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Signs & symptoms

People with COPD usually have one or more of these symptoms:

  • a cough that lasts a long time, or coughing up "stuff" (mucus)
  • feeling short of breath, especially when you are making an effort (climbing stairs, exercising)
  • many lung infections that last a long time (the flu, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.)
  • wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • feeling tired (fatigue)
  • losing weight without trying

People might think that feeling short of breath is a normal sign of aging— but it's not. If you have these signs and symptoms, see your doctor. Ask for spirometry, a simple test that measures how much air you can move out of your lungs.

The sooner you see the doctor, the sooner you can get proper treatment for your COPD.

If you are over 40 and currently smoke, or you've smoked in the past, you may be at risk for COPD. Take the Canadian Lung Health Test to see if you have signs and symptoms of COPD.

Signs and symptoms of a COPD flare-up

People who already have COPD can have flare-ups (exacerbations) — times when their COPD gets a lot worse. Learn the warning signs of COPD flare-ups, and how to treat and prevent them.

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