A look at the most common symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
COPD is a potentially dangerous condition that requires careful management to maintain the best possible health. Many people have COPD and are not aware of it since the symptoms are not always present at all or until considerable lung damage has occurred. It is critical to have proper disease management if you have COPD. Know the COPD symptoms and signs in order to best manage your health care.
COPD symptoms. Everyone is different. People living with COPD are no exception. Symptoms can range from mild to severe or be non-existent, state the Mayo Clinic. Usually symptoms only occur until the COPD has advanced enough for there to be substantial lung damage. People may or may not have all the common symptoms at once or only one at a time. These symptoms include:
- Chronic cough — An ongoing cough that you just can’t shake, one that causes large amounts of mucus, is a sign of COPD. This cough may be referred to as “smoker’s cough.”
- Shortness of breath — Having trouble catching your breath or talking, especially with physical activity, is a COPD symptom.
- Wheezing — Breathing that produces a whistle, rattle or squeak might be a sign of COPD.
- Chest tightness — A common sign of COPD is a constricted, stiff feeling in the chest or chest tightness.
Severe COPD symptoms. More advanced COPD can result in additional symptoms. These are signs that your COPD is serious and you are need treatment at a hospital or even emergency care. These symptoms include:
- Blue lips or fingernails — When you have low oxygen levels in the blood, you may develop a bluish or gray tinge to your lips and fingernails.
- Alertness — Being not mentally alert is a sign of advanced COPD.
- Heart rate — Very fast heartbeat may be a symptom of severe COPD.
- Recommended treatment not helpful — If you are not responding to treatment for symptoms, this may be a sign of advanced COPD.
COPD symptoms are progressive. COPD does not go away, as there is no cure at this time. COPD symptoms typically get worse over time. The signs of COPD can come and go in episodes or flare-ups when the symptoms get suddenly much worse.