How to Know if You Have COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be a serious issue, and it is important to recognize its symptoms. Early detection can make a significant difference in one’s life.
Smokers and those who have been exposed to secondhand smoke are especially at risk for developing it. However, even those who are not smokers or routinely exposed to secondhand smoke can develop the disease. Other lung irritants can lead to developing COPD as well. How do you know if you have it, though?
Early on in the disease, it may be unclear if you have COPD. While there may be mild lung damage present, symptoms of the disease will likely be barely noticeable. There may not be any symptoms at all at the beginning. As the disease progresses, however, the COPD symptoms become more noticeable. These symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
The disease can cause the immune system to be weakened. For some people, this means more frequent bouts with colds or influenza. These can be more dangerous for COPD sufferers than for those without the disease. As such, it is especially important for those who have COPD to get the flu shot each year.
As COPD increases in its severity, your symptoms will worsen. There may also be additional symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the feet, legs or ankles
- Lower muscle endurance
- Weight loss
COPD symptoms can become so severe that they can be life threatening. If you are having trouble breathing or talking, you should promptly seek medical assistance. Other symptoms that should prompt a trip to the Emergency Room are:
- Lips and/or fingernails changing color to blue or grey
- Rapid heartbeat
- Not being mentally alert
The above are all symptoms of an insufficient level of oxygen in the blood. A lack of mental alertness can indicate that the brain is being starved of oxygen.
If you suspect that you are suffering from COPD, it is important to talk to your doctor. While there is no cure for the disease, there are effective treatments that can help you avoid up in the Emergency Room.
Available COPD treatments can help those with the disease to live relatively good lives. With some lifestyle changes and proper medications, symptoms can be relieved and the disease slowed.