Confusing COPD diagnosis after a fall

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I fainted getting out of bed about three months ago (don't remember getting out of bed but do remember seeing strange things - a swarm of bees in the corner of the room) sometime before. I was in absolute agony as I'd fallen like a plank and bounced off the wardrobes, rather than collapsing in a heap. Was taken to A&E who did blood tests, an ECG and brain scan which were all ok then sent me home with very strong painkillers. Twelve weeks later I still can't sleep through the night because of pain in my sides. There were three pressure points to begin with but now down to mostly one. Because 12 weeks is a long time for broken ribs, which is what I assumed the problem was, I went to my GP who sent me for an X-ray. He called me 2 days ago to say there were no breaks, but it did look as though I have COPD. I am so confused. I've never smoked (though parents were chain smokers). I don't have a cough, don't wheeze, I walk 30 mins a day, no problem. I do have a history of fainting and I have also recently had some bladder problems. And of  course I have this radiating dull pain mostly in my sides. Does this sound like COPD to you. I said I wasn't convinced and wondered whether I've just bruised my lungs from the fall.  He is going to go back to the radiologist to ask some more questions and then do spirometer tests, but from what I've read they're not as reliable as X-rays. Any advice greatly appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hi sorry to hear this.  Copd is normally diagnosed via a spirometry test or a CT scan.  Around 15% of sufferers have never smoked but some people are more sensitive than others to pollution.  Also if you work in certain trades ie construction,  rag trade etc. then this can cause it.

    As your parents chain smoked it is very likely how you got it.  Thankfully we are all now much more aware of the damage that can be done to children's lungs. 

    Wait until you get the spiromatory test and see how you get on.  This will measure your lung function and if this is below 90% (some say 80%) of the norm for your age,  weight,  sex and age then you could be considered to have copd.  It is by no means a death sentence despite what google will say and certainly in the earlier stages you can still live a healthy and productive long life.  It is progressive but it is very rare for it to progress quickly.  Eg I was diagnosed in my mid 50's as mild and 9 years later am still mild!  The doctor told me old age will get me before copd does.

    I hope you don't have it obviously and you do get some answers.  Take care.  x

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    • Posted

      Thank you. I'm 53 so similar age to you when you found out. My mum also has it and her decline has been very slow. Once she stopped smoking there was an almost overnight improvement. We got her onto electronic cigarettes to begin with and now she's off them altogether. As she's got older, her other problems - alzheimers and arthritis have kind of taken over and we almost forget sometimes about the COPD. I will be getting more tests and hopefully mine will be something less sinister! Good luck to you too.

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  • Posted

    It is usually a CT scan that will show COPD, not an x ray. Although you have never smoked passive smoking-you say your parents both smoked- can cause COPD.

    I smoked for a brief time but worked in the rag trade and worked with people who smoked regularly in a care home, and also all my family smoked!

    I wouldn't worry too much as it is unusual for an x ray to pick it up. Good luck.

     

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    • Posted

      Thanks - I will ask for some more tests. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Its so sad how people can be affected by others' smoking, but they just didn't know then how harmful it could be for them, let alone others. I haven't told my mum, she'd be devastated. All the best to you.

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    • Posted

      You were right. Another call from the doctor today - he went back to the radiologist to discuss the results and said that they now agreed it wasn't COPD! I'm just very bruised. And very, very pleased. Thank you for your support and encouraging words.

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