BENGALURU: Lungs are essential organs that enable us to breathe and oxygenate our bodies. Maintaining lung health is crucial for overall well-being. However, lung diseases can develop silently, often without noticeable symptoms until they reach an advanced stage. Recognising early warning signs of lung disease is vital for timely intervention and treatment.
● Persistent Cough
A cough that lasts for more than three weeks should raise concern. While coughing can be caused by various factors, including infections and allergies, it can also be an early indication of lung disease. Chronic coughing could signal chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or even lung cancer. A smoker’s cough is often an early morning cough. Asthma is precipitated with allergens and may have onset from an early age. Chronic cough should invariably be investigated for any grave condition.
● Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath, medically known as dyspnea, can be a warning sign of lung disease. If you are struggling to catch your breath during routine activities or at rest, it’s essential to seek medical attention. Shortness of breath may be caused by conditions like asthma, COPD, or pulmonary fibrosis, among others.
● Chest Pain
Chest pain can be linked to lung conditions, especially when it is persistent and not related to a specific injury. Conditions like pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around the lungs) or lung cancer can cause chest pain.
● Coughing Up Blood
Hemoptysis, or coughing up blood, is a serious symptom that should not be ignored. This can be a sign of lung cancer, bronchitis, or even a pulmonary embolism. If you experience this symptom, consult a doctor immediately.
● Chronic Mucus Production
Excessive mucus production, especially if it lasts for several weeks, can be indicative of lung problems. Conditions like chronic bronchitis, asthma, or COPD can cause increased mucus production which can lead to chest congestion and respiratory infections.
Wheezing, a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing, is often associated with lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, or bronchitis.
● Unexplained Fatigue
When your lungs are not functioning optimally, your body may receive less oxygen, causing increased weakness. Fatigue can result from anaemia, cardiac ailment and various lung conditions, and it’s crucial to address this symptom promptly.
● Unintended Weight Loss
Significant, unexplained weight loss should be taken seriously. It can be a symptom of several conditions, including lung cancer, where the body expends extra energy fighting the disease.
● Finger Clubbing
Finger clubbing is a condition where the fingertips become enlarged and the nails curve around the fingertips could be crucial worrisome symptom. It can be a sign of lung disease, including lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, or interstitial lung disease and often seen in lung diseases related to smoking.
Recognising these warning signs is crucial for early intervention. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important not to ignore them and consult a healthcare professional promptly.
Regular check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding tobacco can prevent lung diseases.
(The writer is senior director of medical oncology and hemato-oncology, Fortis Hospitals, Richmond Road)