Is it true that COPD gets worse.. If so how bad can it be?

I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 8, since then I've been fighting with the nhs (I'm now 26) because I didn't believe it was a correct diagnosis. My only symptoms is a really bad and persistent chesty cough. I've now been diagnosed with COPD and my cough has been getting worse every year. I dont and never have smoked which is apparently why it was so hard to diagnose me. I'm scared about the future of this condition. Please can any one tell me what to expect?

20 Replies

  • Hi

    Call the BLF number and have a chat with one of their great nurses. Best and only way to be diagnosed is sprimority test-chest xray and ct scan.


  • As 1968 says. Get the full test and find out how and what you've got. The proper medicines can make a lot of difference to your well being.

  • Hi I understand how you feel. Being diagnosed with copd is very scary especially at such a young age. It is a progressive disease but it can progress very slowly if you look after yourself and get on the right meds. It is not a death sentence, with the right care and a bit of luck you will still be able to have a reasonably healthy and long life. I agree your best bet is to speak to BLF. We all understand about lung disease here so come in anytime and we will do our best to help and advise you. Take care. xx

  • Hi , I am asthmatic and so are my adult children....but it's me that has the persistent has been suggested that I have COPD as well caused by my smoking 40 years ago. But I have noticed that some medications can make my cough worse......what suits one person may not suit another.Try the BLF helpline and Asthma UK for advice. Have you had allergy tests at all?. My daughters are allergic to cats, dogs, dust, pollen....among other things! One takes Montelukast, which can help some people, and antihistamines. Best of luck.

  • Try not to breath any Fumes of any sort.....I know it's a hard call We can only hope that one day they will stop bloody fighting Wars and search for cures for COPD

  • I was a Bronchitis sufferer for many years when I was at school I was off pretty much every term with chest infections and had bouts of shortness of breath. Later in my 20's I was diagnosed with Asthma and the inhalers helped me cope with the problems I was having.

    Agreeing with what has been said on here it is important that you now have the correct tests to confirm your condition and the best way forward. I have seen many people on here do this and have seen improvements in their health. A Spiro at your doctors is the start then a proper full tests at Hospital in a Plastic Box and it goes on from there. Be firm with your GP.

    Be Well

  • Have you been tested for Alpha-1 deficiency? It was the first thing my consultant mentioned to me. I'm 35 and never smoked also. He said if it was that it's likely I had it for years and my asthma diagnosis had actually been that.

    It was not that for me in the end their still testing me to find the cause of my lung disease.

  • Yes, agree you must insist on the test for Alpha-1 deficiency. It's very often this deficiency which allows chest/lung problems set in - especially those who've never smoked.

    Wishing you all the very best in getting a definitive diagnosis. Remember, we're all here for you, ask as many questions as you need to.

    Please ring the BLF helpline, they're great and can guide you on what to get out of your gps & medics. 03000 030 555, office hours. P

  • Im same no history smoking (parents smoked ) i was diagnosed asthma twenty yrs ago controlled inhalers odd antibiotics steroids for infections. Until five yrs ago when each winter lung infections been longer and worse. This ones been worst ever dec to now im still not well not helped by consultants disagreeing with oneanothers diagnosis and treatment!! Meanwhile im in middle with low quality of life. Please take care xxx

  • Can I ask who diagnosed you and did you have the correct tests? A persistent cough and a non smoker at such a young age with chest problems since childhood - it could be bronchiectasis. A CT scan and lung function tests would rule it in or out.

    If you were diagnosed by a respiritory consultant - perhaps you could ask him/her if you might have bronch. Just say you have been reading about it and it sounds like what you are suffering. S/he will either explain in detail why this is definitely not your problem or s/he will send you for tests.

    Doctors are getting used to the idea that people look things up on the internet. Some embrace it - and some do not!

    I was diagnosed with bronch in early childnood, luckily. I was given good advice and shown how to keep my lungs healthy. I am 63 now and have led a perfectly normal life - work, family, sport, holidays. If you have bronc it is uber-important that you get the correct diagnosis and treatment. And you MUST learn to take care of your lungs.

  • I wonder how many of us have been given 2 or 3 different diagnoses before it is confirmed one way or the other by a Consultant following all the tests. My Consultant said that my 'minimal' smoking history (between 17 and 35 and gave up 30 years ago) made him suspicious of a COPD diagnosis. A CT scan proved him right. I have bronchiectasis and the resulting drugs and physio advice have been very valuable. Good luck.

