COPD: Hi, I went to my hospital... - Asthma UK communi...

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Hi, I went to my hospital consultant on monday and after doing a detailed spirometry test, he was saying about looking at chronic airway obstruction. Is this the same as COPD?

I've also been doing some research into COPD and it says its a progressive disease which I take as meaning I'll die from it?

Does anyone have any idea about this as I'm only 16 and it's a bit of a scary thought!

Thanks! xxx

10 Replies

I am afraid I don't know but this has been mentioned at my hospital and GPs too. The bit I thought I actually understood was that the longer you struggle and put up with symptoms the less function you get back that you used to have and so I think they were saying that asthma can cause COPD but that didn't make sense to me either.

I am glad you have asked, think I kind of put it to the back of my mind because it was mentioned for a few months and then they stopped talking about it.

Hope you find a real answer.

Nicola x

COPD means chronic bronchitis and emphysema usually so where airflow is limted and isn't reversable. Looking at your age I doubt it as it is a older person's disease as it is down to damge mainly from smoking. However yes copd is a chronic airway obstruction but it might not be this there are others.

In bronchial asthma the partial obstruction of the airways measurably changes over a relatively short space of time.

In fact, the diagnosis depends on being able to produce this change with medication and measuring it.

Chronic airway obstruction does not show this variation. The measurement of lung function is more fixed and shows that the reduction in airflow is due to airway narrowing and loss of elasticity.

COPD is a condition that like asthma cannot be cured but can be well managed for many years, yes there could be flare ups, and ovver time the lungs will get worse if it is this.

It could just be a thicking on the walls.

Due to research all I have found is that it is a disease mostly due to smoking and mainly affects peope over 40 - which I am not a smoker and nowhere near the age of 40 so I was thinking it was quite unlikely!

My doctor said he's going to look into it because my lung function is weak although capacity of my lungs is very good. It's kind of confusing atm!

Thanks for your help, I hope he's just going to look into it then definatly rule it out as it and investigate something else as he doesn't believe i have asthma but something similar although again he is unsure!


i confuse doctors to, keeps them on there toes. Poor lung function could just be poor asthma control its the reverseability they are lookign at for asthma. If clever can see where the tightness is, say if its a the begining of the curve might be more throat/upper airway such as vocal cord dysfunction where as the end like mine is smaller airways where meds arent reaching!

There are weird and wonderful disease could have ontop of asthma making it worse or the asthma caused the damage but thing best option is just carrying on as you are until you get that word.

COPD is usually caused by smoking but it can very very rarely be genetic (alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency). From my quick look on wikipedia (what would we do without it) you seem a bit young even for that. If you are worried about what the consultant said, you could ask your GP to see a copy of your consultant's letter (they sometimes take a few weeks to reach the GP). It sounds like your consultant is being thorough and investigating all the possibilities which is good!

Nicola- I think I remember reading somewhere that approx 10% of people with severe persistent asthma go on to develop COPD. On a good note though as treatments improve hopefully this will happen to fewer people.


Bryony and Bizkid thanks for that, as I said it was something that was mentioned for a couple of months ages ago and recently not again so thought nothing of it really. What you have both said makes it make more sense though. My reversibility has always been and still is very good so I guess that is why the new hospital I moved to dropped that line of thought as soon as they carried out the same old tests and saw for themselves. Thanks for making it clearer, you only think of it as a disease for people who smoke loads and are in wheelchairs on oxygen! Mind you, lots of people think of asthma as the odd squirt of a blue puffer.

Nicola I can see why you think of COPD like that! The only people I have met with COPD have been on the chest ward so not really representative of all people with COPD! I guess it is similar to most people only coming into contact with people with mild asthma.

Exactly! I actually have a science degree (predominently biology) but of course it isn't medical and so you only really learn about these illnesses in terms of drugs and substance abuse. I think they were either set against this once they had my reversability results or they were just trying to scare me into using my ventolin and nebs more rather than growing used to struggling.

I have worked in the nhs for many years, from Care homes to ambulance service to ward work and spent allot of my time at uni looking into asthma/copd.

COPD will lead to O2 and wheelchairs in time, but many suffers suffer similar things to use asthmatics ie can be well controlled with blips. I find CPOD suffers tend to have chronic low SATS more, retain C02 and productive cough big style! When acutly unwell rather whan the wheezing tend to hear crackles more

alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency before you ask is chronic degentrive condition speeded up by smoking but can live many years without being detetected.

I will try to remember that one rather than ask again Bizkid, when they discover at the same time that I sleep walk at night and am smoking myself to death that is!!

I am more and more encouraged that it was just a fleeting thought that would have been best kept to themselves as I rarely have crackles, I wheeze and when bed have 'quiet chest sounds'! Also my SATS don't go below 86% even when at worst and do come up with treatment and I only have a prooductive cough when I have an infection.

I think the fact that they often gve you ideas for treatments and tell you to go away and look at them yourself is quite worrying really as you can get all sorts of misinformation and misunderstandings

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