Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms & Signs

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COPD is characterized by a longstanding (chronic) obstruction to air flow out of the lungs. It can take different forms and have different symptoms. Symptoms of COPD can also vary in severity. Symptoms include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, and frequent respiratory infections. Other possible symptoms can include finger clubbing, wheezing, exercise intolerance, chest tightness, cough productive of sputum, and coughing up blood. The advanced stages of COPD can lead to symptoms like swelling of the feet and ankles, bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes (cyanosis), morning headaches, and weight loss.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/28/2014

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Kleinschmidt, Paul. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema in Emergency Medicine." Sept. 17, 2012. <>.

Longo, Dan, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

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COPD Symptoms and Signs
  • Bluish Discoloration of the Skin and Mucous Membranes (Cyanosis)
  • Chest Tightness
  • Cough
  • Coughing Up Blood
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Finger Clubbing
  • Frequent Respiratory Infections
  • Morning Headaches
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Sputum Production
  • Swelling of the Feet and Ankles
  • Weight Loss
  • Wheezing
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