Signs of infection or exacerbation and what to do

3) Amber – looking for changes

Traffic lights showing amber

Look for changes in symptoms

  • Sputum/Phlegm/Glut. This can change in colour, thickness and amount. It can be darker than your normal colour if infection is present, i.e.-yellow to green. There can be more or less of it. An infection can increase the amount or it can become thick and sticky so it’s harder to clear from your chest.
  • Coughing up blood.  When you have an infection you may cough up small amounts of blood, this is not unusual and it should clear up when you feel better. If you continue to have blood in your sputum after you have recovered from an exacerbation or flare up you must speak to your own GP.
  • Cough. You may notice more coughing than usual.
  • Wheeze. You may feel wheezy, or that your chest is tight.
  • Temperature. You may feel hot or shivery.
  • Breathlessness. It may be harder to do your every day activities and they take more effort.
  • Appetite and energy levels reduce.
  • Many people with COPD will find there is one particular thing that tells them when they are becoming unwell – vague pains in the chest or elsewhere, feeling very down. It’s useful if you can identify this for yourself.