Symptoms

Symptoms of Emphysema

The primary symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath, although you can have emphysema for years without any signs or symptoms. Others will experience symptoms including:

  • Fatigue
  • Cough producing mucus or blood
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Swelling in the lower limbs
  • Weight loss

Often, people with emphysema will avoid activities that cause them to be short of breath, which may mask their symptoms. Eventually, emphysema will advance to the point where you experience shortness of breath even while at rest.

Other complications can include:

If you have had shortness of breath for several months, you should see your physician. If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention1‚Äč:

  • You are so short of breath that you cannot speak.
  • Your lips or fingernails are turning gray or blue.
  • Your heartbeat is very fast.
  • Your mental alertness is impaired.


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If you have back pain, leg pain, and changes in bowel and bladder habits, you should seek an immediate medical evaluation by your physician.

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