How do symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) vary between the two types?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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In the chronic bronchitis group, classic symptoms include the following:

  • Productive cough, with progression over time to intermittent dyspnea

  • Frequent and recurrent pulmonary infections

  • Progressive cardiac/respiratory failure over time, with edema and weight gain

In the emphysema group, the history is somewhat different and may include the following set of classic symptoms:

  • A long history of progressive dyspnea with late onset of nonproductive cough

  • Occasional mucopurulent relapses

  • Eventual cachexia and respiratory failure

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