Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of diseases that cause a blockage of airflow and affect breathing. COPD causes symptoms that worsen and improve in cycles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COPD was the fourth leading cause of death in the United States in 2018. About 15.7 million people in the country have received a diagnosis of the disease.
People with COPD can experience exacerbations, or flare-ups, during which their symptoms worsen for a period. Flare-ups may be the result of certain avoidable triggers, and they can be less severe if a person begins to treat them during the early stages.
In this article, we explain what a COPD flare-up is, how long it may last, and when a person should seek help. We also look at how to manage and prevent COPD flare-ups.