Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, for short, is a progressive and severe lung disease. The name also encompasses several other progressive lung diseases as a whole. In the beginning, the symptoms can be hardly noticeable and very subtle but can progress into much more challenging symptoms over time. In this article, Yuben Moodley, a dedicated physician and researcher, discusses some of the common symptoms of progressive lung diseases and explains what causes them.
One of the first symptoms of COPD can be a chronic or persistent cough. Generally, it is a deep-chested cough that does not resolve on its own. Most doctors would consider chronic as a cough lasting longer than two months. Usually, a cough is the body's protective mechanism that occurs due to irritants like cigarette smoke or tobacco smoke entering the lungs. A cough also is the body's mechanism to remove phlegm and mucus from the lungs. A long-term cough without irritants can be a sign that there is a more severe issue at hand with the lungs.
Another early sign is the excess production of mucus or phlegm. Mucus is vital for the body to keep airways moist and trapping irritants and germs that get into the lungs. The body automatically creates mucus when an individual inhales an irritant, resulting in that person coughing. One of the most common causes is smoking either cigarettes or tobacco. Other irritants that can cause damage and ultimately lead to COPD include chemical fumes such as paints and cleaning products, dust, pollution, perfume, hairspray, and other spray cosmetics.
COPD can create an obstruction in the air passages of a person over time. This obstruction can make it difficult to breathe or cause shortness of breath in individuals. In the beginning, this shortness of breath can happen after exercising but ultimately can worsen to any activity over time. The difficulty of breathing often results in those individuals becoming less active and less fit due to the troubles. Because of the extra effort required to breathe, individuals with COPD may experience decreased energy levels and a feeling of tiredness.
Like most diseases, COPD can lead to other health issues over time. Because the lungs are compromised in a person with COPD, they are more likely to suffer from the common cold, flu, pneumonia, and other chest infections. Additional symptoms include wheezing, chest pain, chest tightness, coughing up blood, weight loss, and swelling in the lower legs.
While symptoms can be treated professionally by a doctor, flare-ups are still possible at any point in time when exposed to certain irritants. If you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible. There is no cure for COPD, but an early diagnosis can help a person receive the needed treatment earlier and slow the illness's progression. Left untreated, COPD and other progressive lung diseases can ultimately become severe and life-threatening.