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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, commonly known as COPD, is a breathing disorder that occurs in the lungs. Inhaling or exhaling, or sometimes both can be difficult because COPD reduces airflow significantly over time. The primary causes are smoking tobacco, air pollution, and genetic predisposition. If you are over exposed to these factors, you will be at greater risk of dying due to complications of COPD. It is crucial to be aware of the warning signs of COPD; the sooner you identify the disease, the better chance you will have a full recovery. The symptoms may not be apparent in the early stages, so pay attention to these 10 signs of COPD.

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Chronic Cough

A chronic cough is the first symptom of COPD. However, it will most likely go unnoticed or be disregarded as something else. However, as the disease sets in, you will cough excessively for weeks with no comfort in sight. Even though you may get used to the chronic cough, it will continue for months into years. Have you ever heard of the term ‘smoker’s cough?’ People who inhale tobacco products suffer from a rough cough and usually shrug it off; they may not take it seriously or be hesitant to see a doctor. Either way, that chronic cough is a common response to prolonged cigarette exposure. The smoke and other by-products affect your health gravely.

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Mucus

While the chronic cough may be the most common symptom of COPD, the excessive sputum production is the most distinctive characteristic. In other words, you will notice mucus associated with the cough. This sputum might be white, yellowish, or even clear. In rare cases, it may look pale green. Besides spitting up the mucus, it will also cause congestion in the chest. Patients with COPD generally have difficulties breathing, especially in the morning because of the excessive mucus. As the years pass, and the disease advances, more mucus will appear more frequently. If people continue to smoke throughout the phases of COPD, it will only speed up the complications.

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Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath can be one of the most problematic symptoms of COPD. Running out of air is a scary feeling. If you suffer from COPD, then you already know shortness of breath can occur doing any type of physical exertion. As the stages progress, people say the sensation comes on even doing the simplest tasks like walking. At times, breathing may feel like an overwhelming effort. As the chest tightens through inhaling and exhaling, the breathlessness reaction should not be taken lightly. This sign of COPD will get more intense over the years; the more frequent shortness of breath reveals the more significant blockage present in the pulmonary pathways.

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Tightness in Chest

Speaking of tightness in the chest, that is another common symptom of COPD. When patients with the disease inhale, the feeling comes over them. More specifically, the feeling is related to the ribcage feeling squeezed or pressurized. This leads to a labored breathing, which is more than uncomfortable. However, patients have reported very different accounts of tightness in the chest. Therefore, it is somewhat hard to explain the natural sensation every person with COPD might feel, especially depending on the stage of the disease. It is important to note that chest pain is not the same thing as the sensation of tightness. If you are experiencing chest pain with the tightness, you may want to discuss these symptoms with your doctor. The conditions may reflect something more serious such as lung cancer.

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Wheezing

Obviously wheezing is a sign of a respiratory problem. However, wheezing is also associated with COPD. As the patient breathes in and out, you will hear a particular whistling sound, too. The noise is a result of narrowed, blocked air passages. You may not have wheezing symptoms until you reach a later stage of COPD. By that time, the sound and feeling may be in the aftermath of a coughing spell. Too much physical exertion will also cause wheezing with breathing. Although slurred speech is not a universal sign of COPD, excessive wheezing can cause problems when speaking.

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Recurring Chest Infections

As most of the other symptoms of COPD, this one is also linked to the chest. Patients with the disease are vulnerable to recurring chest infections. They are more susceptible to the illness because their pulmonary health is weak; in fact, it is so compromised that the common cold can cause serious problems for people with COPD. If you are having these health issues, you should talk to your physician. It is critical to you are checked for COPD because you can take precaution regarding lung-related health problems such as being around those who are sick, too.

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Rapid Heartbeat

It is natural for your pulse to increase when you are experiencing a shortness of breath or tightness in your chest. COPD adversely affects your pulmonary airways. This restriction reduces your intake of oxygen-rich blood. Because it pressurizes your heart, the pumping of oxygenated blood to the body is also delayed. The small pause causes the heart to beat faster because that is the response it causes as a demand in the absence of adequate blood supply. Basically, it is a chain reaction, and as you go through more advanced stages, the worse each symptom gets.

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Weight Loss

Although weight loss is a typical symptom for other ailments, it is correlated with advanced stages of COPD. Like other symptoms, this is caused by the labored breathing. When you the airways are restricted, your body needs more energy in order to get through what should be an easy process. In turn, people with COPD literally burn calories by doing everyday chores. Therefore, they lose weight. Because this symptom occurs in later stages of the disease, it is important to discuss your diet and exercise plan with your doctor. You do not want to suffer from severe weight loss, which can lead to other health problems.

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Blue Lips and Nails

This symptom of COPD may seem a little strange because it is not related to breathing. However, blue lips and nails have been observed in patients with COPD. Medically known as cyanosis, patients in the most advanced stages can get it. The color indicates an abnormally low blood supply. This also means the blood circulation throughout the body is extremely deficient. In fact, if you notice a person with blue lips and nails, you should seek medical attention immediately. This is an emergency situation. If you know the person suffers from COPD, call 911 right away.

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Mental Confusion

Even though COPD does not take a toll on cognitive function as much as other diseases, it can cause impairment in some individuals. Further, patients that may experience mental confusion might be careless of their condition or not respond well to treatment. The symptom is caused by a restricted airway to the brain. This leads to a pause in receiving the oxygen-rich blood throughout the brain or other parts of the body. Naturally, this reaction affects optimal brain function. The most common forms of mental confusion in patients with COPD includes a lack of concentration and a bad memory.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.