Understanding the First Signs of Emphysema

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in seven U.S. adults, from middle age to advanced age, suffer from a lung disorder. While as many as 10 percent of those people have mild cases, lung issues are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

People who have common lung diseases, like asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have reduced air flow, which causes shortness of breath. No matter what your age, shortness of breath can impact your daily life and limit your ability to participate in activities you enjoy. Seniors who live in communities, like Lakeland Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, are in the care of experts with experience supporting symptoms of these diseases and helping to maintain a lifestyle they enjoy.

If you or a loved one may have a lung disease, it helps to understand the first signs of COPD in seniors, as well as the first signs of emphysema and how to find the support you need on your health journey.

What are the First Signs of COPD in Seniors?

In the early stages, COPD may be mild enough that you do not experience or notice any symptoms. Overall, symptoms vary from person to person; however, the disease is progressive and the first signs of COPD in seniors often include:

  • A chronic cough (meaning a cough that persists for longer than two months)
  • Producing too much mucus
  • Tiredness and shortness of breath

Because your lungs are in a weakened state, COPD patients are more susceptible to chest infections, such as pneumonia, the common cold and the flu. As the disease progresses, you might exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Swelling in the lower legs
  • Unintentional weight loss

What are the First Signs of Emphysema?

Emphysema is one of the most commonly known diseases of the lungs and it is a type of COPD. The most common cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to irritants that can damage your lungs, such as tobacco smoke. The disease causes breathing to become more difficult over time. So, what are the first signs of emphysema? Those include:

  • A cough that produces a large amount of mucus
  • Frequent coughing or a cough that wheezes
  • Tightness of the chest
  • A squeaky sound when you breathe
  • Shortness of breath, especially during or after physical activity

It is common for people with emphysema to frequently get sick with respiratory infections, like the flu or a cold. In severe cases of emphysema, patients can have weakness in the lower muscles, swelling in the ankles, legs or feet and weight loss.

Finding Care and Comfort

At Lakeland Rehabilitation, our focus is to help you or your loved one to reach established health goals, in a safe environment, by following a personalized care plan. We work closely with your specialty doctors, personal physician and your family to create an individual plan based on your health goals and your lifestyle. From our fitness programs to our on-site salon and barber shop, we are ready to provide you with a healing experience for your mind, body and spirit.

Contact us today to schedule a tour and learn more about our services and our community.