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Lung Disease Warning Signs

Lung Disease Warning Signs

When is a cough more than a nuisance? If you’re still experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to talk with your doctor.

  • Chronic Cough – A cough lasting a month or longer is chronic. It's an important signal indicating problems with your breathing system, regardless of age.
  • Shortness of Breath – Shortness of breath continuing after a brief rest following normal exercise - or develops with little or no exertion - isn't normal. Labored breathing, the sensation of difficulty in drawing air or exhaling is also a warning sign.
  • Chronic Mucus Production – Mucus, also called sputum or phlegm, is produced by the airways as a defense against infections or irritants. If your mucus production continues for a month, it may indicate lung disease.
  • Wheezing – "Noisy breath" or wheezing indicates that something unusual is blocking your lungs' airways or narrowing them unnaturally.
  • Coughing Up Blood – Blood being coughed up may originate from your lungs or upper respiratory tract. Whatever the source, it signals a health problem.
  • Chronic Chest Pain – Unexplained chest pain lasting a month or more - especially if it worsens with breathing or coughing - can also be a warning sign. The degree of pain may vary over a wide range, but its persistence over a month or more is a key factor as it relates to possible lung disease. 

These warning signs may also mean you’re appropriate for low-dose lung cancer screening. Those who are highest risk for lung cancer and are ideal candidates for screening include:

  • current or former smokers 
  • people ages 55-77 who have smoked for 30 years (one pack per day or more) 
  • people who quit smoking within the last 15 years (one pack per day or more)

When lung cancer is detected at a very early stage, it may be more likely to be cured. Low-dose CT lung cancer scan has shown to improve survival by 20 percent according to The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Insurance may cover CT lung cancer screenings. Call 423-495-LUNG (5864) for more information.

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