What are the symptoms of COPD?
Classic Symptoms Of COPD
COPD makes it harder to breathe. Symptoms may be mild at first, beginning with intermittent coughing and shortness of breath. As it progresses, symptoms can become more constant to where it can become increasingly difficult to breathe.
You may experience
wheezing and tightness in the chest or have excess sputum production. Some people with COPD have acute exacerbations, which are flare-ups of severe symptoms.
At first, symptoms of COPD can be quite mild. You might mistake them for a cold.
Early symptoms include:
- occasional shortness of breath, especially after exercise
- mild but recurrent cough
- needing to clear your throat often, especially first thing in the morning
You might start making subtle changes, such as avoiding stairs and skipping physical activities.
Symptoms can get progressively worse and harder to ignore. As the lungs become more damaged, you may experience:
- shortness of breath, after even mild exercise such as walking up a flight of stairs
- wheezing, which is a type of higher pitched noisy breathing, especially during exhalations
- chest tightness
- chronic cough, with or without mucus
- need to clear mucus from your lungs every day
- frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections
- lack of energy
In later stages of COPD, symptoms may also include:
- swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs
- weight loss
Immediate medical care is needed if:
- you have bluish or gray fingernails or lips, as this indicates low oxygen levels in your blood
- you have trouble catching your breath or cannot talk
- you feel confused, muddled, or faint
- your heart is racing
Symptoms are likely to be much worse if you currently smoke or are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.