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    COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - When to Call a Doctor

    Call 911 or other emergency services now if:

    Call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have been diagnosed with COPD and you:

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    • Cough up 0.5 cup (120 mL) or more of blood.
    • Have shortness of breath or wheezing that is quickly getting worse.
    • Start having new chest pain.
    • Are coughing more deeply or more often, especially if you notice an increase in mucus (sputum) or a change in the color of the mucus you cough up.
    • Have increased swelling in your legs or belly.
    • Have a high fever [over 101°F (38.3°C)].
    • Develop flu-like symptoms.

    If your symptoms (cough, mucus, and/or shortness of breath) suddenly get worse and stay worse, you may be having a COPD flare-up, or exacerbation. Quick treatment for a flare-up may help keep you out of the hospital.

    Call your doctor soon for an appointment if:

    • Your medicine is not working as well as it had been.
    • Your symptoms are slowly getting worse, and you have not seen a doctor recently.
    • You have a cold and:
      • Your fever lasts longer than 2 to 3 days.
      • Breathlessness occurs or becomes noticeably worse.
      • Your cough gets worse.
    • You have not been diagnosed with COPD but are having symptoms. A history of smoking (even in the past) greatly increases the likelihood that symptoms are from COPD.
    • You cough up any amount of blood.

    Talk to your doctor

    If you have been diagnosed with COPD, talk with your doctor at your next regular appointment about:

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