Focused on Better Breathing
Learning how to recognize COPD symptoms can be a valuable part of combating this disease from its earliest stages. While the symptoms of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, can vary based on the extent of damage, knowing how to recognize the earliest red flags can allow you to communicate your health concerns to your doctor more effectively. Additionally, the symptoms of these diseases can have similarities to those that presenting with asthma as well. Understanding the difference and the methods of diagnosis used by medical professionals can help you to make better-informed medical decisions.
In the Early Stages
COPD impacts an estimated 12 million Americans each year, typically affecting millions more without their knowledge. Some of the risk factors that increase your chances for becoming ill include smoking, long-term exposure to airborne toxins, and other genetic and environmental factors. The condition usually first presents itself in the form of a persistent cough that peaks during the morning hours. This symptom indicates a problem with concerning the normal functioning of the lungs that extends beyond natural irritants and the clearing of phlegm. Another early-stage symptom includes increased mucus production. This added material in the lungs blocks the absorption of inhaled particles, limiting one’s ability to breathe normally. Healthy lungs produce up to three ounces of mucus each day. People suffering from COPD can triple this amount in a normal day.
Doctors consider regular shortness of breath to be a Stage-2 indicator. This feeling comes when the lungs require more effort to take in the normal amount of oxygen needed to function. The blood-oxygen levels decrease, resulting in fatigue. When the disease is less advanced, this symptom is likely to occur only during periods of exertion. However, as the condition worsens, the symptom will occur more frequently with less provocation. Wheezing will also begin to occur due to the fact that you are attempting to breathe through obstructed or narrowing airways. There are several factors that can impact the airways in this manner, including spasms, excess mucus, and tissue inflammation.
Symptoms of COPD will worsen over time, increasing in severity and frequency. When these warning signs begin to occur, it is critical to consult your doctor for a medical diagnosis. When left untreated, COPD conditions can be debilitating or fatal. Doctors will conduct tests that include measuring the capacity of your lungs or X-rays that provide precise imaging of the lungs and airways.