I Have Been Told I Have Copd

I use to smoke for round 20 years,i gave up 15 years ago,i noticed a couple of years ago i started to get breathless when i would do house work and talking at the same time etc vaccuming and cleaning.I just thought i was unfit.Went to the doctor he said i have asthma,i thought what ever.I knew it would'nt be asthma as im over 40 years old had to be something else.He sent me for a spirometry test about a year later as i was still concerned..It came back i had copd early to mod stage,the lungs of a 75 year old.I thought what!! I have never been one to exercise but im a healthy weight for my height blood pressure etc all good.etc. I was shocked i didn't really know what this copd was until he explained it to me.Since then ive look on the internet to see how people cope with it,will it get worse quickly,slowly,how long do i have?,will i survive more then 5 years,im only in my late 40s. I have questions but cannot find the answer im looking for,my life expectancy what will it be.I have two young adult boys and have not told them.I try not to feel sad about this condition i have.I know they say exercise helps,but i still don't see people living a long healthy life style,they all seem to end up relying on oxygen and saying how awful it is.Doctor has given me inhalers,but sometimes i dont feel they work,i dont use them as i feel they just irate my throat.I can still walk for ages,i feel healthy,i only get out of breath when im talking really that's it while doing house work at same time.Doctor has booked me in to the hospital for some other tests,but that was months ago,i still have not been sent an appointment....waiting is not helping.I want answers.Can anyone help me find some answers,how long ago since you were diagnosed with copd early stage to mod? has your breathing stayed the same?if so how long has it been?,do you find exercise eg walking has improved it . Doesn't seem to be getting any worse?I just need someone to
talk to.I know i have typed alot,i guess because i have a lot on my mind about this.I guess i want to find someone who has beaten well not beaten but still has an active life.Can anyone help me please.
joy004 joy004
46-50, F
3 Responses Jan 17, 2013

I fully understand how you feel. It takes some time before they start to answer the million questions.

I'll try to answer some BUT, sorry in advance - I have to be brutally honest.
1. COPD - there is no cure, it's a disease that won't get better; all you can hope to do is to slow the rate at which it gets worse.

2. Life expectancy - as an ex-smoker you've already made the most significant change. There is no reason why you shouldn't life well into old age ... even with COPD but the quality of life will continue to deteriorate, shortness of breath will, over the years, get worse, activities (walking, exercise, housework etc) get harder to do because of breathlessness.

3. Inhalers have no effect. WRONG! Inhalers do NOT have an instant effect but if you do not use them YOU WILL SPEED UP THE EFFECTS OF THE DISEASE. Yes, they do hit the back of the throat because they are (most of them) a dust that is absorbed into the lungs. Tiotropium, Symbicort and various others are long term benefits. The spirometry tests which will happen over the years will show the benefits of these.

4. COPD is measured in stages based on your lung function; sounds like you are at stage 2 which is 80% - 50% of a "normal" persons function (Stage one is rarely diagnosed because people just think they are a bit breathless and don't seek medical attention). On this basis you are a long way (and many years) from any sort or problem provided that you take care of yourself.

5. Exercise - your lungs will not get better BUT by training them you can get the best out of them. People with COPD get breathless and therefore stop what they are doing. You NEED to get breathless on a daily basis as this will keep your lungs in the best condition possible.

6. Hospital appointment; they do not rush because there is not a need to rush! You are not about to drop down dead any time soon! They will do some tests possibly echocardiogram, x-rays, spirometry, ECG (maybe all and maybe none of the above), often tests are to rule out for certain outside possibilities of other issues.
After that, maybe a few months later, they will invite you to attend Pulmonary Rehab where they will teach you breathing exercises. Then every now and then they will carry out further spirometry tests to keep a measure of the rate of decline.

Meantime, YOU need to take care of yourself. Take the meds provided! Keep away from people with coughs, colds and chest infections. Have an annual flu jab. Wrap up warm in winter. Avoid smoky and dusty atmospheres. If you have a cold be careful ... COPD sufferers quickly develop chest infections. Many doctors prescribe "emergency medications" of antibiotics and steroids which should be taken (complete course not just a day or two) whenever there is a "flare-up" (exacerbation) this is because exacerbations do damage the lungs and reduce the long-term efficiency of the lungs. Talk to your doctor about this - it is important!

I have COPD (spirometry @ 54% - not too bad), been through the hospital appointment thing, the "how long will I live" issue, last exacerbation was three weeks ago and I was told that, unlike most people with a cold, because of COPD I MUST go to the doctors immediately! The hospital said " when people come to us in your state we can't always get them back!". I admit that I wasn't in very good condition when I went and I now understand what they were saying. Let it be a lesson to you!

Hope it answers some of your questions. Take the medicine and breathe easy!

My experience is similar to yours. I was diagnosed with it when I was in my early thirties and continued smoking until I was in my forties. Perversely, it was only after five years of not smoking that things started to deteriorate. Nevertheless, I'll be 68 this year and, while I can't do a lot of the things I once could do, I still plod along quite happily.

You can continue to live a long and rewarding life but regular exercise is critical to that. Not only will it keep your lung function at its maximum, but it will help stave off infection which is the real bane of us COPD sufferers. At least 20 minute walks every day at normal walking pace is all you need.

It wont be easy but you can live relatively normally into a good old age if you are willing to put a bit of effort into it.

I wish you all the best xxx

Hi Longerlust thank you for your comment,i have brought myself a treadmill,as when winter comes this will help i feel.While the weather is nice i have been walking,sometimes an hour some evenings.I blew on my peak flow meter usually its around 400 but over the last few days it is 420-430 so has gone up a bit since i have started walking,and i dont feel so breathless for now.

Yo have a good attitude. The treadmill's a great idea. I have no doubt you'll have a long and enjoyable life if you keep up with regular, moderate exercise.

At the first hint of an infection, stomp on it with antibiotics to minimise scarring of lung tissue. The last thing you need is damage to healthy tissue if you can prevent it.

Best wishes xxx

It sounds like you've still got a long life ahead. You just have to take very good care of yourself for the boys. Wikipedia has a good article on it.

Hi lyinbich thank you for your comment,i hope i do have a long life,i will look at the wikipedia .Thank you.