COPD Action Plan
If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your usual shortness of breath could suddenly get worse. You may start coughing more and have more mucus. This flare-up is called a COPD exacerbation (say “ig-ZAS-ur-BAY-shun”).
A lung infection or air pollution could set off an exacerbation. Sometimes it can happen after a quick change in temperature or being around chemicals.
Work with your doctor to make a plan for dealing with an exacerbation. You can better manage it if you plan ahead.
Why should you have a COPD action plan?
With COPD, your usual shortness of breath could suddenly get worse. You may start coughing more and have more mucus. This is called a flare-up. Work with your doctor to make an action plan for dealing with flare-ups. This way you'll know what to do quickly so you can manage them better.
COPD action plan: When to call
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You have severe trouble breathing.
- You have severe chest pain.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse shortness of breath.
- You develop new chest pain.
- You are coughing more deeply or more often, especially if you notice more mucus or a change in the color of your mucus.
- You cough up blood.
- You have new or increased swelling in your legs or belly.
- You have a fever.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You need to use your antibiotic or steroid pills.
- Your symptoms are getting worse.