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Lung Health – Know The Signs of Danger

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD December 16, 2018

Introduction

This post addresses lung health! I would suggest you should be in complete awe of your lungs. Did you know you take over 20,000 breaths a day? Your lungs bring air into your body and eliminates waste (carbon dioxide) when you exhale. The lungs transfer oxygen into the bloodstream and launches it throughout body’s cells as life-sustaining fuel. This Straight, No Chaser skips ahead in the process of lung function to discuss the relevance of everyday symptoms you experience as signals of danger.

Concerning Signs and Symptoms

If you have any of these warning signs or symptoms, discuss them with your physician as soon as possible.

Chronic Cough

chronic cough

In this definition, chronic means the cough has been present for at least a month.  This is an important early symptom and should not be ignored – smokers, that means you.

Shortness of Breath

To be clear: you expect to be short of breath after you exercise or otherwise exert yourself. The shortness of breath that should be particularly concerning doesn’t go away after exercising or occurs after little or no exertion. The feeling that it is hard to breathe in or out is also a warning sign and is also indicative of respiratory illness.

Chronic Mucus Production

mucus asthma

Mucus (aka sputum or phlegm) is produced by the airways as a defense response to infections or irritants.  Ongoing production for more than a month could indicate lung disease.

Wheezing

wheezing

Wheezing is often described as noisy or musical breathing and is a sign that something blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow, such as a physical obstruction, inflammation or increased mucus production.

Coughing up Blood

coughing-up-blood

If you are coughing up blood, the blood may be coming from your lungs or higher up in your respiratory tract. It is a sign of a health problem.

Chronic Chest Pain

chest-pain chronic

Chest pain lasting more than a month should be taken as a warning sign. Lung involvement is more likely if it is associated with worsening while breathing or coughing.

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