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Lung Diseases

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Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms associated with lung disease will vary from person to person and change over time. With chronic conditions, symptoms often emerge gradually and grow progressively worse. With acute conditions, symptoms may be mild to severe. Some may be life-threatening without prompt medical attention. While each disease will have its own characteristics, there are common signs and symptoms that are seen with many lung disorders. Examples include:

  • Persistent cough and shortness of breath or labored breathing (dyspnea)
  • Wheezing, gasping for breath 
  • Coughing up mucus, blood or sputum
  • Chest pain
  • People with obstructive lung conditions such as COPD may have trouble exhaling; some describe it as "like trying to breathe through a straw."
  • Lack of oxygen may cause an affected person's skin to have a bluish tint.
  • Over time, oxygen deficiency may lead to clubbing in some people, an enlargement of the fingertips and abnormal fingernail growth.

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