The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Are you coughing a lot more or experiencing a mild case of wheezing? It might be nothing, but then again, it could be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The American Lung Association (ALA)estimates that more than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPDand another 12 million likely have the condition but are unaware of it. Could you be one of them? Are you displaying any symptoms of COPD?
What are the Symptoms of COPD?
Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to tell if someone has COPD or not. Some of the symptoms of COPD are very similar to the symptoms of other conditions, like chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Initially when symptoms first occur, many people will tend to ignore them. They think their symptoms are related to something less serious. Symptoms of COPD don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred. If you’re a smoker or have had frequent exposure to other irritants like second-hand smoke, air pollution or workplace fumes, you’re at a much higher risk for developing COPD.
Your doctor will give you tests—such as measuring your breathing volume or X-raying your chest—to determine if you have COPD. Although only a doctor can diagnose COPD, there are certain warning signs that you can look out for when it comes to the symptoms of COPD.
According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), these are the most common symptoms associated with COPD:
During the day, persistent coughing will often occur at various times. Although the lungs are responding typically to irritation, a chronic cough is an indication that the lungs aren’t functioning normally. A cough of this type is often confused with a “smoker’s cough.”
Your lungs will produce additional mucus to trap or keep inhaled particles out. Constant attacks from smoking and other irritants can lead to the production of up to three times the normal amount of mucus.
Shortness of Breath
You may experience a feeling of breathlessness when your lungs sense that it takes more effort than usual to move air in and out. This can be caused by decreased blood oxygen level and one of the common symptoms of COPD.
Wheezing results from breathing through narrow, obstructed airways. Inflammation and irritation from years of smoking can lead to excess mucus that obstructs airways and causes spasms that narrow them. Wheezing may also indicate that an infection has developed in your lungs.
A loss of energy or stamina may often accompany other moderate symptoms of COPD.
Flare-ups of the above symptoms can occur and are a frequent occurrence associated with COPD.
COPD is a life-threatening illness that can’t be cured, but can be effectively treated. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are crucial to helping control symptoms of COPD. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COPD, then contact us at the Lung Institute or call (800) 729-3065 today.