Symptoms of COPD
The first symptom of COPD is usually coughing that produces mucus, followed by shortness of breath after activities such as climbing the stairs or walking uphill. Many times a person experiencing difficulty breathing will cut back on activities that cause shortness of breath. Over time, these breathing difficulties usually get worse, and a person with COPD might eventually have trouble even dressing and bathing himself. He might get tired easily, lose the ability to concentrate, and put strain on his heart because his lungs are not processing enough oxygen. Strain on the heart can lead to swollen feet, ankles, and legs from water retention; this is called edema (i-dee-ma).
People with these conditions sometimes have a serious flare-up of symptoms, usually caused by an infection.
NOTE: The most difficult symptom of COPD to deal with is shortness of breath. People with COPD feel as if they have no control over their breathing and might die. They may become more and more anxious as it becomes harder to breathe. This is also the most difficult symptom for caregivers to deal with.