What are the symptoms of COPD?

Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, or chronic cough. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstruction of airflow from the lungs.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, or chronic cough. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstruction of airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, mucus (sputum) production, and wheezing. It is usually due to prolonged exposure to irritating gases or particles, most often from cigarette smoke.

People with COPD have a higher risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, and a variety of other conditions. The symptoms of COPD often do not appear until significant lung damage occurs and usually worsen over time, particularly if exposure to tobacco continues. People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms get worse than usual on a day-to-day basis and persist for at least several days. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms do not improve with treatment or get worse, or if you notice symptoms of an infection, such as fever or a change in sputum.

Cold air can cause difficulty breathing. During the winter, try to limit your time outdoors. During the summer, avoid very cold settings in the air conditioning. If your symptoms worsen or you experience a sudden exacerbation of COPD, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

To diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, request your complete medical history, perform a medical examination, and examine test results. If your COPD is more severe or if your symptoms flare up frequently, your doctor may prescribe a combination of medicines that include a bronchodilator and an inhaled steroid. Severe COPD can cause other symptoms, such as swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs, weight loss, and decreased muscle endurance. If you have COPD, especially the most severe forms, you may have trouble eating enough because of symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue.

There are several conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as asthma, bronchiectasis, anemia, and heart failure. Your doctor will diagnose COPD based on your signs and symptoms, your medical and family history, and test results. Many people don't notice any symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the early stages. If you experience any of these symptoms or think you may be at risk for COPD, it's important to discuss it with your doctor.

See a family doctor if you have persistent symptoms of COPD, particularly if you are older than 35 and you smoke or are used to smoking. With proper treatment, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and a good quality of life, as well as reduce the risk of other associated conditions. Learn about spirometry and other diagnostic tests that your doctor may use to diagnose COPD based on your symptoms and risk factors. Although chronic bronchitis is not curable, symptoms can be managed with treatment once the diagnosis is made.

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps improve COPD symptoms and allows you to stay active without difficulty breathing.

Travis Ardaly
Travis Ardaly

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