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Readers Respond: What Was the Cause of Your Most Recent COPD Exacerbation?

Responses: 60


Updated April 08, 2009

The most common causes of a COPD exacerbation are airway or lung infections and air pollution. But, there are others. What was the cause of your most recent COPD exacerbation? Share Your Story

Camp Surprise: Mold

Went to camp for opening day of hunting. Mold!!! Ended up in hospital with an acute exacerbation that started. Just was hospitalized last spring for 12 days. You just never know whats going to get you!
—Guest Trudy

Living in a Hot Dusty Place

I live in a hot, very dusty place with high humidity but little rain. In early May I started coughing up loads of phlegm, mostly white or clear. In June I became unable to breathe lying down, so could not sleep. I finally gave in and went to see the doctor. Long story short, July 9, 2013 I was diagnosed with "mild" COPD. Already I'm on three inhalers and a nebulizer, what will moderate or severe look like?? It feels now like the bottom half of my lungs is not available, like it was just cut off leaving me with about 50% less lung volume. Can't speak without stopping to breathe. Can't do much of anything without dyspnea (breathlessness). I know I should be exercising... there's no excuse for me not doing it, except that I don't feel I have the energy for it. But I think that's a cop-out. Anyway, I'm not afraid of dying, I am afraid I'll end up like my Aunt Rita who died a horrible lingering death from COPD less than 2 years ago. I'm going to change my living will to reflect new choices!
—Guest Joanie


It always seems that after traveling I become debilitated with a flair-up. This time it may be all the pollens which were unavoidable unless one stays in the house. Temperatures going up and down may be another reason.This time since my nose is running it feels more like a cold. However, tiredness, not being able to walk around, shortness of breath, etc. this time are added to the cold. Fortunately my pulmonologist prescribes antibiotics and prednisone before I go on a trip and in that way I am ready to take meds ASAP.
—Guest Joanne NJ

Air Quality dropped to 6 today

Walked outside for 3 blocks tonight to underground parkade where I'd left my vehicle. Very dusty in parkade. Started coughing so much I wasn't sure I'd be able to drive home. 20 minutes later reached home still coughing, wheezing & choking. Took Robitusin for cough with expectorant. Cannot use steroids ad I get fungal infections. Had pneumonia in Dec. Dr put me on steroids after & within days fungal infection. This disease sucks. Never smoked. Allergies since young. Hang in everyone.
—Guest Joy

Strong Chemicals in the Workplace

New to COPD, but not new to lung problems. I have been an asthmatic all my life and a 40+ year smoker. Most of my jobs have involved the use of strong chemicals, and have been either on a farm or living near farms for years. I also have a rare cancer diagnosis that does go to the lungs more than not. So, will be watching and reading posts for information on exacerbations with much interest. Thank you for sharing your stories.

From Breathing Smoke

Our mobile home caught fire and the blankets, pillows, ect smelled like smoke. Went to ER 2 times. My feet and stomach swelled. Depressed, anxious, can't sleep lying down. Do breathing treatments, steroids and pain meds. ER said heart was ok, lungs ok, but wheezing so. Bad ppl across the room, can hear it...when does this let up?
—Guest tami

Fumes From Mattress Topper

I quit smoking 7 yrs ago but unfortunately I smoked 43 yrs. Just before the Holidays a friend recommended a mattress topper which would allow me to change sheets on bed without having to bend over and/or lift heavy mattress. Topper was shipped to me, opened box, unpacked and smelled strong chemical smell. I should have put it back in box to return but thought maybe once on bed would be ok. One of the biggest mistakes of my life. Consequently, I started feeling bad, tired, shortness of breath more often, and ache in chest. These symptoms just got worse and finally went to pulmonary doctor who prescribed steroids, emergency inhaler, and mucus meds. My shortness of breath got much worse and, then developed worse cough ever had and ended in ER and admitted in to hospital.
—Guest kay

Bacterial Pneumonia and More

I have had four exacerbations in 6 months Three were treated with IV steroids, antibiotics and BiPak at hospital One exacerbation caused by Bacterial Pneumonia I tried to handle them at home doing neb treatnents and 3 Predizone tablets and breathing exercises but nothing worked My back muscles finally gave in and had to be rushed to ER Is there any hope in stopping them or eleviating the symptoms.
—Guest Terry

Kitchen Stove Burner

I just got better after being treated for 3 months for bronchitis with corticosteriod, and Amoxicillin which worked very well after using another antibiotic which only escalated my COPD with the bronchitis then I was put on the Amoxicillin for 10 more days, after 30 days being off and on the corticosteroid 3 to 10 days of antibiotic treatments, I got better to the point where I could breathe deep without coughing or wheezing! The same evening my daughter-in-law turned on a stove top burner that burned off perhaps some cleaning chemical or spilled over food. Today I can't breathe deep and I'm hoarse, coughing throat feels funny, having trembles, just feeling sad, uncertain as to where this will put my already deteriorating health.
—Guest Rita

Dust and a Poor Mask

I work in the construction where I feel my health issue can be traced back to a single mistake; knocking down an Edwardian ceiling in a particularly dirty house. I became trapped in the room with the dust and a poor mask. After 18 months of debilitating heath I was told I am asthmatic. I feel that I have organisms in me and that the medical world prefer to assess my health issue as asthma I wish I felt in agreement. I read once that if organisms enter the lung they can adapt to the lung and propagate. It stated that only an extended course of steroids can exercise these mites. Are the Doctor's right am I just asthmatic?
—Guest Pat

Lack of Meds

Mine resulted from lack of medications and poor air quality this past summer.
—Guest Diann

Cat Dander & Litter Box Odor

Cat accross the hall. Dander and litter box. Smell is horrid and landlord ignores me when I complain. My exacerbations have been comming more frequent since the people w/cat moved in. Now I have wattery, itchy eyes, raspy cough, talk with heavy breath after each word. Nebulizer treatment helps, but only for a while. Landlord won't do anything so I'm going to take action legally, this is a 'no pet' building.
—Guest Cami

Unknown Cause

I just went through this a few months ago and I have no idea what is causing it. This time it is worse. Just to walk to bathroom and I can't breathe; I just gasp for air. Been in hospital twice this past week. They placed me on antiboictics, O2 therpy, IV fluids and attempted to open my airways. Today I feel bad again and about ready to go back to be hospitalized. This time I won't leave until my body is able to leave. It's either a home nurse or hospital, but the VA needs to let me have home oxygen.
—Guest Jim Bryan

Don't Get Them Anymore

I'm living in Nicaragua. For some unknown reason, I don't get excessive flem or pneumonia like I do in the Northern U.S. states. Sir quality here is not that good. We burn much of our trash here. We use a plastic bag to light the fire. Many people here use wood stoves for cooking. I lived in Matamoros Mexico and my breathing was OK there. I worked in Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and several other states and always became sick. Most of my work was in the farmlands and sparsely populated areas. Guaranteed every winter I would be in the hospital. We have no winters in Nicaragua. Whatever causes my "exacerbations" be it virus or Bacteria, it doesn't live down here. I do dumb things. I tried to quit using my meds (Advair and Spiriva) and my breathing became very tight and short winded but not much flem. I'm back on my meds now and the flem has increased. Not much but more than usual for this area. It's nothing like the congestion I had in the states. Thanks... Dustyguy

A Mix of Things

It was a mix of cleaning products and heat. I vomited and couldn't eat. On top of that, I had fatigue and shortness of breath. All I did was stay in bed, took my meds, my whole body just hurting. I should just stay home. This started when I went out.
—Guest billie

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What Was the Cause of Your Most Recent COPD Exacerbation?

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