Be on alert for a new cough that lingers. A cough associated with a cold or respiratory infection will go away in a week or two, but a persistent cough that lingers can be a symptom of lung cancer.
Don’t be tempted to dismiss a stubborn cough, whether it’s dry or produces mucus. See your doctor right away. They will listen to your lungs and may order an X-ray or other tests.
Pay attention to any changes in a chronic cough, particularly if you smoke. If you’re coughing more often, your cough is deeper or sounds hoarse, or you’re coughing up blood or an unusual amount of mucus, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment.
If a family member or friend experiences these changes, suggest that they visit their doctor. Learn about the symptoms and causes of bronchorrhea.
Shortness of breath or becoming easily winded are also possible symptoms of lung cancer. Changes in breathing can occur if lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumor builds up in the chest.
Make a point of noticing when you feel winded or short of breath. If you find it difficult to breathe after climbing stairs or performing tasks you once found easy, don’t ignore it.
Lung cancer may produce pain in the chest, shoulders, or back. An aching feeling may not be associated with coughing. Tell your doctor if you notice any type of chest pain, whether it’s sharp, dull, constant, or intermittent.
You should also note whether it’s confined to a specific area or occurring throughout your chest. When lung cancer causes chest pain, the discomfort may result from enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis to the chest wall, the lining around the lungs, called pleura, or the ribs.
When airways become constricted, blocked, or inflamed, the lungs produce a wheezing or whistling sound when you breathe. Wheezing can be associated with multiple causes, some of which are benign and easily treatable.
However, wheezing is also a symptom of lung cancer, which is why it merits your doctor’s attention. Don’t assume that wheezing is caused by asthma or allergies. Have your doctor confirm the cause.
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