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Signs of lung disease

Don't ignore these warnings

Lung diseases-like asthma-may have warning signs. Paying heed to them could alert you about a problem early, when treatment is most likely to be effective.

Below are some common warning signs of lung disease.  

Chronic cough: Coughing helps clear irritants from your airways and lungs. So coughing now and then is OK. But a cough that lasts a month or more is a problem.

Wheezing: Wheezing or whistling when you breathe indicates something is narrowing or even blocking your airways. It's one of the symptoms of asthma-and could even point to lung cancer.

New wheezing or wheezing that occurs with other symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath is a cause for concern.

Chronic mucus: Your airways make mucus as a defense against infections or irritants. But mucus production that lasts a month or longer is a cause for concern.

Shortness of breath: Being out of shape can make you short of breath. But breathlessness also can signal a lung or heart condition. It's one of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Shortness of breath that is unexpected based on the activity and your health is a cause for concern. So is breathing trouble that is persistent or gets in the way of your daily activities.

Chest pain: Chest pain can be caused by a number of serious conditions, including lung cancer and heart attacks.

Chest pain is a reason to get emergency medical care.

Coughing up blood: This includes reddish mucus. The blood could be coming from your lungs or somewhere in your upper respiratory tract. It can be a sign of tuberculosis or lung cancer.

Coughing up blood is a cause for concern.

Get help: If you have any of these signs, it's time to call your doctor. Take a drive over to the Lungs topic center to learn more about keeping your lungs healthy.

Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American Cancer Society; American Lung Association

Reviewed 10/6/2022

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