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What happens when someone with emphysema or chronic bronchitis catches a cold?

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When you have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, you already have some difficulty breathing because of the damaged airways in your lungs. Catching a cold along with COPD can make breathing even harder and cause the following:

  • More phlegm
  • Thicker or more sticky phlegm
  • Change in phlegm color to yellow or green
  • Blood in the phlegm
  • Severe shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing
  • A general feeling of ill health
  • Hard time sleeping because of cough and breathing problems

SOURCES: American Lung Association: ''Need Help For Treatment Decisions with COPD?'' and ''Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Fact Sheet.'' The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: ''COPD: Learn to Breathe Better.'' Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD): GOLD Guidelines At-A-Glance Desk Reference.


Reviewed by Paul Boyce on March 15, 2019

SOURCES: American Lung Association: ''Need Help For Treatment Decisions with COPD?'' and ''Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Fact Sheet.'' The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: ''COPD: Learn to Breathe Better.'' Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD): GOLD Guidelines At-A-Glance Desk Reference.


Reviewed by Paul Boyce on March 15, 2019

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Why is it a problem for people with emphysema or chronic bronchitis to catch a cold?

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