copd signs and symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a disease that affects the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. COPD signs and symptoms typically develop slowly, over a period of many years. Many people don?t realize they have the condition until the disease has already progressed and they have lost a significant amount of lung function.

As the disease gets worse, the first COPD signs and symptoms may become apparent. One of the most obvious symptoms is a cough that doesn?t go away. Often people complain of shortness of breath, especially with exertion such as exercise or climbing stairs. Later, shortness of breath can start to interfere with everyday activities like dressing, bathing, and cooking.

COPD can cause you to cough up more mucus (sputum) than usual. Other COPD signs and symptoms include wheezing?a whistling sound when you breathe?and tightness in the chest.

As the disease progresses, COPD signs and symptoms will increase. The mucus may get thicker in the later stages of COPD. Wheezing and chest tightness occur more frequently, and can interfere with daily life. Additional symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and weight loss, may appear. Some people complain of morning headaches, the result of carbon dioxide buildup in their blood as they sleep.

Any COPD signs and symptoms that can?t be explained by a cold, flu, or other respiratory illness should be reported to a doctor. It?s important to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, because getting early treatment can prevent complications such as respiratory infections, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. People who smoke should work with their doctor to quit. Continued exposure to cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke will irritate the lungs even more and worsen COPD symptoms. Quitting smoking and getting the appropriate treatment can improve both quality of life and life expectancy with COPD.

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