I'm terrified I have COPD

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I recently stopped smoking after a year of stopping and starting again. During this time I noticed a wheeze and the cigarettes seemed to set it off along with a cough. I went to doctors yesterday and she gave me ventolin and has booked an appointment for a spirometer test. Needless to say I've been on the Internet and frightened myself beyond belief. My daughter is 8 and I keep thinking I'm going to die before she's old enough to take care of herself. I feel guilty for smoking all these years (from 14 but stopped through 3 pregnancies and after) and selfish but all I can see is death and an oxygen tank. I don't cough all the time and cycle a 30 minute journey both ways so an hour in total twice a week and do vigorous horse riding ie trotting cantering and jumping twice a week. I've resigned myself to the fact it's COPD because I do t know what else it could be after smoking for so long. I'm so anxious I can't eat and keep crying thinking about my daughter. I'm 43. Please help. Will I die young?

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  • Posted

    From your description of symptoms, you are more likely to be run over by a bus than die young of copd, unless you live in a rural area where all the buses have been withdrawn. Doc put me on Ventolin almost 20 years ago but stupidly, despite having been confirmed with copd in 2007, I kept on smoking until I ended up in hospital in 2008. If I'm still here after all that time and you stay off the ciggies, you'll see your grandchildren growing up & going to school so stay off medical sites on the internet and save the tears for your daughter's wedding !
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reassuring words. How old are you if you don't mind me asking. The thought of not seeing my 60's scares me a great deal. I do t even know what symptoms I've got beyond the wheeze as I'm so worked up its making me cough and feel like my chest is clogged up.
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  • Posted

    Catarratto

    Please stop be so depressed over this. I have been diagnosed with COPD for just over a year and along with all the other things wrong with me, I am still alive and kicking. You will not die of COPD but from an associated illness. Go for the spirometer test, keep taking the inhaler as prescribed. If you can stay off cigarettes it will help you, take plenty of exercise as you have been doing. I hope you are now feeling a little better, others will give you more information as I am still learning about, what I call "A little problem".

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  • Posted

    I don't know anyone who hasn't panicked when initially diagnosed with COPD, but you haven't even been diagnosed yet!   If you can do such vigorous exercise without it getting breathless, it's less likely you have COPD.   

    Even if you do, it's a very slowly progressing disease for most people:  when I went into a panic after I was diagnosed my gp told me she'd been to a patient's funeral not long before who'd had COPD for more than 20 years into her 90's.

    There's also a lot you can do to slow it down:  rehab, exercise, diet, medication.  I was diagosed about 3 years ago with only 70% lung function (i'd smoked for years but had given it up by then) and it hasn't deteriorated since then.

    The guilt is pointless, but it does seem to be a stage we all have to go through - just don't get stuck in it, no point in wasting energy on what you can't change, you'll need it to focus on what you CAN do if you do have COPD.

    If the ventolin helped you may have asthma, which of course can lead to COPD.  Ventolin makes no difference in my case because I have emphysema related COPD.   

    I hope your spirometry test is soon [- you don't say when - at least then you'll have some clarity and the uncertainty you're now going through will be over.

    Please don't despair if you do have COPD:  depending on your lung function levels you could be in the early stages and have a long life ahead of you. I''ve learned from this forum that it's a very variable disease but it is possible to live with it and manage it.   Rehab is the key, I can't recommend it too strongly.   I'm 68 and was already having to adjust to being less physically strong than I had been and I learned in rehab how to make small changes in how I do things which conserve energy and keep me active.

    Take care, and please, let us know how you get on with the spirometry test.  Stay on this forum, there's heaps of support and information here.   Check out the Related Information column on the right hand side of the page rather than spending hours on the inernet.

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    • Posted

      Thing is I keep hearing about people living 20 years with it and that takes me upto 63. I want to live till I'm at least in my 70's and I keep thinking if the % is about 70 with the spirometer now then it's a grim outlook. I really appreciate your comments but I just can't help panicking. I think the ventolin is helping a bit but The wheeze is still there. I'll never smoke again that's for sure. Shame it's taken this for me stop. My test is in 3 weeks btw.
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    • Posted

      How much of your panic reaction is because you're not smoking?  If you're in withdrawal from nicotine tha wouldn't be helping, but if so this will pass, as will your panic about your possible diagnosis.

