. It’s bad news for all of us because our hands can easily transfer germs from contaminated objects to the nose, eyes, or mouth whenever we touch them. Hence, it is a good habit to practice consciously keeping your hands away from the face. You must also practice using a hand sanitiser or washing your hands frequently to avoid getting sick.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
You must focus on maintaining your best health to keep flare-ups at bay. Consume alcohol in moderation, don’t smoke, and include foods that offer essential nutrients to your body. In addition, regular exercise is also a must to improve shortness of breath.
Even after taking all the precautions, a flare-up can still occur. Call your doctor right away if you realise that your symptoms haven’t improved after a day or two. Ask someone to drive you to the ER or dial 911 if you experience extreme dyspnea, chest pain, blue lips or fingers, confusion, or an inability to speak in whole phrases.