Copd signs, symptoms, and complications electricity physics


Noticeable COPD symptoms often don’t show up until the disease is advanced and you’ve already incurred lung damage. People who are diagnosed and begin COPD treatment earlier in the course of the disease may have a better prognosis, so if any of these COPD symptoms sound familiar, contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is the hallmark symptom of COPD and usually the first symptom to appear. Shortness of breath due to medical conditions can be described in several ways, but many people with COPD describe dyspnea as feeling like gasping or labored breathing. Other people describe the sensation as "air hunger."

Initially, you may only experience dyspnea when you exert yourself. However, as the disease progresses, dyspnea may occur even while you’re resting. A tool known as the MMRC dyspnea scale is often used to help quantify these otherwise subjective symptoms so that you and your doctor can choose the best treatment options if you have COPD.

Sputum, also called mucus or phlegm, is a protective substance produced by your lungs to aid in the trapping and removal of foreign particles. Sputum is secreted by cells that line the airways (the bronchi and bronchioles) and is expelled by coughing or clearing your throat.

People with COPD often produce small amounts of tenacious sputum when they cough. Causes of increased mucus include both increased production by the airway cells (goblet cells) and a decreased ability to remove mucus due to dysfunction of the cilia, the tiny hair-like structures lining the airways.

A chronic cough in COPD is one that is long-term and doesn’t seem to go away. Medically, it’s defined as a cough that lasts for a period of at least eight weeks. While a chronic cough is common for people with COPD, there are many other, perhaps more serious causes of a persistent cough as well, and it’s important to make sure they are ruled out.

A cough with COPD can be dry (non-productive) or produce mucus. With some types of COPD, such as chronic bronchitis, the cough occurs daily and is associated with mucus production. Initially, the cough may be intermittent, but as the disease progresses, it may be present every day.

Tightness in the chest may give you a feeling of pressure within the chest walls that makes automatic breathing difficult. Chest tightness may be present when there is an infection in your lungs and it may make deep breathing painful ( pleuritic chest pain), causing respiration to be short and shallow.

Fatigue related to COPD is different than ordinary tiredness. This poorly understood and often underreported symptom of COPD is something that doesn’t respond well to a cup of coffee or even a good night’s sleep. Overall, fatigue is three times more common in people with lung disease than in those without it. While dyspnea is the most worrisome symptom among those with COPD, fatigue can be one of the most bothersome. But more than that, fatigue associated with COPD increases the risk of hospitalizations.

While chronic respiratory infections can tip you and your doctor off to COPD, they can also further damage your lungs. It’s important to get your flu shot every year and to talk with your doctor about getting the pneumococcal vaccine to help decrease the number of infections you pick up.

The emotional effects of COPD, especially anxiety and depression, are often overlooked. These symptoms are important not only due to their effect on your quality of life, but because they increase the risk of COPD exacerbation and a poorer health status overall.

Medications and other non-pharmacological treatments can help reduce the anxiety and depression associated with COPD, sometimes completely. If you suffer from either anxiety or depression, or both, or are noticing any other emotional effects of your disease, talk with your healthcare provider about your treatment options.

High blood pressure in the arteries in your lungs, called pulmonary hypertension, is a common complication of COPD, especially in the advanced stages of the disease. The symptoms are similar to symptoms of COPD and it’s usually diagnosed via imaging and/or lab tests.