Symptoms of COPD

Patients with COPD exhibit a range of symptoms that lead to diagnosis of the disease.

Cough is usually the first symptom to develop, intermittently at first and then becoming more persistent.1 Cough may also be associated with sputum as a result of damaged airways generating abnormal volumes of mucus.

Patients usually become concerned when they develop breathlessness and/or wheezing as this can be distressing and prevent them from undertaking normal daily tasks like walking up stairs with ease.

Patients with COPD are also vulnerable to chest infections or exacerbations and may experience wheezing, additional breathlessness and discoloured sputum during such episodes.

Other common symptoms in patients with severe disease include fatigue, depression, weight loss, anorexia, chest pain and swollen ankles.2 COPD is confirmed by performing a simple spirometry test to assess the FEV1/FVC ratio and allow classification of disease severity.2


  1. World Health Organization. COPD Fact Sheet No 315. 2011.
  2. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD): Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of COPD. 2011.

Risk factors for COPD

Find out which risk factors are associated with COPD.Go

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