non smoker with copd

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just found out had i have lung disease probably due to pasive smoking iam 54 my only symtoms are when walking fast or climbing hills i seem to get out of breath my doctor said my exray showed mild copd she told me i would be surprized the amount of people out there not knowing they have copd and never smoked. i would just like to hear from anyone else in the same situation.

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  • Posted

    Hi maymac. I am so sorry you have this diagnosis and I always think it is even more unfair on non-smokers. Your doctor is right, many people have it for years without a diagnosis, as I did. You are, in a way, very fortunate to have been diagnosed whilst still in the \"mild\" stage as many don't know until it is already severe. When it is mild, and you are a non-smoker, your outlook is very positive - stay away from cigarette smoke, I won't allow it in my house, my car, and won't visit people who smoke in their house (we meet elsewhere or they come to see me). Get a reasonable amount of exercise and eat healthily and you should be fine. There are users of this site who may have similar experiences and many who will offer support. Good luck. :-)


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  • Posted

    Hi maymac. As you are a non smoker, can I ask if this was a definite diagnosis -ie. did you have a spirometry test (breathing hard into a tube) as this is the only way you can be sure it is copd. Also, if you did have spirometry you need to know your FEV1 score as that will determine the severity of your condition. I ask this because if you only had an x-ray then it is very difficult to detect copd that way. Normally you have spirometry, and then an x ray if it is pretty severe in order to discount any other cause of illness.

    If it is certain that it is copd you should be given various inhalers, the exact type varying depending on the severity and on what best suits you.

    Non smokers can and do get copd though it is quite rare. Usually it has been caused by other irritants, so for example painters or people working with anything producing fumes can get it, as can woodworkers and miners.

    One lady who had never smoked developed it in minutes when she inhaled the toxic fumes from a burning plastic tablecloth of all things! She had to go straight onto oxygen.

    If non of the above apply to you and the diagnosis is certain, then you may need to ask your GP about being tested for Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which is a rare genetic condition that causes copd in non smokers ( basically it is an emzyme deficiency).

    Do let us all know how you are and keep in touch. Don't worry too much (easier said than done, I know!) after the initial shock things aren't so bad, and as Jacee said, if it's mild then you have little to worry about. You may even end up healthier than ever as this will no doubt result in you taking greater care of yourself.

    All the best to you, Vanessa.

    PS. I am sure you will find plenty of info on copd on the numerous health web sites.

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  • Posted

    I had an incidental finding of copd on a chest xray. I went to an immediate care clinic because of an acute cough that started 10 days earlier. I am being treated for bronchitis and was told to followup with my primary care doctor. I am a non-smoker and I am not exposed to second hand smoke. I do not work in a polluted work environment. Is it possible that I have copd?
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  • Posted

    Hi Carole this is an old thread 2010, but I just wanted to say you do need to check in with your doctor and ask about a spirometry test which will test your expiration flow, this may indicate COPD or another lung problem (chronic bronchitis comes under the banner of COPD). If you are having difficult breathing generally and or with repeated lung infections, you may want to ask your GP for a referral to a respiratory consulting specialist.

    Hope all goes well for you. Keep in touch.


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  • Posted

    Hi, glad to know i'm not the only one. I'm 62 play a lot of tennis and it suddenly got difficult. I've got a feeling it's due to air pollution. I have done a lot of intensive activities outdoors over the past 30 years: sailing, cycling, half-marathons. Always did my best to stay fitter than everyone else, and now this! I was put on symbicort, but felt it made me really tired so i stopped using it. Do you use meds? do you live in a place where the air is badly polluted? I do, next to a motorway. Am looking for somewhere else to live. All the best, 
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