According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the most common signs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease include chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, constant cough or a cough that produces a lot of mucus. COPD is also associated with frequent colds or the flu.
Severe symptoms of COPD can include swelling in the legs and feet, weight loss, blue lips or fingers, and difficulty talking at a normal pace, as outlined by the NHLBI. If an individual experiences a heart rate that is very high, has blue lips or fingers, or difficulty breathing, he should seek emergency care. The NHLBI recommends reducing exposure to anything that could cause a flare up to reduce the impact that COPD has on daily life.
The COPD Foundation states that individuals working in industrial environments, who smoke cigarettes, live close to industrial environments, or have a family history of COPD are at the highest risk for developing COPD. The American Lung Association recommends quitting or not starting smoking, and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke and fumes as preventative methods for COPD. For those working in industrial environments, the ALA also recommends consulting the company's health and safety advisor for access to material-safety data sheets for information about how to protect oneself from chemicals, fumes and dust.