Understanding COPD

3 Early COPD Signs and Symptoms

Nov 18, 2019
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has many different kinds of signs and symptoms. While some people are able to detect COPD right away based on early warning signs, others may not even develop any signs or symptoms until it is somewhat advanced. If you can relate to any of the following COPD signs and symptoms, be sure to see your doctor to discuss your concerns.

Early COPD Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms vary from patient to patient. In its early stages, COPD may not show any types of symptoms. However, there are a few mild symptoms that could present themselves as early stages of COPD (information from the American Thoracic Society).


  • Chronic cough: A chesty cough that refuses to go away on its own. Any cough that lasts more than 2 months can be considered a chronic cough. 
  • Shortness of breath: COPD requires extra effort to be able to breathe. Often it starts b only occurring after exercise but slowly makes its way into your everyday activities.
  • Increased mucus production: Mucus helps keep our airways moist, but too much of it can cause a chronic cough to arise. 


Other Signs & Symptoms of COPD

In addition to these early indicators of COPD, there are a number of other symptoms that could be pointing toward COPD. According to the American Lung Association, these symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent respiratory infection
  • Blueness of the lips and fingernails
  • Fatigue

Who is Most At Risk?

While there doesn’t necessarily need to be an underlying factor causing COPD, there are some situations that put people at a higher risk of COPD than others. These include those who:

  • Are long-time smokers
  • Are 35+ years old
  • Were exposed to heavy levels  of chemical fumes, vapors, and/or dust
  • Were exposed to large quantities of second-hand smoke

Information from Mayo Clinic.

Remember that this is a broad guide to different symptoms and signs of COPD and that they vary depending on the individual. Be sure to speak with your doctor should you feel like any of these symptoms relate to you for an accurate diagnosis. Knowing and understanding what is happening with your body is important to leading a happy, healthy life. 

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  1. Signs and Symptoms of COPD (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/signs-symptoms-of-COPD.pdf
  2. COPD Symptoms (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/symptoms-causes-risk-factors/symptoms.html

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