Six weeks ago I went to the doctor because I was struggling to breathe and kept coughing, weeks after having a chesty cold and expected a cough medicine and lecture about smoking. Instead, I was sent for x-rays, ct scan and had a spirometry test. Today I got the diagnosis of COPD. To say I'm stunned is a bit of an understatement. I've led an active life and this news has floored me. I've came home with a pamphlet and 3 inhalers. Shaking with fear for my future, so any advice would be great. Thanks.

22 Replies

  • You have all my sympathy, as I, and others on this site have gone through what you are feeling now. It has been a terrible shock and you feel overwhelmed by it all. You are probably also imagining the worst. Right? I was only diagnosed a few months ago myself but have learned so much from this forum, and BFL, that has enabled me to help myself as much as I can. The single most important thing that you can do to help yourself is to give up smoking completely. No cutting down, but cutting out. There is ways available to help you do that, such as patches or finding out about no smoking classes. Contacting your health centre is a good starting point. You must also use all your inhalers as prescribed. You should have been advised or offered a Pulmonary Rehabilitation course. These are run by health professionals such as a physio and a respiratory nurse. You will be individually assessed in what you can do in exercise and a programme will be specifically to meet your needs. You will be closely monitored and given all sorts of advice. This will range from medication, seeing if you are entitled to any benefits and learning new breathing techniques. I have not been on one yet, as I have not been diagnosed for long, but others who have been on them are full of enthusiasm for them. You will not be pushed beyond what you can do, and can ask any questions you like. The way you are feeling now is perfectly normal and it will take some time to get your head around it all. There are loads of people on this site with copd who were diagnosed years ago. The trick is to remain as healthy as you can, eat a well balanced diet and stop smoking. Ask at the health centre or contact your physio department to ask about the PR courses. If you click on the red balloon and then scroll down the page slightly you will find a helpline number for The British Lung Foundation. They are fantastic, a mine of information and will answer your questions and give you advice. They are respiratory nurses so know what they are talking about. You have to look after your lungs and airways now so that the progression is slow. You say you have led an active life, so that sounds as if you are quite fit generally. If you look after yourself as advised by the medical people there is no reason why you should not live for years. Other people on here will say the same, and they know because its happening to them. I know this is an upsetting time, but once you have accepted the diagnosis, and realise how much can be done then you will feel a lot better. I send you warm best wishes and hugs xx

  • Huggs, you reflect exactly how we all feel when told of COPD and left to our own devices! I wish every doctor would talk like you huggs, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is a bit difficult breathing! I agree with all you said! Well done!

  • Hi Mike, Thank you so much for your kind words. Sometimes I wonder if I am saying the right thing or not. I can recall exactly how I felt when given the diagnosis, because it has been so recent. It is wrong to leave people to their own devices after hitting them with this diagnosis, because you automatically assume the worst. Its only when you are frantically searching for information and guidance that you come across such a good website as this. Then you realise it is not an automatic death sentence and you can do things to help yourself. We will have our flare ups or periods when we are unwell, but as you say there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a lot of help to get along the tunnel. Hope you are keeping not to badly Mike. Thanks again. hugs xxx

  • I concentrate on these Chinese exercises which seem to heat me up in the morning. ... get tired after breakfast!

  • Hi Mike, I must confess I haven't tried your Chinese exercises yet. They are on another post so will have to look for them. I promise to try them, and I'll let you know how I get on. Take care now. hugs xx

  • Huggs thank you so much for understanding. I'll try and follow through on your advice.

  • Hi again Pixie, I hope you are feeling a little bit better about things now. If you are not, then you will in a while. The only thing I will say now, ( and I really do not mean to be rude!), is do not try and follow my advice. DO IT! (sorry for shouting), because it is the only way forward. Take care, hugs xx

  • Hi pixiedixie. Please don't fret .

    I was diagnosed 3 years ago. I was told I had angina so I blamed the smoking and immediately gave up. I found my breathing a bit laboured and assumed it was my lungs clearing the gunk. Soon after I found it harder to breathe and was diagnosed with Stage 4 COPD. Stunned I was too !. Apart from a bad chest infection recently, I don't seem to have got any worse since I was diagnosed. I still do the same part-time job I did before being diagnosed. I go shopping, drive, in fact I do most things, just a bit slower. I have found the best thing is exercise. I'm sure some others will be along soon and offer you some advice.

