Symptoms of COPD: Everything You Need to Know

Do you have difficulty breathing when performing physical activities like walking or climbing stairs? Find out if you are at risk for developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The 16 million Americans who struggle to breathe due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been diagnosed with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Many more people have COPD symptoms but aren't getting identified or treatment because of cost or lack of availability. The chronic respiratory disease COPD can severely hinder a person's ability to work and do even routine duties. COPD can exacerbate the severity of illness caused by COVID-19.

Breathing becomes progressively difficult due to the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The problem is that it takes years to develop, and you might not even realize you have it. Until a person reaches his late 40s or early 50s, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms often go unnoticed.

Any combination of the following three conditions constitutes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD):

  • Emphysema
  • Inflammation in the bronchial passages, often known as chronic
  • Asthma with obstruction that doesn't go away

All these things make breathing more complex and worsen over time.

These are the three most prominent signs of COPD:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing up thick, often-colored mucus as you cough (phlegm)

Get in touch with your doctor if you experience more than one of these signs and symptoms.

Early Symptoms

The early stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often go unnoticed. This could be because none exist. In some cases, though, you may be able to spot the precursors if you keep your eyes peeled.

You may discover, for instance, that you have a more challenging time than usual climbing stairs, tending to a garden, or bringing in groceries. You've put on weight, stopped exercising, or caught the sick could all be to blame. However, medical attention is warranted if the symptoms persist without an apparent reason.

Spirometry is a battery of tests that measure how much air you exhale and can be used to diagnose or rule out chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Other Symptoms

Especially if you're a smoker, your symptoms may worsen over time, and you may already have significant lung damage before you recognize any problems. Other potential symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include:

  • Wheezing
  • Fingernails or blue lips
  • Extreme tiredness/ fatigue most or all of the time
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Regular colds
  • Puffy legs, feet, and ankles
  • Constantly needing to clean your throat
  • Congestion in the chest

When Should You Get Medical Help?

Either an infection or a worsening of COPD might cause these signs. Within 24 hours, contact your doctor if you experience:

  • You're having trouble breathing or coughing more than usual.
  • Being short of breath interferes with everyday activities.
  • More mucus than usual is coming up in your cough.
  • The muck might be any shade of yellow, green, or reddish.
  • A temperature of 101 degrees or higher indicates that you are sick.
  • You start to feel faint or dizzy.

If you have been taking your prescribed COPD medication and are still experiencing shortness of breath, you should seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or visiting an emergency facility.

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