The Mayo Clinic describes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as ‘a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.’ It’s number one cause is smoking, as well as long-term exposure to dust or fumes, cigarette smoke, or in rare times, due to a genetic issue. Notably, even if you have never smoked before, you can still develop COPD.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that it’s ‘a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems.’ Some of these pulmonary conditions include chronic obstructive asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, which also happens to be the most common of all.
Statistics show that over 12.5 million American adults suffer from COPD, and with no cure for this chronic disease, it costs the healthcare system billions in healthcare costs each and every year. What makes things even more complicated is that COPD isn’t always easy to diagnose, since it’s symptoms can be quite subtle at first. However, there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for when it comes to recognizing whether or not you may have it.
Here are 13 signs and symptoms that you may have COPD.
1. A Persistent Cough That Refuses to Go Away
One common sign of COPD, if not one of the most common of all the symptoms, is a persistent cough that refuses to go away. Coughing is a reflex or an action that works to clear your airways of mucus that may be stuck in your throat or lungs, or possible irritants such as smoke, dust or fumes. Most of the time, a cough clears up within a matter of days or weeks when it’s due to a virus or bacteria, whether you need to use medication to deal with it or not. But when it comes to COPD, while the cough may start like any other cough, it tends to be a persistent one that refuses to go away. In fact, as the days progress, rather than get better, the cough will actually worsen and become worse over time. In addition, COPD patients often notice that they produce much more mucus, which in turn causes them to cough even more severely. If you have a persistent cough that refuses to go away, especially if you’re a smoker, talk to your doctor about the possibility of having COPD.