Warning Signs of Lung Disease

If you have any of these warning signs or symptoms, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Chronic Cough - A cough that you have had for a month is chronic.  This is an important early symptom.  It tells you something is wrong with your respiratory system.
Shortness of Breath - Shortness of breath that doesn’t go away after exercising, or that you have after little or no exertion, is not normal.  Labored or difficult breathing – the feeling that it is hard to breathe in or breathe out - is also a warning sign.
Chronic Mucus Production - Mucus, also called sputum or phlegm, is produced by the airways.  It is a defense response to infections or irritants.  If your mucus production has lasted a month, this could indicate lung disease.
Wheezing - Noisy breathing or wheezing is a sign that something unusual is blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow.
Coughing up Blood - If you are coughing up blood, the blood may be coming from your lungs or upper respiratory tract.  Whatever the source of the blood, it is a sign of a health problem.
Chronic Chest Pain – Unexplained chest pain that lasts for a month or more – especially if it gets worse when you breathe in or cough – can also be a warning sign.

Prepare for a Visit

  1. Take a copy of your medical records with you. Or, see if your previous healthcare provider can send a copy.  If you are unable to obtain your medical records, you can also write a short note about your health problems, when they occurred, and the healthcare provider(s) that took care of you.
  2. Make a list of all the medicines that you are using now.  This means prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, as well as, herbs and supplements and any non-traditional methods you use to treat your condition.
  3. Make a list of all the healthcare providers you see and why you see them. 
  4. Make a list of the symptoms you are having and tell which ones bother you the most.  Also, write down when they started and what you have done (if anything) to make them better.

Download the “Getting Ready for Your Next Office Visit Worksheet” to help you prepare for you next office visit.

Lung HelpLine
Call the toll free American Lung Association Lung HelpLine
Free counseling with our Registered Nurses, Respiratory Therapists & Quit Smoking Specialists.
When looking for answers to lung health questions, the Lung HelpLine will provide you with immediate, clear and accurate information.
1-800-LUNGUSA (586-4872)
Monday – Friday 7am – 7 pm (Central time)
TTY for hearing impaired 1-800-501-1068

The American Lung Association has been helping people with lung disease breathe easier for over 100 years.  Learn more about disease treatment options, patient education programs, and advocacy activities.