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4 Signs and Symptoms of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

4 Early Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary
Disease (COPD) Could you have COPD? More than 11 million Americans have been diagnosed
with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the American Lung Association. Another 12–24 million may have the condition
without realizing it. Could you be one of them? It’s not always easy to tell. Some of the symptoms of COPD are similar to
those of other conditions. When symptoms first occur, some people ignore
them, thinking they’re related to something less serious. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of
COPD don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred. How do I determine if it’s COPD? Current or former smokers or people who’ve
had frequent exposure to other irritants are at risk for developing COPD. These irritants can include: secondhand smoke. air pollution. workplace fumes. sawdust or other aerosolized particles. Your doctor will give you a physical exam
and order tests to determine if you have COPD. The tests include lung function tests to measure
your breathing. The tests can also help rule out other conditions. Only a doctor can diagnose COPD, but there
are some symptoms of early COPD to watch for. Be aware of the symptoms Most people with COPD develop symptoms that
cause them to make appointments to see their doctors. The severity of your symptoms depends on the
amount of lung damage you have. However, it’s possible to have lung damage
without having any symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you experience any
of the following symptoms. Ongoing cough One of the first signs of COPD is usually
a long-term or chronic cough. Coughing helps to protect the airways from
inhaled irritants such as cigarette smoke. It also helps to remove phlegm (mucus) from
the breathing passages. Although the lungs are responding normally
to irritation, a chronic cough is an indication that the lungs aren’t functioning normally. Increased mucus In COPD, coughing usually goes hand-in-hand
with a second early-stage symptom: the production of a large amount of mucus or phlegm. Your lungs produce mucus to help trap or keep
inhaled irritants out. Tobacco smoke and other irritants can lead
to the production of up to three times the normal amount of mucus. Shortness of breath Shortness of breath or a feeling of breathlessness
is when your lungs take more effort than usual to move air in and out. Initially, breathlessness may occur only with
increased physical activity, such as playing sports or walking uphill. Fatigue Fatigue, or tiredness, is another common symptom
in people with COPD. You may find that you get tired more easily
than you did in the past. A loss of energy or stamina may also occur. If you feel more tired than usual, talk to
your doctor to determine if it’s a result of COPD.

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