Patients with COPD describe feeling short of breath and having trouble “catching their breath”. When your COPD symptoms worsen beyond your normal daily patterns, you are having a “flare-up”, also known as a COPD exacerbation. Some flare-ups are mild and you can manage them with your medications at home. But some flare-ups can be scary because breathing can become extremely difficult – and you may need to seek medical help by calling your doctor or even going to the hospital.
COPD flare-ups can cause further damage to your lungs, making it difficult for you to recover to your “normal” symptom levels. This is why COPD flare-ups can be thought of as “Lung Attacks”. Doctors offer many options to patients with heart disease in order to prevent heart attacks. It is just as important for patients with lung disease to prevent lung attacks. If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, preventing a severe lung attack can help you live a healthier life and reduce your risk of death[1, 2].
COPD medications are drugs that you usually take through your mouth with a specialized inhaler device, or inhaler. Different medications treat different COPD symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough, and mucus build-up. Your doctor may prescribe different medications that can work together to help manage your symptoms. When the medicine wears off, your symptoms may worsen. This is why it is important to use your inhaler every day as prescribed by your doctor.
Patients who continue having flare-ups even while taking their medications may wish to consider participation in a clinical trial. The AIRFLOW-3 Clinical Trial is investigating a procedure, Targeted Lung Denervation (TLD), which may have the potential to reduce the frequency and/or severity of COPD flare-ups.