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Overview of Symptoms of Lung Disorders

By

Rebecca Dezube

, MD, MHS, Johns Hopkins University

Reviewed/Revised Nov 2023
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION

Doctors may suspect a problem with the lungs or airways based on symptoms. Symptoms of lung disorders often affect breathing and may include

Symptoms that affect other parts of the body may also suggest a lung disorder is present. People with a lung disorder may have

Some of these symptoms do not always indicate a lung problem. For example, chest pain Chest or Back Pain Pain in the middle of the chest or upper back can result from disorders of the esophagus or from disorders of the heart or aorta ( see Chest Pain). Symptoms may be similar. Gastroesophageal... read more may also result from a heart or digestive disorder, and shortness of breath can be caused by a heart or blood disorder.

Other, more general symptoms, such as fever, weakness, fatigue, or a general feeling of illness or discomfort (malaise), sometimes also reflect a lung or airway disorder. Some symptoms, such as cough or wheezing, may indicate a lung disorder. Disorders that affect the nerves or muscles, such as myasthenia gravis Myasthenia Gravis Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that impairs communication between nerves and muscles, resulting in episodes of muscle weakness. Myasthenia gravis results from malfunction of the... read more and Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) Guillain-Barré syndrome is a form of polyneuropathy causing muscle weakness, which usually worsens over a few days to weeks, then slowly improves or returns to normal on its own. With treatment... read more , cause weakness of the respiratory muscles and lung symptoms.

Respiratory symptoms may be minor (such as a cough caused by a cold) or life threatening (such as severe breathing difficulty).

The characteristics and pattern of symptoms help doctors diagnose the lung disorder.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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