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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Question:

The symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: anna, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: March 17

I was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) from CAT scan but am not out of breath. Heavy cough with wheezing for the last several months is the only symptom.

Comment from: imfromafrica, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: March 09

I think last year November I started coughing, and since then I've still been coughing; and I'm 20 years of age. I was told to do an x-ray which I did and the doctor said it was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I checked online and saw that it doesn't happen to young people, I'm really confused here. I was given some drugs by the doctor which did not seem to work and I've not gone back since then though. I know I've smoked before though I just do it for fun and I'm not an addict, and its once a while. I wonder if the doctor is right about it being COPD.

Comment from: Sandi, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

I was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in 2017. I had symptoms of wheezing, coughing up phlegm and difficulty to breathe with certain activities. I did stop smoking and vaping 4 years back but then my father passed away and I started smoking cigarettes again. I feel like my symptoms have gone away and I can breathe better. I'm not coughing up phlegm, and I feel like my old self again. I wonder if it is possible that COPD can actually go away, or if I was diagnosed wrong.

Comment from: Sheryl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 10

Well it was a bit of a shock for me even though I smoked, my symptoms weren't particularly severe and still aren't but I had been sick with bronchitis for three months, but it was the pain in my left side that made me ask to get a chest x ray, I was then told it was COPD, huh? I have nearly quit, only been 4 days and down from 20 a day to 4. I think it was caught early and I expect to feel better soon, it's just getting through this bronchitis stage that's hard and confusing and I will expect to get sick each year now. I did notice I was breathless on steep inclines, but then I was 16 years ago so smoking did that, but my only symptoms at the time of my diagnosis was that I couldn't bring up any mucus and I had a pain in my left side, that was all.

Comment from: Carol, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 10

I grew up with asthma; I suffered sinus and respiratory infections my entire life. I started smoking at 15. When I was in my early 40s, my asthma was becoming increasingly worse. I was diagnosed with COPD at age 47. I am now 55. I quit smoking four years ago. The disease does not improve. My "good days" are far and few these days. My dad and his dad died from this. My older sister was just diagnosed three years ago. My son was diagnosed with beginning stages at age 25. (He doesn't smoke.) My sister's daughter was just diagnosed at 33 (smoker). It's a hard disease that seems to start out like bad asthma and progresses into chronic lung infections.

Comment from: Nevada Nora, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 05

I have just found out during a wellness checkup that my doctor had written in my records two years ago that I had COPD. He has never mentioned this to me, I don’t know why! The wellness clinic doctor told me about it. He mentioned no treatment plan either. I am in shock. How could an ethical doctor not tell me!

Comment from: Texaslonewolf1956, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 20

Four years ago after two weeks in the hospital I was diagnosed with late stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sent home to on oxygen 24/7. Last week I was checked by a different pulmonologist and tested and he said I don't have COPD. What gives!

Comment from: jeanne, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 09

Four years ago I was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I have had asthma all my life. I have just been to the doctors and seen a senior nurse who has told me I no longer have this condition but asthma and she has change my medication. My breathing is great and I don’t feel I need the COPD inhaler anyway, but have managed with my Ventolin for years. The nurse won’t give it back to me. I was told by the doctor that once you have COPD you can’t not have. I am puzzled.

Comment from: Neville Mac, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: January 15

I was diagnosed with COPD in 1998. I am 78 now but sometimes wonder if the diagnosis is correct. The reasons are that during the day I have very little coughing of phlegm, never have shortness of breath and never really wheeze during the day. At night when I lay down I cough nearly 20 times a night bringing up phlegm but in the morning it is calm again with no coughing and no phlegm.

QUESTION

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. See Answer
Comment from: Miranda, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 10

I have been diagnosed with Mild COPD today. I have never smoked in my life! I am a 43yr old woman.

