5 early signs of COPD that should not be ignored
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease affecting airflow in and out of the airways, making breathing difficult. It is a progressive disease, and if not diagnosed early, can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases. COPD is a group of diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive asthma. Identification of warning signs and early diagnosis could help reduce other risks and give a head start in essential treatment. Persistent or chronic cough This is one of the first signs of COPD - a persistent or long-term cough. The American Lung Association recommends seeking a medical diagnosis if a cough lasts more than eight weeks. A chronic cough could be an indication of an underlying issue with the functioning of the lungs. Shortness of breath and wheezing Any type of exercise or exertion is generally accompanied by heavier breathing, but if the feeling of being winded or having shortness of breath occurs during routine activities, it could be an early warning sign of COPD. Obstruction in the air passage causes difficulty in breathing and results in shortness of breath. COPD causes excess mucus to obstruct the airways, and this along with muscular tightening narrows the airways, causing the wheezing sounds when one exhales. Air being forced through swollen or obstructed airways causes this distinct whistling sound. Tightness in the chest Discomfort in the chest does not always mean a cardiovascular issue. One of the early warning signs of COPD is tightness in the chest, which is caused by damaged airways, making it difficult to breathe. When the lining of the airways swells because of COPD, they get blocked with mucus, making it difficult for air to move in and out with ease. Fatigue Blockage in the airways due to COPD makes it difficult for one to breathe with ease, in turn resulting in fatigue due to the low oxygen levels in the body. Now this can become a vicious cycle. Low oxygen can cause a feeling of lethargy, making it less likely for one to be active. Lack of activity leads to loss of stamina and one tends to tire out more easily, causing feelings of fatigue during normal activities. Increased mucus and chest infections Those suffering from COPD find it difficult to expel dust, pollutants, and other irritants from their lungs, causing recurring respiratory problems and chest infections. The early signs of COPD include coughing that is most often accompanied by colored phlegm or mucus. Coughing up too much phlegm or mucus, especially in the mornings can be an early sign of COPD.