COPD Symptoms

The COPD symptoms are easy to identify, but in some cases, it can be very hard to use them as an indicator for COPD. The symptoms of COPD include a cough that won't go away, coughing up mucus, and shortness of breath. In addition to normal COPD symptoms, many people with a COPD diagnosis experience flare-ups. These flare-ups are an intensifying of the COPD symptoms, and often require immediate COPD treatment. These flare-ups can be caused by a variety of different sources. In many cases, a lung infection like bronchitis or pneumonia can cause the patient to require immediate treatment for COPD.

Early COPD Symptoms

When COPD disease begins to develop, the early symptoms of COPD are often different from patient to patient. Among the most obvious symptoms of COPD disease is difficulty breathing, but numerous other warning signs can signal the onset of this condition. If you are experiencing any combination of the symptoms listed below, contact a healthcare professional to inquire about a COPD diagnosis test.

  • Thickening or sticky sputum
  • Coughing up sputum, or constantly clearing your throat
  • Sputum color changes to green or yellow
  • Blood in sputum
  • Swollen ankles
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic coughing
  • Fatigue and sleeping problems
  • Shortness of breath while laying down
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Morning headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness

Advanced COPD Symptoms

Similar to the early symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the advanced symptoms of COPD may also vary from patient to patient. The presence of advanced COPD symptoms usually means the pulmonary disease has progressed to the third or fourth stage of the illness. If you have any of the symptoms of advanced COPD, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Getting a prompt COPD diagnosis is crucial for maximizing your chances of successful COPD treatment.

  • Bluish skin: Advanced COPD symptoms include a bluish tint to the skin, caused by a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream because the lungs are operating at such a low capacity. The lips, toenails and fingernails turning blue are also symptoms of COPD.
  • Weight loss: Many patients with advanced COPD have a hard time breathing while eating, which causes them to eat less over time. This can result in excessive weight loss. Treatment for COPD in some patients includes education on what kinds of foods are easier to consume on a regular basis.
  • Cardiac health issues: People with advanced COPD disease are also at risk of cardiac problems, which is among the more dangerous COPD symptoms. Cardiac problems occur because the heart isn't receiving enough oxygen from the lungs to function normally.
  • Frequent headaches: Lack of oxygen to the brain causes frequent headaches, especially in the mornings.
  • Inability to carry out normal tasks: Bathing, walking short distances, cleaning the house and other remedial tasks become extremely difficult for people in the advanced stages of COPD. Even light physical activity causes severe breathing difficulties.
  • Inability to sleep lying down: If you can no longer sleep unless you're propped up in a chair or on several pillows, then you should be tested for COPD.

COPD Diagnosis

If you show several symptoms of COPD, then your doctor may attempt to make a diagnosis of COPD. An accurate COPD diagnosis is ultimately reached by performing a lung functionality test. In addition, your doctor will likely put you through a thorough physical exam and medical history interview. Blood tests, chest x-rays and CT scans may also be used when diagnosing COPD.

The thought of a COPD diagnosis may be unsettling, but getting your symptoms checked out as soon as possible will enhance your chances of successful treatments for COPD if a positive diagnosis is made. There are many treatments for COPD, and improved methods of COPD treatment are being developed as researchers learn more about new COPD causes.

COPD Stages

There are four different stages of COPD, with each stage having a different severity level of COPD symptoms. In addition, each stage requires different treatments for COPD. Knowing the definitions COPD doctors use to describe the stages of COPD can help you in your diagnosis.

Stage 1

The first stage of COPD disease is known as the mild stage. In this stage a person may have a chronic cough which brings up mucus. Lung function is about 80% of normal to 100% of normal.

Stage 2

The second stage of COPD is the moderate stage. A person stage 2 COPD lung disease with have a chronic cough with large amounts of mucous. They will also experience occasional flare-ups and 50% to 79% of normal lung function.

Stage 3

Entering the third stage of COPD, or severe COPD, the patient is likely to have retain their chronic cough and shortness of breath, and also experience weight loss and repeated COPD flare-ups. Lung function during this stage is reduced to 30% to 49%.

Stage 4

The final stage of COPD, also known as very sever COPD, has the patient experiencing all of the previous symptoms, in addition to blue tinted skin, fluid buildup in the legs and feet, tightness in the belly, life threatening COPD flare-ups and lung function of less than 30%. This final stage of COPD can be very intense, and often entails the around the clock treatment COPD patients requires.


Our research of COPD disease has led to a number of different diagnostic techniques being developed to help doctors analyze and accurately prescribe treatment for COPD lung disease. One of the first questions we had to ask ourselves before beginning to research into COPD causes was "What is COPD?" Our research has helped us to understand how lung disease COPD forms, and this understanding has led to better diagnostic techniques and better treatments for COPD.

We now understand that smoking causes COPD, and through this understanding we can develop better treatments because we know the COPD cause. We are now trying to answer questions like "What is pulmonary disease," and "How do we treat advanced COPD?"

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