8 Signs of COPD To Watch For

It's so easy to put off seeking help. Still, the earlier you seek help the better. As a friend or loved one, you may be in a position to help. While many aspects of COPD are invisible, there are many other signs of COPD you can spot.

Here are 8 signs of COPD:

  1. Swollen legs or ankles. You observe that your friend or loved one appears to have swollen ankles or feet. Or, swelling that is always there seems to be getting worse.
  2. Talking in short, choppy sentences. When someone can’t get enough air, it’s difficult to speak full sentences. So, they often speak in short, choppy sentences.
  3. Taking lots of breaks during exertion. You observe the person taking lots of breaks to catch his/ her breath. This may entail leaning on chairs, or sitting on them when moving from one place to another. You may observe they even have trouble doing simple things, such as brushing their teeth.
  4. Less active than normal. When people are short of breath, or more short of breath than normal, they may feel tired or fatigued. This may cause them to be less active. They may be watching more TV than normal. Their chores may go undone. They may stay home rather than going shopping or going to family events.
  5. Breathing is irregular. When a person is breathing normally, the stomach goes out when they inhale and the chest doesn't move much. When someone is having a flare-up, they have a tendency to do paradoxical breathing. This means that their stomach goes in when they inhale and the chest may appear to go in.  They do this in an attempt to suck more air in. Their shoulders may appear hunched. They do this in an attempt to create more room in their chest for air.
  6. Leaning on things to breathe. People having trouble breathing have a tendency to lean on things to breathe. Usually, this goes along with irregular breathing and hunched shoulders. They lean on things to breathe in an attempt to hold their shoulders up. It may also be to rest their chest and shoulder muscles, especially if they have been short of breath for a while.
  7. Blue tinge around lips and fingertips.  Flare-ups may prevent the lungs from getting enough oxygen to tissues. When this happens, oxygen goes to vital organs such as the brain and heart before it goes to fingertips and lips. This can make lips and fingertips appear blue. The medical term for this is cyanosis.
  8. Colorful sputum. I know you don't want to look at someone's sputum. Still, when someone's sputum changes colors, this can be an early sign of a flare-up. It may be a sign that an infection is occurring.

What to make of this?

So, it may take some practice. But you can learn to recognize these signs. When you spot them, you may want to say something. Now, I’m no expert on what to say. But, as an asthmatic, I once had someone say to me, “You need to go to the ER right now!” It may have saved my life. So, I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes you need to hear it from someone else.

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