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Monday, October 12, 2009

Early warning signs of COPD

We asthmatics have a list of early warning signs of an impending asthma attack, and when we observe any of these signs we have an Asthma Action Plan that helps us decide what to do, what medicines to take, and when to call our doctors or an ambulance.

Since Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is similar in many ways to asthma, there are similar early warning signs that you can watch out for. When you observe the following signs you know you need to take immediate action*:
  • Increased shortness of breath with exertion (while walking or doing normal daily activities)
  • Increased shortness of breath at rest (a sign of severe exacerbation)
  • Increased cough
  • Increased mucus production
  • Increase in thickness of mucus produced
  • Thick yellow sputum
  • Chest tightness
  • Increased wheeziness
  • cold-like symptoms
  • chest pain
  • insomnia
  • irritibility or restlessness
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • general feeling of ill health
  • ankle swelling
  • unexplained increase or decrease in weight
  • using more pillows to keep your head up to help you breathe at night
  • sleeping in a recliner instead of a bed to help you breathe
  • increased morning headaches
  • increased dizzi spells
  • Urinary incontinence
*I gathered this list from a variety of the best COPD websites and books and my own experience with COPD patients. However, my favorite list is the one at

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