COPD?

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I am 49 years old,  was asthmatic as a child ( but thought I had 'grown out of it')  and throughout my life have had two periods of smoking - probably around 10 per day for approx 2 years each time.  I do not smoke now.  I have recently had a long irritable cough which lasted for months.. no mucus. I was given a spirometer test and the nurse said that it showed early COPD.  However, even though the nurse said that the machine was infallible,  due to my lifestyle factors & age (I presume)

the nurse referred the results to my GP who overturned the results and said that I have asthma not COPD.   I have a steroid and ventolin inhaler which I only use when needed (before exercise).  I am extremely worried that I do have COPD .. I am incredibly unfit and become breathless just walking up a slight hill - which two years ago wouldn't affect me. However, after using the inhalers everyday for a few weeks, I no longer have the cough. I rarely exercise so wonder if my breathlessness is caused by being so unfit.   Should I ask for another opinion  as to whether I have COPD or asthma?  Is there anything I can do to delay the onset of COPD - IF I have it?  If I have COPD should I be doing anything to help my condition ?  I am worried that being treated as an asthmatic rather than having COPD (if I have it)  will have negative long-term effects,  any advice please?

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  • Posted

    Cathy,

    Sorry to hear about your problems and the anxiety that it is causing with "opposing" diagnosis, you don't need that.

    I was diagnosed with COPD some three years ago although my GP suspected a heart problem originally with the symptoms I presented, so I understand your frustration.

    Unfortunatly as you will have been told COPD is irreversible and can only get worse with time.

    I have found that the single most contrbuton I can make to my own well-being is EXCERCISE.  It's hard, because the natural reaction is to be frightened of becoming breathless, and therfore hold back.  However "pushing" yourself once a day with VERY brisk (power) walking does give long term benefits.

    Ask your GP (or better still Practice Nurse) if your local authority provides pulmonary Rehab facilites (supervised excercise usually at the local hospital).

    You will also meet other COPD sufferers who can give tremendous support as well.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for the reply.  Yes I have been very nervous about exercising as my breathlessness is getting worse.  I will push forward though and hopefully this will have a positive result.  I am going to ask for a 2nd opinion ..or see a specialist as you have suggested.  Thank you .
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  • Posted

    I would ask for a second opinion.  This happened to my husband, his Gp kept telling him he was unfit and to exercise more, he could not exercise more as he could not breathe, He told my husband to walk up hills to get fit, my husband could hardly walk from the car to the surgery without getting out of breath. Because he kept going back to the doctors and telling him that he was not well the GP said it was all in his mind and he was referring him to Mental Health.  I went ballistic and told the GP in no uncertain terms that we were going private, the doctor then said, there is no need for that, but I think it may be your heart that is causing the problem so he did an ECG and told my husband he had had a heart attack.  He was sent straight to the heart clinic where they did a test and said rubbish, he has not had a heart attack, they did some more tests and two weeks later he was told he had COPD and was referred to the specialist at the chest clinic.  He wasted two years of treatment because of the GP who then retired otherwise we would have sued his flaming socks off.   If you are worrying about something then get answers.  You tell them you want to go private for a second opinion and they will send you via the NHS, because they are terrified they just might be wrong.  Good luck from someone who has no faith whatsoever in GP's.
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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for the reply.  You are right, I need to get answers as I am worrying about this .    I am really sorry to hear about your husband's experiences, I hope he is receiveing the best possible care right now and I wish you both well .  Thank you loads for taking the time to reply
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  • Posted

    Hello.  If I were you, I would ask to be referred to a pulmonary consultant, who can probably arrange more in depth lung function tests and possibly chest xrays/CT scans.  I have recently been diagnosed with COPD, after being referred to such a consultant; my GP had been sure that I just had asthma, but this was not the case.  I have asthma and COPD and I have never smoked.  However, since the diagnosis, I have been given a new steroid inhaler which seems to be helping my breathing and I am hoping that my next lung function tests in a few weeks' time will show a slight improvement.  In my experience, fear of the unknown is much worse than a definite diagnosis, whatever it is.  Once you know what you are dealing with, you can take steps to improve your situation or, at least, maintain the lung function you do have.  In the meantime, if you can try to introduce more exercise to your regime and eat a healthy diet (which may help reduce any inflammation in the lungs), that can't do you any harm.  Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as sufficient protein in your diet, should help boost your immune system as well improve your overall health and fitness.  I wish you lots of luck.  Try to stay positive as much as you can, as worrying is counter-productive, uses lots of mental and emotional energy, taps into the body's energy levels and wont change the end result whatever that may be.  I shall keep my fingers crossed for you xxx
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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply and advice.  I have been nervous of exercising due to the worsening breathlessnessc-  but I will push forward with my walking.  I will ask to be referred,  I was reluctant to do this as I felt that the nurse kind of dismissed my concerns at the time and I didn't want to appear to be over-dramatic.  I was really upset .  Thank you so much for taking time to reply xx
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  • Posted

