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Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis of COPD

Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis of COPD
in Pulmonology

Apr 19, 2022

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a slow yet progressive disease. It isn’t unusual for initial signs & symptoms to be slightly different to the ones in the later stages of this disease. There exist several ways for evaluation of staging COPD, often based on the symptoms.

Generally, the first signs & symptoms of a COPD involve a productive cough usually during mornings with colorless or a white mucus or sputum.

A most remarkable symptom of COPD is breathlessness, dyspnea or termed shortness of breath. In early stage these symptoms could take place occasionally with exertion & eventually could progress to breathlessness while performing a simple task like standing up, walking to the washroom, etc.

Symptoms of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Signs and Symptoms associated with COPD:

Some individuals could have wheezing which is a whistling or hissing kind of a sound when breathing. Signs & symptoms of COPD include:-

  • Cough, generally with colorless mucus in small quantity
  • Acute discomfort in chest
  • Shortness of breath that generally takes place in individuals of age 60 years & above.
  • Wheezing, mainly during exertion

As COPD progresses from lid to moderate level, the symptoms often get more severe:-

  • Respiratory distress along with simple daily activities such as walking up few stairs.
  • Tachypnea or rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis or Bluish discoloration of skin
  • Use of the accessory respiratory muscles
  • Hyperinflation or Over-inflated lungs
  • Peripheral edema or swelling of extremities
  • Wheezing along with minimal exertion
  • Course crackles wherein which lungs sound generally with inspirations
  • Diffuse sounds of breath
  • Prolonged exhalation or expiration
  • Elevated jugular venous pulse

Diagnosis of COPD

Preliminary diagnosis of a COPD is diagnosed in an individual having COPD symptoms by

  • His/her history of breathing
  • History of tobacco smoking or also the exposure to passive smoking
  • Exposure to the air pollutants and/or history of lung disease such as pneumonia

Other tests for diagnosing a COPD are:-

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT Scan of lungs
  • Arterial blood gas or even a pulse oximeter for looking at the level of saturation of oxygen in the blood of the patient

Additionally, the patient could be also sent to some lung specialist or pulmonologist for determining their level of FEV1 which is used by few physicians for staging a COPD.

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