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10 Warning Signs of Lung Disease

10 warning signs of lung disease

Lung disease does not always make a bold appearance. In fact, it can slowly sneak up on you with symptoms that you may not immediately recognize as warning signs of lung disease. Some of the symptoms may even be a surprise to you. Learn the symptoms of lung problems that you should look out for and learn how to tell if they are indeed lung disease symptoms that need to be treated. 

What Is Lung Disease?

you are wondering, “What is lung disease?” it is helpful to know what lung disease describes and how to look out for it. Lung disease describes any problem in the lungs that results in your lungs not working correctly. Lung disease can be chronic and on-going or it can be short-term. The most common lung diseases are asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis

There are two different types of lung disease that you should be aware of: Obstructive lung disease and restrictive lung disease. Obstructive lung disease involves an obstruction in your air passages, which impacts your lungs’ ability to exhale air correctly. This obstruction is caused by lung irritants which cause inflammation or swelling in the airways. This swelling and irritation results in narrowed or blocked airways, which disrupt your lungs’ ability to fully exhale air. COPD and asthma are both obstructive lung diseases. Restrictive lung disease involves reduced lung capacity, which means the lungs cannot fill fully during inhalation. The reduction in lung capacity is caused by damage to the lung tissue, including stiff or scarred lung tissue, or by an enlarged abdomen or neurological factors. Lung cancer, pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis are restrictive lung diseases. 

Warning Signs and Lung Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of lung problems are not always obvious, so it is a good idea to be familiar with the warning signs. If you recognize one or more of these lung disease symptoms in you or someone you love, seek medical attention to be screened for lung disease. While these warning signs are not always symptoms of lung problems, they can be a good indication that the health of your respiratory system is not what it should be. Here is what to look out for and how to tell if you should be concerned. 

  • Chest Pain
    Chest pain can be a warning sign for a number of different problems, so if you experience it, pay attention to the severity of the pain as well as how long it lasts. Chest pain when you breathe in and out, or when you cough, could be an indication of something like bronchitis, or it could indicate a more serious lung problem. Symptoms of lung problems should not be ignored, however, so if unexplained chest pain persists for a month or more, contact your doctor. If your chest pain is so severe that you cannot function, seek emergency medical attention right away.

  • Chronic Cough
    Coughs can develop because of allergies, a cold or even a simple tickle in your throat, but if you have a cough for more than a month, it should be investigated by your doctor. A chronic cough is one of the most common lung disease symptoms, so if you have a cough that just will not go away, or your cough keeps you from sleeping at night, consider that it could be one of the symptoms of lung problems and see your doctor to have it checked out.
  • Chronic Mucus Production
    Mucus is the body’s natural way of defending against infection and irritants. However, if your airways are producing significant phlegm for a month or longer, you should see your doctor for a thorough examination. You could have a buildup in your airways or your lungs, which is one of the symptoms of lung problems.
  • Coughing Up Blood
    It should go without saying that coughing up blood should never be ignored. Though the blood could be coming from your upper respiratory tract or from your lungs, coughing up blood or bloody mucus is a sign of a serious problem. If you cough up blood, seek medical attention right away. 

 

  • Shortness of Breath
    The number one hallmark symptom of lung disease, shortness of breath can indicate a problem with your respiratory health. If your shortness of breath continues after you are done exercising, or if you experience shortness of breath after little or no exertion, make an appointment to see your doctor. If you have been sick, it could be a sign of bronchitis or pneumonia, but if you have not been ill, it could be a sign of something more serious.
  • Labored or Difficult Breathing
    If you find that it is difficult to breathe in or out and that you are working hard to get the breath you need, this could also be a warning sign of lung disease.
  • Wheezing
    Wheezing indicates that something is blocking your airways or causing them to become inflamed or swell, making them too narrow to allow air to move in and out efficiently. If you are wheezing when you breathe, see your doctor to find out why.
  • Avoiding Regular Activities because of Breathing Difficulty
    If you find that you are suddenly choosing the elevator over the stairs, or realize that you become winded during your everyday activities like getting dressed or preparing a meal, it is time to see your doctor. Experiencing breathing difficulties during regular activities is one of the symptoms of lung problems.
  • A Blue Tint to Your Nail Beds, Lips or Skin
    When your body does not get enough oxygen, you can experience a variety of symptoms including cyanosis, which is a blue, gray or purple tint to the nail beds, lips and skin. As your oxygen saturation gets lower, the color change becomes more noticeable, and is one of the clear symptoms of lung problems. If you notice this kind of color change, and warming up does not resolve it, see your doctor immediately.
  • Fatigue That Does Not Go Away
    If you feel constantly exhausted and you cannot get your energy back, no matter how much sleep you get, it is a good idea to see your doctor. For many kinds of lung disease, including lung cancer and COPD, fatigue that will not resolve is one of the symptoms of lung problems. If you experience this kind of fatigue, particularly in conjunction with any of the other lung disease symptoms, see your doctor right away. 

What to Do If You Experience Lung Disease Symptoms

If you have any of the symptoms of lung problems, particularly if you experience more than one symptom on this list, it is important to see your doctor so you can be screened for lung disease. While having one of these symptoms does not guarantee that you have lung disease, all of these symptoms of lung problems are a clear indication that you need to take care of your respiratory health. If it is lung disease, the good news is that catching it early on gives you a much better chance of slowing the progression of the disease and treating your symptoms more effectively.

If you think you might have lung disease symptoms, it is important to do everything you can to keep your airways and lungs as healthy as possible. Until you have seen your doctor and received a clear diagnosis, avoid contact with lung irritants like cigarette smoke, harsh chemicals and air pollution, and do your best to avoid contact with people who may have a respiratory illness. Wash your hands regularly and make sure you are prepared to follow doctor’s orders after you have received medical care. Remember: It is possible to continue living a full and active life, even after a lung disease diagnosis. The first step is to learn whether you have lung disease. After that, you can learn how to treat it.  

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/warning-signs-of-lung-disease/

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/signs-of-lung-disease/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000066.htm

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