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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

10 Signs of a COPD Exacerbation

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Warning signs of a COPD exacerbation may include: continued...

6.     Changes in skin or nail color. During an exacerbation, there may be noticeable changes in color, such as a bluish tint around the lips. You may also notice blue or purple nails, or the skin may take on a sallow or gray tone.

7.     Difficulty sleeping and no interest in eating. The increased symptoms with a COPD exacerbation may interfere with the ability to sleep or eat.

8.     Lack of speech. Someone experiencing great breathing distress may not be able to speak to let others know. Using hand gestures may be the only way to tell a family member that something is wrong.

9.     Early morning headaches. In people with COPD, low oxygen levels can result in morning headaches. The headaches are caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. If morning headaches are a new symptom, it could be a sign of a COPD exacerbation.

10.  Swelling in the ankles or legs or abdominal pain. Swelling and abdominal pain are common COPD symptoms. They are associated with heart complications or irregularities caused by damage to the lungs. If these symptoms are new, or if they increase suddenly, they could be a sign of an exacerbation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on October 18, 2012
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