Comment from: Silverflower, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 13

Dyspnea is definitely my primary symptom which urged me to get help. I had always has a mild cough and was out of shape and a smoker so not being a marathon runner didn't bother me, because I was still able to hike and walk up stairs with minimal symptoms. I could still do the things that I loved and so I didn't care that sometimes I had to take more breaks than my peers on a hike as long as I could do it. Then I got the flu--horrible respiratory flu that had me in bed sleeping for 3 days straight and sick for 5 days after that. After that I began having increasing palpitations and shortness of breath that began interfering with my everyday life. I was only 30 and developing intense anxiety simultaneously because I was in an intense college program and now I was struggling to keep up with my program and every other aspect of my life. Finally my doctor discovered what it was and I found the less I smoked the more my symptoms improved. I still believe smoker or not I likely have the AAT deficiency gene, because I have been diagnosed so young--30 to me is just too young to be diagnosed COPD under normal circumstances, but that is something I still have to discuss with my doctor.

Comment from: madmax16, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: January 23

I am 60 years old and met my husband when I was 15. (In 1966) We were soul mates he was my whole life, tragically he died in January 2011 and attempting to carry on without him some days seems like an impossible task. He started getting chest infections which grew worse over the past few years - he then went onto home oxygen 6 months before he died. I had never heard of C.O.P.D. before his illness it is really heartbreaking to watch your loved one struggle to breathe - I would give anything to have him back. Smoking does what is says on the packet.

Comment from: DARLENE B, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 23

Hi everyone out there! I have COPD and I’m 57 years old. I had smoked since I was 15yrs old (taking cigs from mom’s pack without her knowing). I was a bartender for 16years. Breathing in all that smoke. I didn't smoke that much, maybe 1/2pk a day. After so many years, I started to breath heavy. About 2.5 years ago, I started having a hard time breathing just going back and forth from my bed room. So I went to the doctor’s office, asked for a wheel chair for them to take back to the room. They said I was about to crash. They got my oxygen level up so my bf could take me. The ambulance was on its way. Now, I’m on oxygen 24/7. I quit smoking about 2 weeks right as I was getting sick. I rather live little longer than smoke. Smoking is a crutch. Kick it out, and you will live longer and happier. Do breathing exercises. My COPD is on the border line of medium to serious.

Comment from: Chuckty, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 31

I was a heavy smoker for about 40 years (40 a day). I am now 61. I used to get cough but always thought it was due to smoking. Occasionally I consulted doctors, but my X-ray reports were always clear. About two months back I felt breathlessness while climbing stairs. Tests done on me confirmed COPD.I have quit smoking, take inhalers (three types) and somehow managing my work schedule.

Comment from: Creemetis, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I am a 42yr old female and I was just diagnosed with COPD today. My symptoms were that I kept getting really bad sinus infections, the last 2 sinus infections I had trouble coughing up anything and when I did cough something up it was disgusting. The sinus infection went away but the cough never did, so I went back to the clinic and the doctor said I was in rough shape. He gave me 2 inhalers and told me I needed to stop smoking (I have smoked for 30 years.) I am really afraid.

Comment from: chastjenn, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: July 06

My wheezing was detected by physician during initial exam. The physician gave me a breathing treatment then he listened again for wheezing. At the end of the exam he referred me for pulmonary tests. After getting the results he told me that I had moderate COPD, and prescribed Albuterol inhaler for use when needed. I knew I had wheezing at times, off and on, usually not noticeable, but the diagnosis of COPD really surprised me.

Comment from: Scared in Ohio, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

I was just told the other day that I have COPD. I’m 42 and I have smoked on and off for years. I have an appointment with my regular doctor on Monday and I hope that the original diagnosis was false. I found out because I thought I had a bad sore throat. I work out five days a week and now I feel like I’m knocking on death’s door. I don’t know what to do from here. I keep holding out the hope that I don’t have to deal with this horrible situation for the rest of my life. I hope this is not the end for me. I’m only 42.

