Lung Disease Symptoms
Lung Disease Symptoms
Many of us get worried when we notice something going on with our bodies. Others simply ignore symptoms because they believe they are just signs of aging. While both of these can be true in certain situations, it’s important to listen to your body and see your doctor if something isn’t right. Short-term symptoms like a cough or wheezing may indicate a common cold. However, if they go on for longer than a week or two it’s time to visit your doctor to have them checked out. Learn about lung disease symptoms in this article and pay close attention to your body. Knowledge and seeing your doctor are important when you notice any of the following lung disease symptoms that continue and don’t go away.
- Chronic cough- Coughing is a natural way for your lungs to rid themselves of foreign matter, as in when you breathe in irritants. Coughing is also the way your lungs expel excess mucus, as in when you have a cold or the flu. If you have a cough for a few minutes or a few days, that’s a natural reaction of your body. If you have a cough for a month or longer, that is considered a chronic cough. A chronic cough should be a sign to visit your doctor to have it checked out. A chronic cough can be a sign of a more serious lung disease. Lung disease symptoms like a chronic cough can be a sign that you have asthma. A chronic cough, especially at night in children, may be the only outward symptom of asthma. A chronic cough can also signal a more serious condition known as chronic bronchitis. In chronic bronchitis, the airways respond to a repeated exposure to irritants by producing excess mucus. The response of the lungs is to produce a cough to get rid of the excess mucus. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is smoking. Another cause of a chronic cough can be post nasal drip. Sinus drainage into the back of the throat can irritate your throat and cause coughing. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can also cause a chronic cough. While you sleep acid from the stomach can back up in the esophagus and you may aspirate stomach contents into the lungs. This can happen without you even being aware of it. However, the acid you aspirate irritates the lungs and causes inflammation and excess mucus production. Another common cause of a chronic cough is if you have been prescribed an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure, heart failure or a heart attack. One of the side effects of an ACE inhibitor is a chronic cough. If you have a cough that has been bothering you for more than a month, please see your doctor and get it checked out.
- Chronic sputum production- Sputum, or mucus, is produced by special cells in the lungs to help with removing harmful particles, bacteria, and viruses from the airways in your lungs. Once again, the most common cause of excess mucus production in the lungs is smoking. The constant irritation caused by cigarette smoke causes these cells to become more plentiful and produce more mucus to remove the harmful particles inhaled in the cigarette smoke. This increase in mucus production can lead to COPD. COPD is a name that covers all the chronic obstructive lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. As the word “obstructive” in the name implies, these diseases are characterized by an obstruction in the airways. Mucus is one of the factors causing the obstruction. The other cause is inflammation in the airways causing them to swell and narrow. Once again, if you have been coughing up mucus for more than a month you should see your doctor. Speaking of inflammation in the airways, this leads us to the next of the lung disease symptoms; wheezing.
- Wheezing- wheezing is caused by a narrowing of the airways in the lungs. A wheeze sounds like a high pitched whistling sound. Wheezes may be audible, where a person can hear you wheezing when you are breathing. They can also be only heard by the use of a stethoscope. Audible wheezing is usually accompanied by shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is where a person experiences air hunger and a feeling of breathlessness. Wheezing can also be caused by an obstruction in the upper airway. This type of wheezing is usually able to be cleared by a deep, forceful cough. If you experience wheezing that doesn’t clear with a cough, or shortness of breath, you should go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Wheezing can also be caused by a lung cancer tumor pressing in and narrowing the airway, causing wheezing. This is why it’s so important not to ignore this lung disease symptom.
- Coughing up blood- coughing up blood can be a sign of a serious lung disease. Tuberculosis can cause you to cough up blood. Lung cancer can also cause this probably most frightening of the lung disease symptoms. Small amounts of blood in the mucus you cough up during a cold or flu can be a sign of severe irritation in the airways. Significant amounts of blood coughed up are a medical emergency and should be seen by a doctor right away. The use of blood thinners can also cause blood in the mucus. It’s important to see your doctor if you are coughing up blood. Also, be sure and tell them when you arrive that you are coughing up blood. You will most likely be asked to wear a mask until you have been tested to rule out TB. They may ask you other questions like your travel destinations recently to rule out other things like Ebola. This is a precaution and it’s not meant to alarm anyone.
- Chronic chest pain- chronic chest pain lasting a month or more can also be one of the lung disease symptoms. If you have pain when coughing or breathing that doesn’t go away you need to see your doctor. A chronic cough can cause chest wall pain, but there are other lung diseases such as lung cancer that can cause you to have chronic chest pain. If you have pain in your chest wall that won’t go away you should definitely have it checked out.
Now that you are aware of these lung disease symptoms you should prepare for your visit with your doctor by writing down your symptoms, when they started, and what you have done to try and treat them. You should also bring a list of all your medications to the visit. This will help your doctor determine the cause and treatment of your symptoms. Please don’t ignore your lung disease symptoms, as they may be a sign of a serious but treatable disease. The sooner you identify the problem, the better.