    Hi Cathy ,first of all ,,,don't panic, I'm 69 and was diagnosed with asthma in 1992. I am an x smoker ,,,I stopped in 1992 when I was diagnosed ,and I still here enjoying a good life,so stop worrying ,

    I would suggest you ask your GP to refer you to pulmary rehab ,it's education on breathing problems and slight exersise,,,,I have to stress that exersise is very important ,yes you will get out of breath but it's nothing to worry about ,the whole idea of exersise is to open your air ways and get oxygen into your lungs ,if you don't want to go to rehab,,,,walk as much and often as you can ,,,use your blue inhaler before and if needed during exersise,,,,sit to stand using a dinning chair ,for 2 minutes ,get two bottles of water one in each hand and do arm raises 2 minutes,

    I'm not going to say it's asthma or copd ,it could be a bit if both ,but exersise is the key ,I go to the gym twice a week ,and do 3 Klm on the bile,2 Klm on the treadmill ,and 1000 meters on the rower each time ,,,,so if I can do this at 69 and used to smoke 20 a day for over 20 years ,,,,,well I hope it's eased your mind ,good luck ,

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  • Posted

    I don't know what your gp is on about because asthma, if chronic, comes under the umbrella of COPD.   I don't understand the last sentence of your first paragraph about the machine's "infallibility" in reference to yr lifestyle etc.

    Longterm asthma often becomes COPD, but I wouldn't be worried about it if I were you because it's manageable if not curable:  i'd be more concerned about being "incredibly unfit".    

    By all means get another opinion but getting fit would be even better and exercise is one of the best ways to slow COPD down:  my lung function level hasn't changed since my emphysema was diagnosed about 3 years ago.  If you can get to a rehab group they're invaluable:  I learned better ways of breathing to not get so tired and specific exercises.

    I'd stop worrying about the labels if I were you and concentrate on improving your fitness levels but slowly and preferably with direction from a rehab group or a physio specialising in pulmonary conditions.

    Good luck with all that.

    Oh, one more thing, stay away from pollutants like car exhaust and cigarette smoke as much as you can

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    • Posted

      Thank you.   I know I should definitely work on my fitness and reading everyone's comments, I realise that I must address this ( albeit slowly) immediately.  I hadn't heard of a  rehab group before now and I wasn't given any advice/info  from my GP surgery/ nurse.  It's definitely something I need to explore.  The nurse said that the machine was infallible. However, considering my age, smoking history -ie not a heavy long-term smoker, she said that I wasn't a 'typical' COPD candidate and so referred the results to my GP. 

      I realise how important exercise is now.. whereas before I was anxious because of my breathlessness.  Thank you again for the reply and helpful comments.

       

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the explanation.  It's interesting how quick most doctors are to hand out prescriptions compared to their lack of referrals to such things as rehab groups.

      I hadn't heard of them either until the pulmonary specialist made a throwaway comment when I was walking out the door.  I thought about it later and did a bit of research on the internet ... and ended up finding one very close to both the specialist's rooms and my home!   Fortunately they were happy with self-referrals and it was very low cost.

      I hope you find something as helpful for you as I found it for me.  One of the most important if not THE most important things I learned was that with COPD you can't "soldier on" because you'll just get more breathless and take longer to recover.   I was taught how to evaluate when to stop and rest and for how long and I don't get anywhere near as tired if I stick to that.

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  • Posted

    Hello Cathy. I think the advice for both asthma and COPD would be the same (no smoking and keep active, fit and nutritionally well), so I think it sounds as if you're doing the right thing with regards to smoking and perhaps, yes you could exercise more. Why not not start gently and build up to the brisk walk as and when you feel able. Sorry to ask, but are you overweight because that might worsen your breathlessness. I have a dog and now that I am over my last breathless episode, I really do push myself when I walk her, but I really don't think it would have been wise when I was extremely breathless (too much stress on the heart). I think michaelfhope provided excellent guidance regarding pulmonary rehab. It would both get you fit and give you support. I wish you well Cathy. I also agree with Sheila. You own your own body...please don't let the doctors play God. They are experts, but still just people. You know your own body, so it must be team work with mutual respect. Please push for answers. Nanny and Sheryl have also given you very good advice. You are young enough to make this good by doing the right things, but do get another opinion please so that you know where you stand. Good luck
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