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Signs of lung disease

Don't ignore these warnings

Lung diseases—like asthma—may have warning signs. Paying heed to them could alert you about a problem early, when treatment is most likely to be effective.

Below are some common warning signs of lung disease. Flip each sign to learn more about what it might mean.

Chronic cough: Coughing helps clear irritants from your airways and lungs. So coughing now and then is OK. But a cough that lasts a month or more is a problem.

Wheezing: Wheezing or whistling when you breathe indicates something is narrowing or even blocking your airways. It's one of the symptoms of asthma—and could even point to lung cancer.

New wheezing or wheezing that occurs with other symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath is a cause for concern.

Chronic mucus: Your airways make mucus as a defense against infections or irritants. But mucus production that lasts a month or longer is a cause for concern.

Shortness of breath: Being out of shape can make you short of breath. But breathlessness also can signal a lung or heart condition. It's one of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Shortness of breath that is unexpected based on the activity and your health is a cause for concern. So is breathing trouble that is persistent or gets in the way of your daily activities.

Chest pain: Chest pain can be caused by a number of serious conditions, including lung cancer and heart attacks.

Chest pain is a reason to get emergency medical care.

Coughing up blood: This includes reddish mucus. The blood could be coming from your lungs or somewhere in your upper respiratory tract. It can be a sign of tuberculosis or lung cancer.

Coughing up blood is a cause for concern.

Get help: If you have any of these signs, it's time to call your doctor. Take a drive over to the Lungs topic center to learn more about keeping your lungs healthy.

Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American Cancer Society; American Lung Association

reviewed 8/13/2018

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