Between the 1930s-1950s, asthma was merely considered to be a psychological disorder and was treated with psychoanalysis. Thankfully today, enough research has taught us about the seriousness of respiratory illnesses and what warning signs and symptoms to look for before taking a trip to the doctor’s office.

Bright Side has researched some of the most common symptoms that can hint at an underlying respiratory or lung disorder which should be treated as soon as possible. Being precautious is always better than waiting until it’s too late.

1. You feel lethargic.

It’s pretty normal to feel tired and low on energy at the end of a long day, but what if it’s a sign of a respiratory disease? Most of the time, we tend to ignore such symptoms because of our hectic schedules and busy lifestyles, but if you start to notice a change in your body’s regular functions over a period of time, it’s probably time to visit the doctor’s office.

A leading cause of this type of tiredness is due to your body’s inability to produce enough oxygen in your cells, which is one of your body’s most regular tasks.

2. You feel out of breath.

Do you feel out of breath after a short walk or after going up just a couple of stairs? This can indicate a low oxygen level in your body, causing you to become breathless even after a short workout.

Also known as Dyspnea, this is one of the biggest symptoms of a developing lung infection. You may also face tachypnea (rapid breathing), or tachycardia (rapid heart rate) along with breathlessness. If you’re suffering from any of the above, don’t hesitate to get yourself checked out.

3. Loss of weight or appetite.

If you feel like you’re losing weight despite no change in your eating habits or exercise routine, you’d better take a closer look at why that’s happening. Sudden weight loss could be a sign of a progressing respiratory disorder.

If this change is related to your lungs’ disfunction in any way, it may not actually be body fat that you’re losing, but rather the muscles that losing mass.

4. You have a productive, painful cough.

If you’re coughing and it’s a forceful one, it’s probably time for you to visit a doctor. This is especially true if the cough is a productive one, in which case it’s a sure sign of increasing mucus and a possible lung infection. It’s generally wise to wait to see a doctor until about three weeks of having bad cough with no sign of improvement.

However, if you are coughing up blood or have a persistent fever accomanying it, you should seek a doctor immediately.

5. You have chest pain.

If you have had unexplained chest pain for a month or longer, it could be chronic chest pain. Many patients complain of an increase in pain in their chest area when they cough or or even when they breathe. This is a warning sign that something serious could be wrong that needs attention.

Another type of chest pain is known as pleuritic chest pain, wherein a patient complains of sharp pain on one side of the chest that increases with deep breathing. The chest may also feel tight, which needs to be examined for a heart or lung disorder.

6. Changes in mucus.

When sick, the amount of mucus in your body may increase, or could change its color and texture. It can even have a foul odor. If they persist, these symptoms are indications of a brewing respiratory and/or lung disease. Also called, sputum or phlegm, mucus is produced in the body as a defense mechanism to fight off infections and irritants. If there is a sudden increase in mucus that lasts for over a month, you should get examined by a doctor for any kinds of respiratory problems like chronic bronchitis.

7. It shows on your skin and cuticles.

If there is a respiratory disorder in the body, the skin will start showing signs of it before anything else. Some of the most common skin diseases that occur with respiratory disorders include Cyanosis (the blue coloration of mucus membranes), nail clubbing and Superior Vena Cava Syndrome (appearance of dilated veins on upper the chest). All these conditions develop due to insufficient oxygen in the body.

8. Wheezing.

Wheezing is a kind of whistling sound that can be heard while breathing and is a clear sign that something is blocking the airways in your lungs and making them narrow. If the airway is blocked, you will hear a shrieking sound when a person speaks or takes a breath.

This wheezing or whistling sound can also be caused by inflammation of the airways. This requires urgent attention.

9. Mild to high fever.

10. A stuffy nose.

The common cold is a nightmare for many, with irritating symptoms like a stuffy nose, sore throat and watery eyes. What if any of these symptoms like a stuffy nose stayed present for more than a week? Definitely sounds uncomfortable.

This might not be a basic prolonged illness, but rather an indication of an inflamed nasal passage. In general, adenoids along with tonsils block the incoming germs while breathing through the nose and mouth. However, a stuffed up nose can still be caused by a flu or even sinus infections and require urgent intervention. In extreme cases, it can also be non-cancerous nasal growths or benign tumors in the nasal passage.

11. Coughing accompanied by vomiting and dehydration.

An extreme cough followed by vomiting and dehydration are tell-tale signs of an underlying lung related health issue.

These symptoms could indicate the presence of several ailments which can only be monitored and remedied by a doсtor. While these conditions can begin with a dry mouth, you’ll want to get an immediate diagnosis before it starts affecting other organs as well.

12. Cyanosis – Skin turning blue

The discoloration is clearly visible when the skin turns pale bluish or purple on hands or around lips. This happens as the tissues near the skin surface are receiving a reduced amount of oxygen. This undersaturation of oxygen is a clear sign of a lung disease.

It’s very important to seek medical intervention as soon as you spot this preferably within 3-5 minutes, as the cyanosis could have been caused by severe circulatory failure.

It’s never a waste of time to stop and listen to what you’re body is telling you. A visit to the doctor won’t take much time and can save yourself from a lot of pain and permanent damage by doing so. Have you or anyone you know experienced any of the symptoms or ailments mentioned above? Tell us about it in the comments.

Illustrated by Oleg Guta and Ekaterina Gapanovich for Bright Side