      As someone who used to worry myself sick about all sorts of things that never happened, can I suggest that whether or not you do have COPD, this is no way to live your life!   If you do have COPD the progression of the condition will depend pretty much on you, which includes acccepting things you can't change and focusing on what you can do.   For example, the most important thing I learned at rehab was that you can't "soldier on" with COPD because it makes your breathing worse and then it takes longer to recover and get on with whatever you were doing before you got breathless.   Can I suggest Mindfulness Meditation?

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    • Posted

      I am very highly strung Jude and always think the worst but feel it is a valid worry. I've had a dryish cough today which has become a tickly one tonight and my wheezing seemed more obvious although It may be how I'm seeing it. Do you think stopping smoking makes things no better at first? It feels like it did when the smoking started irritating my chest every time I lit up. I have tried mindfulness btw smile I hope I'm not annoying you sad
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    • Posted

      You're not annoying me at all, I'm just concerned you're in such a frightened state that you're not thinking clearly.   You can change that "highly strung and always think the worst" you know - neuro plasticity is a wonderful thing!

      I think I"ve answered your question about smoking below:  nicotine is in fact a cough suppressant and doctors even used to recommend it to TB patients to stop their coughing!   One theory is that the prevention of coughing is what causes the damage because bacteria etc which shouldn't stay in the lungs doesn't get coughed up, except first thing in the mornng before that firs fag - remember?

      So you've "tried" mindfulness - try again and you will amost certainly find yourself calmer and better able to cope with whatever your diagnosis is.

      Take care hey?

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    • Posted

      PS:  My spirometry reading was 70% 3 years ago and it's still the same because I went to rehab, I use the medication I've been prescribed, I exercise and best of all, I don't waste energy on things I can't change. I'd already stopped smoking a couple of years earlier.

      I'm not having a go at you, but you CAN help panicking!  If you can think of one good thing it achieves then keep doing it, otherwise ..... It's like worrying, has it ever changed anything for the better in the entire history of humankind?

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  • Posted

    Its unlikely you have anything if all you have is a wheeze. Dont smoke and keep excercising. Most of all forget about this episode and live your life.
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    • Posted

      Ummm ... I have to disagree with you there, a wheeze can indicate all sorts of things from flu to bronchitis to pneumonia.  Of course not smoking and continuing with exercise is good advice for anyone, but not to forget all about it:  if she's been referred for a spirometry test it's important she attend and find out what's going on.

      I've read far too many posts on this forum and heard the same from people I've met, of putting of having symptoms not checked out for years or decades and then being diagnosed with COPD in the later stages when it's too far advanced to benefit from rehab.

      Stopping gong into a panic until she's had the test is one thing, forgetting all about it is another

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply smile I have a cough that flares up sometimes but isn't always there. Today it has been like a dry cough now and again and tonight has become tickly . It feels like one side of my throat is always irritated. I wish I'd never started bloody smoking. Thing is this all started as I remember when I changed to rolling tobacco about 3 years ago. I'm wondering if doing that has triggered this permanent wheeze and intermittent cough. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks for being patient with me smile
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    • Posted

      There's no point in dwelling on the fact that you smoked or what you smoked!  The damage is done & can't be changed:  what you can change is never smoking again or being exposed to other people's smoke and managing whatever you're diagnosed with as best you can.

      Giving up smoking in itself can trigger a lot of coughing, because your lungs start to function again, even if there is some permanent damage.  Unproductive coughing is a real pain, esp at night:  before i was prescribed Symbicort (a cortisone inhaler) I sometimes got relief from an Anticol lozenge followed by very cold water, but I hardly ever cough at night now.

      Keep holding on until you get your diagnosis and the appropriate medication

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  • Posted

    Hi catarratto

    so sorry you are feeling the way you are I was exactly the same as you I was a nervous wreck waiting for my test I had had a bad chest infection that didn't want to clear had chest xray then 6 weeks later had spirometrey test was told I had mild background copd I haven't smoked for 10 weeks but have to say I feel a whole lot better

    Please try to relax but maybe go and talk to your doctor see if they can help, with your symptoms I would not sit and worry ( I know easier said than done ) but whatever the outcome please leave to cigs alone

    take care xx

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  • Posted

    Hi cataratto!

    No doubt about it, you will improve some if you quit smoking. COPD does not usually improve but we can stall it.....however to quit smoking does improve it just a little in numbers, but alot in how you will feel. No matter how high strung you are, it's useless to freak out until you have been told you have COPD. However, I do understand freaking out...you just need to wait and see tho bc like jude said, you might just have asthma irritated by your smoking of course. Pray sweetheart...turn your nerves to God and talk to him. He may heal you totally! Keep us posted...we want to hear from you! Ladyjack51

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