Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Mostly the condition comes as a result of other health issues such as cancer and heart disease. It is among the leading death causes in the US and other countries across the globe. The disease is treatable, but if medical attention is not sought early, it can lead to serious problems.
COPD has characteristic signs of coughing, so it is important to discern it form just a minor cold. Symptoms vary depending on the type of COPD. There are many types of COPD, but the most common types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The production of excessive mucus characterizes chronic bronchitis, while emphysema causes wheezing. COPD causes short breaths, wheezing, and sensations of stiffness in the chest. With time COPD patients begin experiencing trouble getting sufficient oxygen. If you constantly look tired or feel lethargic and your fingernails or lips seem to be blue, then you may be having COPD.
Sometimes there is a misdiagnosis of COPD with the common cold, flu, pneumonia or basic respiratory infection. These are respiratory conditions characterized by frequent coughing. They have the same symptoms as COPD, which makes it challenging to make a diagnosis. COPD patients have a weakened immune system because of the lack of enough oxygen leaving prone to respiratory infections.
Difference between COPD and other respiratory conditions
COPD causes lung damage which makes it different from other conditions. Common conditions such a common cold and flu usually affect upper airways leading to breathing difficulties out of the throat and nasal passages. All these conditions result in coughing due to the need to clear air passages. COPD is progressive, unlike other conditions meaning that it gets worse with time.
You can’t tell that you have COPD after just one week of coughing. Wait for some weeks to know whether your cough persists to tell it is a result of common cold or COPD. If the chronic cough occurs every day and lasts over a month without clearing, then most likely it could be COPD.