  • Yes COPD does get worse I smoked for 55 of my 70 years I quit smoking 7 years ago ! Now I have COPD amongst other things I recently had an exberlaten [not sure how to spell it But it was pretty bad I truly thought I was going to die !!! But if you take the right medication and your nebulizer you should do ok I truly need some one to talk to No my family eather doesnt belive how bad I am or they don't understand COPD Please send me email

  • that howci feel my hubvy won't speak about it am eaiting for tbw sipro thing at tbe hospital.had an xray and it showed mild changes in copd.and when tbe doctor's listened to my lung they aren't clear. on antibiotics again for an infection again.some wonderful people on here


  • hello !

    i think everyone here has gave you the best information there is and that is to phone the blf and the doctor and see the nurse also and see wot they can do to speed things up.

    and although its scary its not as bad when the emphysema/copd is under control with the proper inhalers and tablets but you must bear in mind it is a progressive illness with no cure and that you will not be as fast at doing things as say someone more the same age.

    but here in this forum there is a great bunch of people like myself who all know the ups and down and we are all here to share not only the experiences we all have both good and bad but we alos can share a big warm smile with each other !

  • kluvtigger,

    Welcome to the site where the first thing people say, I feel anxious about my illness. We all do and there's no shame to this.

    Don't panic. You can take charge of your illness, especially by doing exercise - of any sort, walking, fishing, gym, martial art (or the Chinese medical equivalent like Qi Gong which is very good for breathing because it couples the movement with breathing). Exercise is vital to slow the illness down. Have confidence in yourself. and ask your GP to be referred to a lung consultant and a pulmonary nurse. The nurse is really good; she can put you on pulmonary rehabilitation.

    I never smoked, but my father did. So I caught bronchiectasis due to passive smoking for 19 years.

    I was diagnosed in 1994. I have been very ill sometime, but this does not deter me to pick up after my spell in hospital! Don't hesitate to ask questions to us, AND to your doctor; that' s why he/she is there for.

  • Hi there, have only just seen your post as I had a few busy days. You are young to have a COPD diagnosis especially as you have never smoked, But your symptoms do sound like Bronchitis which is part of COPD. If you take good care of yourself it can be a slow progressive illness, it is very unpredictable illness, but I am sure you will have a good life with care. Always remain positive even against all odds. Ask for help on here when ever you need.

  • Hi, Sorry to hear about your condition ,like you I was suffering with asthma, and had been for years,then all at once a new machine appears in the chest clinic at my local docs surgary.....and hey they found that I like you did not have asthma but COPD, sorry to say yes it gets worse ,if you get chance to go on courses take the chance and follow the excercises, they do help.I am oldtimer now and excersices .I too much anymore I am on oxygen 24/7, I saw my specialist JULY 2013nd was given the bad news that they can do no more for me and I was now terminal, shoock me to hear this, but here I am nearly 12months down the line and ready to see same specialist again. I take it one day at a time and thank god for brining me through the night.. you must do these excercises if at all possible they are important part of helping you, sorry to be such a miserable old git but

    I feel better for telling someone how things are wuith me, enjoy your family keep a big smile on your face and treat each day as any other.

    take care GOOD LUCK hope to chat in another 12 months cheers

  • If you haven't yet, do make sure you get a CT scan and spirometry tests. For this you need a hospital referral - hopefully you already have one but pester your GP if not. I eventually got mine when my regular GP was away and I saw a young junior doctor. Some doctors, particularly GPs refer to all chronic lung conditions as COPD, but there are plenty more eg; bronchiectasis referred to below which is more often characterised by a chronic chesty cough. It is possible to have more than one as well, eg asthma and bronch, or asthma and COPD. So - call the BLF helpline and pester that doctor!

  • Hi ive had asthma since 8 aswell it can vary from person to person call the BFL helpline for help ans support

  • Hi kluvtigger,I am here to tell you ,get exersizing go on a diet if you are to heavy and you will be helping yourself and your condition no end .I was a heavy smoker ,over weight ,and a lazy sod :0) I got the news about my COPD and decided not to lie down and accept the gloom and doom stories ,I have stopped smoking ,lost loads of weight and exersize 4 times a week at my local gym .I just been to the Hostpital for a check up and they have told me that I have won 20% of my lung capacity back ,so never say never .By the way you write kluvtigger like a Dutch word ?.All the best Thomlin.

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