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Four Ways to Manage a COPD Flare

Photo by coltsfanWhen someone suffers from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) flare, it can be a very uncomfortable and frightening experience. It can be dangerous, too. Research shows that frequent COPD flares can lead to frequent hospitalizations.

It is important that you and your doctor create a plan that outlines specific actions, medications, and dosages to help mitigate and manage the effects of a flare. If you and your doctor are still in the process of creating a plan, here are four ideas to include.

1. Use an inhaler — By sending a powerful stream of medicine straight to restricted lungs, inhalers help quickly relax the tissues in your airways to help you breathe.

2. Take oral corticosteroids — These reduce swelling and help widen your airways, letting more air in and out of your lungs. Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids for a week or more after a flare to help calm down the inflammation.

3. Use an oxygen tank — If you’re using supplemental oxygen at home, feel free to use it during a flare. While putting together a COPD action plan, talk to your doctor about how you can relax and control your breathing while breathing in oxygen.

4. Bring in mechanical intervention — If medications and additional oxygen aren’t working, you may need to bring in outside help. Call an ambulance or have someone do it for you. At the hospital, an intravenous bronchodilator such as theophylline may be used to bring your symptoms under control.An IV will also likely be used to keep you hydrated and administer antibiotics to stave off pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.

Read the full story for more on managing and identifying COPD flares.