  • Just saying hello and welcome. You've already been given great advice, only other thing is don't Google as Huggs said get your info from BLF.

    Kim xxx

  • Hello the diagnosis is such a shock! My husband was diagnosed about ten years ago probably had it about seven years before that! Don't panic!! You have had lots of good advise and you can continue to have a good quality of life. Take it slowly and the best advise I can give you is to be proactive - if you have questions ask the doctors until you get the answers. The blf helpline is very good. If you think you are starting with an infection don't hang around get treatment ASAP! Above all enjoy your life!! TAD xxx

  • Thank you puffthemagicdragon, kimmy59, tadaw for more good advice.

    To think I had thought my doctor was over-reacting and grumbled at having to take time off work to attend the hospital.

  • Hi and welcome to the site. I agree with the advice given. COPD isn't a death sentence though I understand your fears. It will take a while for you to adjust. It is always a shock to be diagnosed with a disease like this. You will learn to adapt and if you stop smoking, eat healthily, exercise and take your meds you can do a lot to hold it back. Only google sites like this one and other official sites like the nhs otherwise you could scare yourself silly. We are a very friendly and knowlegable bunch so any problems or questions feel free to ask. x

  • Hi & welcome to this site.You will always find someone to advise you.You have had a lot of input already,& good advice,so take it all in slowly,& try to remain positive!

    Good luck,love Wendells xx

  • Welcome to the community the best thing to do is quit smoking hard as if is to do that it will slow down the progression of the disease

  • I don't understand why any smoker should be surprised that they get one of the disease clearly advertised right on the box, especially after continued warnings by a medical professional and obvious symptoms. There is no safe level of smoking and a fifth of those with COPD have never smoked so why would a smoker presume it wouldn't happen to them?

    Is it cognitive dissonance? Denial? Ignorance? Addiction?

    I don't know but hearing the words "lung damage" after a decade or so of smoking definitely made me feel like a true idiot. It's a good thing we live in a free society where such a deadly product as tobacco is widely advertised and sold at every corner store directly up the block from secondary schools to supply all the naive teenagers and those otherwise incapable of accurately perceiving risks.

    My advice... learn to bee responsible for your actions and courageous in the face of calamity.

  • All of the above have said it all. Carry on as before except GIVE UP SMOKING!!!!!!!!

    I know it can be hard I was a 40 a day man gave up in 1992 and my GP has said he classes me as a non smoker now!

    Be Well

  • Hello Pixie,diagnoses Copd?Now the stop smoking lecture.Stop smoking!Lecture over.You will gradually understand how this disease will affect you,we are all different

    But good diet and as much exercise as you can manage seem to be the best prospects.Try not to worry and keep in touch,we won,t bite(much lol)and will help you through it all.Good luck.D.

  • I'm overwhelmed and humbled by your responses and advice. Thank you to everyone who's imparted great advice. I'm unsure if it's the shock or the condition, but I've managed not to light up today.

  • Well done for not lighting up today! If you feel the urge to light up, why don't you turn to this page. Read your question and then all the replies, and I think that will make you think twice. I forgot to tell you that I know a woman who smoked 40 a day for years and years. She got the diagnosis of copd and stopped smoking that very day. That was 5 years ago and she is still working full time. Good luck and throw your cigarettes out! Take care hugs xx

  • Welcome to the site there are lots of knowledgeable and helpful people here. I had COP D for years before I was diagnosed. The important thing is to keep active and don't panic. If you are concerned about your health contact the BLF helpline and try to avoid looking things up on the internet. There are lots of people on this site still leading active happy lives despite the illness.

    Kind regards


  • You will find your breathing improves by giving up smoking. It's the best gift you can give to yourself. I had to try repeatedly before I succeeded. I have never been diagnosed or tested for COPD, but after a virus infection, I was coughing almost non stop. I was on antibiotics every few weeks because of persistent coughing, chest infections and wheezing. I am currently only on inhalers and although I am still prone to chest infections, I don't wheeze as much. Giving up smoking was the best thing I did and the hardest and although I still have problems, the benefits of giving up improved things no end. My father died from an exacerbation of COPD and my maternal grandmother also had it. My mother probably has it, but has to have some tests. Giving up won't reverse your COPD, but it will improve your current health. All of us smoked.

  • Its really relevant, someone's comment above, that I & prob loads of people had copd for several years prior to diagnosis.

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