A COPD flare-up or lung attack happens when usual COPD symptoms get worse over a short period of time (a few hours to 48 hours), or when new symptoms develop. Flare-ups are also called exacerbations.
77% of COPD patients have experienced exacerbations leading to an increased risk of hospitalization and disease progression2. According to Canadian data, 1 in 5 patients hospitalized for a COPD exacerbation require re-hospitalization within 30 days3.
A flare-up can be caused by a lung infection, such as a cold or the flu, smoking and exposure to air pollution, including second hand smoke. If you have COPD, it is important to prevent flare-ups and understand the signs and symptoms of flare-ups. A COPD flare-up may cause further damage to your lungs. To manage your COPD, you need to know:
- how to prevent flare-ups
- warning signs and symptoms of a flare-up
- what to do if you have a flare-up, including when to get emergency help