Asthma UK community forum

COPD or asthma?

Hello, I was diagnosed with asthma about 7 years ago after a severe bout of flu but just received a letter from the GP asking me to come in to have my COPD checked. I had some comprehensive hospital spiro tests when symptoms began and was assured it was asthma as the inhalers don't work on COPD. The main trigger for my breathlessness or attacks seems to be pollen and strong winds and the last test result for lung capacity was 300, a drop of 40 over 7 years. Is it anyone to worry about or has my GP got it all wrong? Haven't had a severe attack for about 3 years, touch wood,

Thanks

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COPD is a generic term for a range of lung conditions, so isn't a disease as such. As I understand it, there is a loose medical differentiation as you outline, that asthma is reversible (as in it responds to bronchodilator inhalers) whereas a COPD condition doesn't. I'll be honest, I don't know how set in stone that is, but it would count as 'conventional wisdom' if nothing else!

The AsthmaUK nurses will, I imagine, be able to answer that in far more detail if you give them a call.

I wouldn't necessarily worry about the GP letter; it might just be you've sat on their system for a while as a COPD case, but you can use the opportunity to discuss what it is & perhaps organise some further spirometry tests.

You'd need to check one of the online peak flow charts to see what the drop of 40 points means (it's related to age, gender & height). If you think it shouldn't have dropped that much, then there's also an opportunity just to have a look at your medication & see if they can tweak it for you.

Good luck!

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Couldn't have put it better myself Minushabens! Actually I couldn't have put it half as well :) x

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That's kind of you to say - thank you :-)

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Many thanks for your info and advice. There's a fine line between the conditions which can also overlap I suppose.

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If you have ever smoked, they might just assume you have COPD. I don’t think the diagnosis is as important as how you feel. Obviously you need to discuss it with your GP.

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I am an ex-smoker now on e-cigs. I was puffing away on them before my last assessment where it dropped 40 pts which could have contributed to the lower reading as they temporary restrict the airways. I'm afraid I disagree, I think the diagnosis of COPD would scare the pants off most people no matter how they're feeling at the time.

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I was told that there are some people who have both asthma and COPD. Especially if you haven’t smoked but aged 35 to 50 as we grew up in smokey atmospheres in pubs homes cars etc. As kids young adults

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Hi I would be really interested to hear what your GP says the answer is. I think Minushabens is right tho. I've been wondering about it too lately. Good Luck. Jo

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Yes it was a bit of a shock to be told my COPD needs assessing when I thought I had asthma tbh. I was told by a bloomin' ace GP once to have 2 yearly chest x-rays as I used to work with dust containing 4% white asbestos but the docs at this surgery are beyond inept.

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