Alphas often have flare-ups (exacerbations). You have a number of options for treating flare-ups that may¬†ease your symptoms. It’s very important to know all your options. This helps you and your doctor create a treatment plan that suits you best.

Download Treating Flare-Ups (Exacerbations) as a PDF.

Staying on top of your treatment plan every day is vital to your comfort and health. So read on about the following treatment options. And, be sure to talk to your doctor about them.

Medicines for treating flare-ups may include:

What they are What they do
Short-acting beta-agonists (SABA) and short-acting muscarinic antagonists (SAMA) Increased doses of SABA and SAMA medicines in an inhaler or nebulizer will help open up narrow airways.
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS)
Prevent flare-ups or help make them less severe. (However, starting these medicines won’t improve current symptoms.)
Antibiotics Stop infection and reduce further lung damage or secondary infections, if taken at the first sign of symptoms.
Expectorants Help loosen and push mucus out of your airways. Then can help you breathe more easily.
Oral corticosteroids (OCS) Early use of high-dose oral steroids can stop a flare-up or make it less severe.


If you go to the emergency room during a flare-up, you may receive oxygen therapy.

You may need oxygen therapy during a flare-up if your oxygen levels are less than 88% saturated. Your arterial blood gases should be checked 30 minutes after you start the oxygen therapy. This ensures that you’re getting enough oxygen without retaining carbon dioxide. (Note: Venturi masks are more accurate sources of controlled oxygen than are nasal prongs.)

You may not be able to prevent flare-ups when you have Alpha-1 COPD, but you can treat them. Work with your doctor to create a care plan. This may include

Following your care plan will make all the difference in how you feel and how much you can do.

For more in-depth information on this topic, please visit the Big Fat Reference Guide (BFRG). If you are enrolled in AlphaNet’s Subscriber Portal, you can access the BFRG here.

Download Treating Flare-Ups (Exacerbations) as a PDF.


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