COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, may affect up to 24 million people with about half of them completely unaware of the disease. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and the rates of COPD-related fatalities are on the rise. Therefore, the symptoms of COPD should not be ignored—especially because they tend to occur only in later stages of the disease. If you have a history of smoking or live in areas where air pollution is high, you might talk to your doctor about COPD when you notice the following signs.
A chronic cough is one that persists for weeks or even months with no clear cause. Coughing may indicate a number of respiratory conditions, but a cough that does not go away is often associated with the most serious lung and respiratory diseases.
Wheezing and shortness of breath
If breathing becomes difficult during everyday activities or you experience wheezing as a result of shortness of breath, COPD may be the cause. It is important that you do not wait for these symptoms to worsen, since early treatment of COPD is most effective. Plus, you will minimize the damage that may take place due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream resulting from breathing difficulties.
Frequent respiratory illness
Getting sick with the cold or flu frequently is not uncommon in patients with COPD, since an obstruction in the airways or lungs could make tissues more susceptible to infection. If you do get sick often, you should alert your doctor to prevent complications that could lead to hospitalization.
Overproduction of mucus
Mucus, more often referred to as phlegm, may be an indicator of COPD. An overproduction of phlegm may occur as the body tries to compensate for difficulties in clearing the body of carbon dioxide.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call the Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line at Northside Hospital to learn about the right course of treatment for you. You can reach us at (888) 598-9586 to speak with one of our registered nurse 24/7.