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Signs and Symptoms of COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD, otherwise known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, refers to a group of lung diseases in which the airways become narrowed, making it difficult to breathe. The two main conditions that make up COPD are bronchitis and emphysema, and in COPD they occur together.  COPD is clinically defined by low airflow on lung function tests, which usually gets progressively worse over time. We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms for COPD below.

The Signs and Symptoms of COPD are as follows:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Mucus production
  • Chest tightness
  • Tiredness

On general, most people with COPD don’t show any signs and symptoms until significant lung damage has occurred.  When the above signs and symptoms do become apparent, most people have one or more of these signs and symptoms at the same time.

The main cause for COPD is long-term exposure to airborne irritants, mainly tobacco smoke and other air pollutants such as chemical fumes and dust. Long-term smokers are at the greatest risk for developing COPD.  The signs and symptoms of COPD can’t be reversed, so treatment focuses on controlling symptoms.

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the US, and the sixth leading cause of death worldwide.  It is projected to be the fourth leading cause of death worldwide by the year 2030, due to a worldwide increase in smoking rates.

Diagnosis of COPD

A diagnosis of COPD is made through a physical examination and by reviewing your history of exposure to ling irritants, particularly long-term cigarette smoking. In addition, spirometry is a lung function test that can detect COPD even before you have symptoms. Imaging tests such as a chest x-ray or CT scan are also helpful in detecting emphysema and ruling out other lung conditions.

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of COPD

The Complete Guide to Understanding and Living with COPD: From A COPDer’s Perspective
R. D. Martin
COPD For Dummies
Meg F. Schneider

Positive Options for Living with COPD: Self-Help and Treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Positive Options for Health)
Teri Ann Allen
Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD: Relief and Healing for Chronic Pulmonary Disorders
Robert J. Green Jr.

COPD Resources

General Patient Resources

  • COPD . com

Find COPD information and treatment options to help you starting living with COPD and enjoying your life.

  • COPD . org

As a multidisciplinary alliance, our mission is to bring clinicians together to improve patients’ quality of life through recognition and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

  • COPD International

Information and interactive support for COPD patients, caregivers for COPD patients, and families dealing with COPD, with chatrooms, message boards, e-mail lists and more.

  • COPD Foundation

COPD Foundation provides COPD information, COPD treatment resources and COPD support programs.

  • COPD Support Forum

COPD Emphysema Chronic Bronchitis Support Forum for people who need help for themselves or a loved one.

  • About . com

WELCOME TO THE COPD FORUM! The COPD Forum is a place to vent, share your highs and lows, and meet new friends who truly care. COPD patients and caregivers alike are welcome, as is anyone who wants to learn more about the disease.

  • MD Junction

COPD Forums. Discussions, Q&A and friends dealing with COPD.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment of this lung disease.

  • Pub Med Health

Reviews causes, symptoms, risk factors, incidence, treatment, prognosis and complications.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.