How we re-build strength after an exacerbation can leave us exhausted for longer than we thought possible.  Having an exacerbation can lead to muscle wasting, diminished energy and taking the wind out of your sails.  Often we feel that we are starting at the beginning again, which is exactly what we are doing. Exacerbation rob’s us of all of our strength and strips us of all the hard work that we have accomplished. It can be very disheartening because no matter how hard we want ourselves to stay well, we really have no control over the germs that attack our weakened lungs.

What is an Exacerbation or Flare Up?

Exacerbation, referred to as a worsening of symptoms and it means something different to all of us. Some of us begin with headaches due to low oxygen levels or coughing excessively while experiencing an increased shortness of breath. For others, it can mean increased fatigue with an increase in mucus production. If an increase in mucus and sputum occurs, its colour can go from clear to yellow and then greenish brown.

A darkening of sputum colour usually means that an infection is active and that you need to be on guard. Having a fever usually means that an infection has started. When you need extra pillows so you can sleep in an upright position, it is a good sign that something bad is happening.

Our Responsibility to Re-Building Strength

We are responsible to know our own illness, and know when it is time to react to what we are feeling. Usually, exacerbation requires an increase in normal medications and the use of rescue medications that could include extra puffer, antibiotics and steroids. We also have to learn to give ourselves permission to take extra rests throughout the day and pace ourselves a bit more.

Sometimes it is time to ask for more help and it is up to us to know when that is, who to call and how to do that. This means that you check your symptoms and have to autonomy to self-regulation based on your opinion without needing the approval of the doctor. It is having a standing prescription for you ACTION PLAN that should include a dosage of antibiotics and steroids.

Self Management and Re-Building

Become a willing participant in your health and wellness by speaking up to your doctor and advocating for yourself. By keeping a journal of your symptoms and how changes in you conditions happen. the proof is in the pudding. Having all the details written down and properly tracked helps doctors to understand, on their own level, the why’s and how’s. It is up to us to keep current information on any medication changes and changes in doctors.

Ask all your doctors to work as a team on your behalf.  Remember that by practicing Mindfulness and Meditation we learn to control the things that are happening in our environment.

To Start Recovery and Re-Building with Diet

Watch your diet and keep up your vitamin and mineral intake. Remember that your heart is a potassium, magnesium pump and without proper nutrients, you heart cannot support your lungs. I like homemade soups because I get the soul saving benefits of soup with all my vitamins and minerals from the veggies, legumes and beans I add to it.

Don’t spare the liquids, they help to thin mucus production. Continue with fresh fruits and stay away from starchy and sugary food.

Exercise is the First Step to Re-Building

Easing back into exercise means keeping your regular schedule. You may not have the same endurance you had before this exacerbation, hence the easing in part. We all have a tendency to want everything to be the same as it was. We forget the stress that has been placed on our body with each exacerbation. Things cannot be the same because muscle wasting costs us our stamina.


Tips to recovering with intention to stay well in the future:

  • Start a Smoking cessation programs and stay away from vaping as an alternative.
  • Talk to your doctor about a session of Respiratory Rehab.
  • Ask your doctors all the questions you need answers too and stay away from Google.
  • Join a support group, either in person or online, and surround yourself with ‘like people’ who can offer first hand support.

Although daunting to begin over again so many times it is what we must do.  Many of us limp though certain seasons, for some it is winter and for others it is summer, with several setbacks and it can be a very long road with many twists and turns but we must keep going.



Some great information on recovery in this link.

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