COPD in Non-Smokers: Early Symptoms and Risk Factors

As the name suggests, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term, progressive lung disease that causes obstructed airflow to the lungs. While smoking is a major risk factor, non-smokers can also develop COPD, often due to exposure to pollutants or genetics. If you are a non-smoker, it’s important to be aware of the early warning signs of COPD. Here are five early symptoms to look out for:

1. Excessive mucus
If you find yourself coughing up mucus on a regular basis, it could be a sign of COPD. This is because COPD causes inflammation in the lungs, which leads to an increase in mucus production. This excess mucus can make it harder to breathe and may even cause wheezing

2. Wheezing and shortness of breath
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when you breathe. It can be a sign of COPD, especially if it’s accompanied by shortness of breath. You may find that you get out of breath more easily than usual, or that you have to stop and catch your breath after climbing a flight of stairs

3. Chronic cough
A persistent cough is another early warning sign of COPD. This is because COPD irritates the airways, which can lead to a chronic cough. You may find that your cough is worse in the morning, or that it gets worse when you’re exposed to certain triggers, such as cold air or dust

4. Unexplained fatigue and low energy
COPD can also cause fatigue and low energy levels. This is because your body has to work harder to breathe when you have COPD, which can be tiring. You may find that you feel tired even after a good night’s sleep, or that you don’t have the energy to do the things you used to enjoy

5. Recurrent respiratory infections
If you find that you’re getting respiratory infections more frequently than usual, it could be a sign of COPD. This is because COPD weakens the immune system, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to take hold. You may find that you get frequent colds, or that you have more severe symptoms when you do get sick

If you’re experiencing any of these early warning signs of COPD, it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider. They can perform a lung function test and evaluate your symptoms to determine if you have COPD. Depending on your diagnosis, your healthcare provider may recommend treatments such as the Stiolto Respimat Inhaler or TRELEGY inhaler, or alpha 1 antitrypsin as a risk of COPD. In some cases, the use of portable oxygen concentrators may also be recommended to help with breathing. By catching COPD early and getting proper treatment, you can help prevent the disease from progressing and improve your quality of life.

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