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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of LAM?

The uncontrolled growth of LAM cells and their effect on nearby body tissues causes the signs and symptoms of LAM. The most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during activity. At first, shortness of breath may occur only during high-energy activities. Over time, you may have trouble breathing during simple activities, such as dressing and showering.
  • Chest pain or aches. This pain might be worse when you breathe in.
  • Frequent cough. This may occur with bloody phlegm (a sticky fluid).
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe).

Other signs and symptoms of LAM include:

  • Pneumothorax, or collapsed lung. In LAM, a pneumothorax can occur if lung cysts rupture through the lining of a lung. Air that collects in the space between the lung and chest wall must be removed to reinflate the lung.
  • Pleural effusions. This condition can occur if bodily fluids collect in the space between the lung and the chest wall. Often the fluid contains a milky substance called chyle (kile). The excess fluid in the chest may cause shortness of breath because the lung has less room to expand.
  • Blood in the urine. This sign may occur in women who have kidney tumors called angiomyolipomas.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes. These usually occur in the abdomen or the chest. Very rarely, enlarged lymph nodes may occur in locations where they can be felt, such as the neck or under the arms.
  • Abdominal swelling, sometimes with pain.
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet.

Other diseases also can cause many of these signs and symptoms. If you’re having any of these problems, see your doctor. He or she can help find the cause of your symptoms.

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LAM Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for LAM, visit

December 26, 2013 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.