SLIDESHOW

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Comment from: 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 26

At the onset of my COPD, it became hard to breathe.

Comment from: Sweetmamadot777, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 07

I am a 58yr old woman, and I've smoked 20 a day for 40yrs. I was diagnosed with COPD last year, I already had asthma, and at first put my breathlessness down to that, then I started getting dizzy when getting up too fast, or when I took a coughing fit. I went to my doctor, who referred me to the asthma clinic, and after tests was diagnosed with COPD...I am down to 5 smokes per day, I am finding it terribly difficult to quit entirely, although I know what its doing to my lungs. I take 4 different inhalers a day, had to give up working and can hardly manage to do normal housework, everything seems such an effort and I tire so easily. if only I'd known the dangers of smoking when I was younger, I would never have started smoking and I wouldn't be so ill now. It depresses me that I've done this to myself and that the smokes still have such a hold on me. I only hope that the younger generation is made more aware of the dangers of smoking and the ultimate price to pay in later years.

Comment from: birdlady01, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I have recently been diagnosed with COPD. I have oxygen machines, and of course the coughing. I also have sputum that I cough out excessively. I am so depressed and frustrated, that I don't know what to do. Sometimes I can't sleep, in bed, so I sleep in my recliner. I'm very lucky in the way that I have a daughter that lives two doors down and comes and checks on me every day. The only thing that helps me feel a little better is my faith in God.

Comment from: bev61, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 14

I have had chronic bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis for years. I usually get sick twice a year, spring and winter when the weather changes. I had what I thought was a smokers cough, cold, etc. When my inability to breath normally caused me to go into A PANIC attack, I drove myself to the hospital. I was given oxygen, sedatives, and was told it was COPD. I am 47 and have smoked for 32 years.

Comment from: ladybird1, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 09

I have asbestos damage to my lungs (pleural plaques) from working to with it. My husband of 25 years was an asbestos worker. I wonder if asbestos causes COPD or makes it worse. Thank you!

Comment from: g.s., 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 02

I felt a shortness of breath for approximately 5 years. It became progressively worse. I had trouble walking any distance, like 100ft. I thought it was my heart or circulation, which may have been better. This is very debilitating and uncomfortable. To walk in a store I use a shopping cart. After two days in the hospital I was diagnosed with bronchitis. At home, I couldn't stand all the breathing medications, so I quit. No phlegm or coughing or wheezing. I just have severe shortness of breath when moving.

Comment from: timothius, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 18

Coughing every morning until I went for a walk with my dog. It has been over 2 years now and the coughing and gagging are there every morning. Only getting into the fresh air helps. I am 63 and quit smoking in 1995. I am also a career military and have been exposed to many terrible chemical solvents.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 23

I am a 50 year old female that was diagnosed with COPD last year. I smoked for 30 years. I thought I was having a heart attack and my primary physician sent me to have a stress test. I have a perfectly normal heart. It feels like I have a weight on my chest that is hard to lift when I try to breathe in and out. I use inhalers and multiple sinus medications. I quit smoking! It scares me to think that my life will be shortened because of smoking and I work in a hospital and know what it is like when someone cannot breathe. Please quit now if you still smoke as this will help your COPD the most.

Comment from: Slim, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 15

I am a 55-year-young female. About two years ago I was diagnosed with having the beginning signs of COPD. I was frequently short of breath, couldn't walk long distances, used a shopping cart to move through stores, and any sudden movement would cause me to panic and wet my pants. I am very susceptible to smells; things like gasoline, engine fumes, paint, bleach, and other air pollutants cut my breath short causing me to gasp for air and wet my pants. It's happening more frequently now. The change of weather also affects my breathing. Hot days the air is too thin and I struggle to breathe. Cold days are good but uncomfortable to linger in for fear of catching a cold or a virus. First rains are bad. Second and third rains are better. I'm learning to cope with this disability. I regret ever smoking.

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