Respiratory symptoms

If you get out of breath doing things you used to be able to do, or you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, it could be a sign of lung or heart disease, or even cancer. Finding it early makes it more treatable. So don’t ignore it, tell your doctor.

The advice is part of a new Be Clear On Cancer campaign run by the Department of Health and Public Health England which encourages men and women aged 50 and over to see their doctor if they get out of breath or have a persistent cough.

Research in preparation for the campaign has shown that many people don’t think that a persistent cough or breathlessness are serious symptoms. They may put their symptoms down to smoking, for example.

In particular, people who suffer from breathlessness may find coping mechanisms for their condition, for example taking breaks when walking, rather than go to their GP. As well as smoking, they may also put their breathlessness down to getting older or being overweight. This means that they do not get the opportunity to be examined, tested, diagnosed and given the appropriate treatment.

One of the objectives of this campaign is to increase awareness that getting out of breath while doing everyday activities or a persistent cough could be a sign of something more serious. So, rather than finding ways to cope, those affected should go and see their doctor.

So remember, it is very important to see your doctor if you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, or if you get out of breath doing things you used to be able to do, such as vacuuming or mowing the lawn.

Search Be Clear On Cancer or visit www.nhs.uk/be-clear-on-cancer.