Common Symptoms of COPD
COPD is not a disease that comes with a sudden onset of symptoms. Oftentimes, COPD symptoms don’t even appear until there has been a lot of damage to the lungs. Symptoms of COPD do worsen with time, especially if there is exposure to smoke.
COPD signs are a good indicator that a patient may have COPD. The main sign is an ongoing cough, lasting three or more months, occurring at least two years in a row. This is a productive cough. Shortness of breath is also one of the main COPD signs. Wheezing and chest tightness may occur during the beginning stages of COPD as well.
A COPD diagnosis can be made after a physical exam that includes breathing tests. A spirometry, which measures how much air is inhaled, is the most common breathing test used to diagnose COPD. This is an easy and painless test that involves breathing into a simple machine.
Although smoking is a great risk factor for having COPD, there are also some COPD symptoms in non smokers. Although typically a smoker’s condition, about 10-20% of people diagnosed with COPD are non smokers. Some people develop COPD due to genetics or exposure to toxic fumes. COPD can be more manageable for non smokers because they do not have to go through the stress of quitting smoking, but the symptoms are the same. This can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes for the best possible outcome.
There are some early symptoms of COPD that let patients become proactive in their treatment. These include frequent coughing, and especially coughs that produce a lot of mucus and phlegm. The chest may feel tighter than normal and shortness of breath may occur. Coughing will even begin to disturb sleep. Feeling tired will be natural due to the sleep disturbances. These symptoms will get worse as the disease progresses.
COPD symptoms can come and go a little bit with the seasons and with different activities, but an acute exacerbation of COPD symptoms can occur. Acute exacerbations are a quick onset of worsening of COPD symptoms such as an increase in the quantity of phlegm and a shortness of breath. Acute exacerbations often last several days and may be brought on by either air pollutants, allergy season, or an infection.
COPD is similar to bronchitis, but unfortunately, it does not go away as easily. With some treatments and life maintenance, COPD can be managed and a healthy and full life can be lived.