People with COPD usually have one or more of these symptoms:
- feeling short of breath
- a cough that lasts a long time (more than 3 months)
- a cough with mucus most days
- wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
- chest tightness.
The most common symptom of COPD is feeling short of breath. Simple everyday activities, like walking short distances or climbing up a few stairs, can cause someone with COPD to feel short of breath. As the disease gets worse, breathing can become difficult even at rest.
Feeling short of breath is not a normal sign of ageing and ignoring it could delay a diagnosis and treatment. Talk to your health professional if you are short of breath when doing simple chores and activities.
COPD exacerbations (a flare-up of symptoms) are common complications of COPD.
The signs and symptoms of an exacerbation are a worsening of many of your usual symptoms of COPD.
Having a flare-up can increase your loss of lung function as well as increasing the likelihood of you having another flare-up, especially if your disease is mild.
If you have COPD, you should be familiar with your medicines so that you know what steps to take at the first signs of an exacerbation.
Ask your health professional to help you develop a COPD Action Plan to help manage your condition, avoid triggers and keep you out of hospital.