If your asthma symptoms worsen it could mean youre at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the signs of COPD include an ongoing cough that produces large amounts of mucus shortness of breath wheezing when you breathe and tightness in your chest. This condition could also leave you open to frequent colds or the flu, plus you could experience swelling in your ankles, feet or legs. COPD is most often caused by excessive tobacco smoking or contact with irritants such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes or dust. NHLBI recommends pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy to help reduce the severity of COPD.