Awaiting, some confusing data plus massive anxiety, please help

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Almost 47, mom of 2 young kids, smoked on and off since 18, longest quit 3 years, but on and off all the time the last 15 years really.

Only 8 stone, usually fit but sports injury put me out of action. 3 bouts of pleuritic lung over many years, the last, in Nov should have been followed with an xray but wasn't thanks to covid. After that I quit for six months but got my heart broken & went back on cigs with a vengeance.... got awful 'cold' constant running nose, hacking, crackly cough, felt bad, (down/ tired), really desperate cough but felt like I wasn't clearing phlegm, blowing one nostril easily 30 times a day, breathiness, a 'heavy' breathless feeling in lungs when walking fast even though still able to walk fast just fine.... presumed it would resolve in days once i quit again.... but it didn't

Quickly realised something is different this time. Went to doc, he instantly told me this is serious, and possibly emphysema. Stethescope told him there are crackles in my lungs when breathing - BUT that finger test showed oxygen saturation of 99% so he said couldn't be emphysema, said maybe fibrosis.

Walked out the door, googled fibrosis of lungs... that one is fast and terminal.... but a doc on a Stop Smoking forum has since told me i can't have pulmonary fibrosis with saturation of 99% & it could just be a chest infection? Or mild emphysema


Chest xray yesterday ... no results yet. CT Scan in about a month.

On antibiotics, anti-histamines x 2, steroids, off cigs of course. Feeling slightly better

But desperately worried.... my kids are young, me coughing is already a background noise of their childhoods... I don't think I'm strong enough to deal with this.

Also what I'm reading suggests a constant nasal drip is one of the more serious side effects even after diagnosis - chronic bronchitis? (Dr Google again)

But my oxygen saturation was 99%, can that happen when you have copd or does it mean I can have something even worse? Or could that finger test not be very precise?

Clinging to hope that this is just a chest infection but doc (who seemed very kind but young) went straight to 'very serious' and I'm also aware I've coughed a lot anytime I've smoked for years... I have often been a heavy smoker. Crying as a I type.

Please advise.

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  • Edited

    If I have copd, will the overproduction of phlegm / nasal drip stop if I continue to stay off cigs? (which i will, no question of that). It's really scary that I"m resting etc but can still cough like that/ contantly clearing throat etc...... I feel ok this morning, but can wet cough really badly at will anytime. Anxiety is through the roof

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    • Posted

      Hopefully this will clear up with the proper treatment, but really do stay off the cigs.

      For the overproduction of phlegm / nasal drip, persistent cough, constantly clearly your throat and your anxiety levels, all these should be discussed with your doctor.

      Carbocisteine* can help keep the mucus thin and more easily coughed up (drinking plenty of water will also help with this.

      *your doctor can prescribe this.

      There are specific treatments for anxiety which you may need to consider taking, the doctor may prescribe for you, this is an important consideration as you are looking after young children.

      Also if you find your symptoms have not improved after completing your course of antibiotics you must go straight back to your doctor to communicate this.

      If you do not feel any improvement after taking ABs etc for over 2 months request a referral to a hospital consultant if you are not already seeing one by that time.

      All these things can be managed with prescribed medications, the problems arise when they are left untreated for any length of time.

      Once again all the best

      Eat nutritiously and drink plenty of water and be proactive in managing your anxiety and stress levels. Again, BLF and NHS + patient UK web pages will have information on this with further links to investigate.

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    • Edited

      Thank you so much for your reply. My anxiety levels really are beyond anything I've known before, and this comes after a very difficult year, so I know this must be addressed. Hoping this will all resolve, though four days into the antibiotics, steroids and anti-histamine treatments, I'm only feeling marginally better. But your reply is much appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hi Laleswimmer

    It could be that you have had and are recovering from a nasty chest infection which if its been going on for some time untreated can cause other problems.

    The results of your CT scan will reveal precisely what the problem is and do ask for a copy of this or if you are already registered with your surgery to view your test results on line.

    If anything is showing on the CT scan you should be referred to a specialist if there is cause for concern in that it will need a specialist care.

    You can have good blood oxygen saturation with emphysema / Bronchitis / COPD although I've not really known of a person with COPD or any other lung issue with a 99% blood oxygen level that is fantastic.

    The nasal drip if that is what you have could have been brought on by an untreated lung infection so great that you are having that treated now. Also if you have a sinus infection this will also need treating.

    Fantastic you have stopped smoking, do try to stay smoke free permanently now you have had this experience, as continuing to smoke can put you in a position where you will experience more lung infections, which can lead to more lung damage and a deterioration in lung function, so well done for stopping that habit.

    Try to remain calm and wait for CT scan results. mean time I would refrain from googling anything because you may not have what you are googling. Do finish the course of anti biotics and avoid alcohol when taking them as sometimes this can render them ineffective. Do drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.

    If you do get a diagnosis from the CT scan results, then I would recommend visiting the British Lung Foundation web pages and NHS or patient UK web pages concerning any lung condition.

    Do let us know the results of your CT scan when you have them.

    Best wishes,


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  • Edited

    And thanks again Vee22.

    I honestly believe that if I do manage to dodge this bullet, I am done with cigarettes for life. The horror of this.... I've managed to quit for weeks/ months/ years at a time before so I know I can just be rid of them. Sadly the doc told me that coming on & off them the way I did is actually the most dangerous way to smoke.

    Waiting and hoping for a morning when I wake up and my lungs (and mind) feel great. Sadly that's not today. But fingers crossed. Hope you are keeping relatively well yourself.

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