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COPD Awareness Month: The Top 5 Most Common COPD Symptoms

Posted by Caleb Umstead on Nov 5, 2014 4:32:35 PM



November is National COPD Awareness Month. Raising awareness for the third leading cause of death in the United States is an important thing for everyone, whether you are directly affected by the disease or not. The first step to raising awareness is to become educated on the subject. Today we will cover the top 5 most common COPD symptoms.

COPD is a progressive disease that gets worse with time. Also known as "The Silent Killer", COPD, generally starts out as nagging symptoms that can be attributed to a number of different illnesses like the common cold, flu, and even old age. In 2011, it was estimated that 12.7 million U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) suffer from COPD, but up to as many as 24 million U.S. adults showed signs of impaired lung function. With just half of the possible COPD cases in the United States being diagnosed, there are many patients suffering without properly treating the disease. 

Although the first signs of COPD symptoms overlap with a number of different illnesses and old age, it's important to be vigilant and stay in-tune with your body. By recognizing the symptoms and speaking with your doctor, you will be able to either, eliminate COPD as a possible cause or start treating and managing the disease.

Top 5 Most Common COPD Symptoms


We aren't talking about a tickle in the back of your throat cough. The cough associated with COPD is a chronic cough that lasts at least 3 months out of the year for 2 consecutive years. Also known as "Smoker's Cough" this chronic cough may also produce more mucus than normal. 

Excess Mucus/Phlegm

Co-existing with a chronic cough, you may notice your body is producing more mucus/phlegm than usual. The mucus can be clear, white, yellow, or greenish in color and it can leave you feeling like you need to constantly clear your throat, especially in the morning. You may notice you are coughing mucus up on a regular basis.

Excessive Fatigue

When you suffer from COPD, your blood oxygen levels dip below the level that your body requires to function effectively and efficiently. One major symptom of oxygen deprivation is excessive fatigue or daytime sleepiness. It occurs on multiple levels of COPD. You may notice things that were once second nature begin to take more effort and leave you feeling tired. 

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is a commonly overlooked symptom of COPD. Many times it gets brushed under the rug as being attributed to old age or a common cold. It is more noticeable when you are doing some sort of physical activity, but it may also be noticeable during normal activities. 


Wheezing is very very common in COPD patients. When you are wheezing, it means air is having a hard time moving in and out of your lungs. It can be caused by swelling in your lungs or mucus build up that is blocking your airways. Wheezing is an easy symptom to pick up on.

If you notice any of the above symptoms either alone or along with other symptoms on this list, be vigilant and speak with your doctor. It is important to treat COPD as early as possible in order to manage your symptoms and have the highest quality of life possible. If you have any questions feel free to comment below, and to help raise awareness about COPD please remember to share this on your social media profiles.

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