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Introduction to Symptoms of Lung Disorders

By Noah Lechtzin, MD, MHS

Disorders that affect the lungs and airways are called lung, respiratory, or pulmonary disorders. Among the most common symptoms of lung disorders are cough (see Cough in Adults), shortness of breath (dyspnea—see Shortness of Breath), and wheezing (see Wheezing). Less commonly, a blockage in the airways between the mouth and lungs results in a gasping sound when breathing (stridor—see Stridor). Problems in the lungs can also lead to coughing up of blood (hemoptysis—see Coughing Up Blood), a bluish discoloration of the skin due to a lack of oxygen in the blood (cyanosis—see Cyanosis), or chest pain. Prolonged lung disease can even cause changes in other parts of the body, including finger clubbing (see Clubbing). Some of these symptoms do not always indicate a lung problem. For example, chest pain (see Chest or Back Pain) may also result from a heart or digestive disorder, and shortness of breath can be caused by a heart or blood disorder.

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