Other conditions with symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

While chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an extremely common disorder, its symptoms—shortness of breath or cough—are found in many other conditions. These conditions include:

  • Heart failure . Heart failure may result in fluid collecting in the lungs (pulmonary edema), which leads to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) . Shortness of breath is common in CAD.
  • Pulmonary embolism . A pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) can result in sudden shortness of breath.
  • Bronchiectasis . Bronchiectasis can have the same symptoms as chronic bronchitis, such as a long-lasting cough.
  • Bronchiolitis . Symptoms of bronchiolitis include persistent shortness of breath, cough, and wheezing.
  • Interstitial lung disease. The interstitial lung diseases (ILD) are a group of disorders whose symptoms include cough and shortness of breath.
  • Disorders that affect the muscles of the body. Conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and myasthenia gravis affect the function of the lungs and can result in shortness of breath.
  • Asthma. Symptoms of asthma include difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Obstruction of the airways. An obstruction of the airways in the lungs can make breathing difficult. Obstructions can include airway stenosis (narrowing) due to scars, tumors, and foreign objects, such as a peanut.

Last Updated: May 8, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS & Cynthia Tank

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology

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