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What're the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

People who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) usually have some symptoms of both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In a person with COPD, a mild cough that produces clear sputum develops by around age 45, usually when the person first gets out of bed in the morning. Cough and sputum production persist for the next 10 years; shortness

of breath may be noted with exertion. Sometimes, shortness of breath is first noted only with a lung infection, during which time the person coughs more and has an increased amount of sputum. The color of the sputum changes from clear to yellow or green.

Chronic bronchitis usually begins as a mild cough, sometimes called a smoker's cough. These symptoms resemble a chest cold that lingers on for weeks. Later, shortness of breath develops. Cough, sputum production, and shortness of breath may become worse if a person develops a lung infection. A person with chronic bronchitis may later develop emphysema as well. In emphysema, shortness of breath on exertion is the predominant early symptom. Coughing is usually minor and there is little sputum. As the disease progresses, the shortness of breath occurs with less exertion, and eventually may be present even when at rest. At this point, a sputum producing cough may also occur. Either chronic bronchitis or emphysema may lead to respiratory failure--a condition in which there occurs a dangerously low level of oxygen or a serious excess of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Chronic bronchitis can lead to emphysema. The first symptom of emphysema is usually shortness of breath during exertion. There is little coughing and no sputum. As the disease progresses, and with age, the shortness of breath occurs more often, until it even occurs when the patient is at rest. A sputum-producing cough may occur at this point. The strain of breathing can also cause the heart to weaken. Leg swelling is an early sign of heart failure. COPD can lead to acute respiratory failure, usually when a respiratory illness such as a cold places too much of a strain on the lungs. Acute respiratory failure occurs when there are low levels of oxygen or high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. The quality of life for a person with COPD becomes increasingly lower as the disease progresses.

More information on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is persistent obstruction of the airways occurring with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or both disorders.
What causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is caused by exposure to noxious gases or particles, especially cigarette smoke.
What're the risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? - The leading risk factor for COPD is smoking, which can lead to the two most common forms of this disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
What're the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? - People who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) usually have some symptoms of both chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
How is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosed? - Diagnosis of COPD begins with a medical history and physical examination. Other diagnostic tests for COPD include an arterial blood gas.
What's the treatment for hronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - The goals of COPD treatment are to prevent further deterioration in lung function, to alleviate symptoms, and to improve performance of daily activities.
How to prevent hronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Lifestyle modifications that can help prevent COPD, or improve function in COPD patients, include: quitting smoking, avoiding respiratory irritants.
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