Do I Have COPD? 7 Warning Signs of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disorder that causes many issues like breathing difficulties and can even lead to death.

There are more than 15 million people that live in the United States that are living and dealing with COPD. Many more, maybe even millions more, could be suffering from COPD and not even realize it.Symptoms of COPD are similar to symptoms of aging, which is one reason why COPD is so under diagnosed.

People experiencing any of these symptoms should speak with their doctor right away. The sooner the diagnosis, the better the treatment.  Here are 7 warning signs and symptoms to watch out for.

Shortness of Breath

Feeling short of breath is the largest warning sign of COPD.  Simple, everyday tasks (that you were once able to do without losing your breath) like walking the dog and taking the stairs, or not doing anything at all, like laying down or reclined in a chair can leave you breathless.  Feeling out of breath and/or a tightness in your chest is not normal and should be addressed with your doctor right away. Even if it only happens here and there.

Coughing for No Reason

A very common symptom of COPD is a nagging cough.  Coughs that dont seem to go away after time or are for no apparent reason (coughs that are not accompanied by other cold/flu symptoms) should be checked out by your doctor stat.  

Mucus Changes

Lots of mucus produced by your lungs (versus your sinuses) could be a symptom of COPD.  It is normal for lungs to create some mucus to keep airways moist, but you should chat with your doctor if you notice big changes in mucus production.  Especially if you are producing yellow, green, and/or bloody mucus.

Swollen Ankles

People that experience swollen legs, ankles or feet may have COPD.  Swelling happens with blood vessels are not receiving the amount of oxygen they need and strains the heart.  This causes fluid to build up in the body, leaving your lower extremities to swell. Talk to your doc immediately if you notice swelling in your body.

Unexplained Weight Loss

People that suffer from COPD tend to lose weight for seemingly no reason.  There are actually a couple of reasons: 1. Your lungs are working harder to allow breathing.  This requires more energy (calories) which can lead to weight loss. 2. Those with COPD can also have a lowered appetite which leads to weight loss.

Morning Head Aches

Do you ever wake up with head pain or aches?  This can be a symptom of COPD. As previously mentioned, if your lungs are not properly working, your body will not receive enough oxygen.  Since breathing can be especially difficult while laying down, this leads to mornings of pounding headaches, feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

Trouble Sleeping

Another warning sign of COPD is sleeping troubles.  Sleep becomes more difficult because youre unable to breathe effectively, but also because you may be awakened by coughing fits and other problems like sleep apnea or reflux diseases.