should I be worried?

I feel a bit silly posting on this site but think it's the nearest I can find to what' bothering me. I'm 64 and haven't smoked for 15 years when I stopped after two bouts of pleurisy. Since then I have developed various joint and soft tissue problems including fibromyalgia but am otherwise (I think) in good health. However for many months I have been concerned that I wake in the morning feeling what I can only describe as 'clogged up' in my chest, then coughing quite a few times and bringing up globules of clear catarrh or phlegm. More recently I have found I am also coughing sometimes during the day and once I start it is hard to stop, whilst at the same time I feel my upper chest is again congested and quite sore and my nose starts to run with all the coughing - I feel almost as if I have a cold though I don't and the symptoms have started suddenly each time. I was referred a while back to an ENT specialist and he said I had sinusitis and gave me what I think was an antibiotic spray but it seemed to make little difference, however the symptoms subsided by themselves so he discharged me. I continue to feel concerned, especially with the daytime coughing as well. I also have pain around my ribs but had a bad fall some years back during which I fractured ribs and a physio I saw last week for a general assessment has referred me for physio for the aching and pain around my chest area so that may not have anything to do with the coughing. I would be grateful to hear anyone's thoughts on what might be going on! Many thanks, Sue

7 Replies

  • Hi Sue - obviously we cannot guess or diagnose what your problem might be, but as an ex smoker I think it would be perfectly reasonable to ask your GP for a spirometry test (assuming you have not already had one). This can be done at your GP surgery or a local chest clinic and is simply a matter of blowing hard into a tube three times - they then take the 'best of three' measurements and look to see if it is suggestive of an obstructive or reasrictive lung disease. This can then be confirmed or looked into further depending on the results. The test will also show if you have a normal healthy lung function - in which case they can at least rule out conditions such as COPD or Pulmonary Fibrosis and similar. You could, if you wish, try phoning the British Lung Foundation helpline - they have nurses you can talk to and advise you or put your mind at rest about things .. read about it here - Hope your chest and your concerns are cleared up soon! Best Wishes, Vanessa

  • Thanks Vanessa, I may ask the GP though if I do I risk being thought of as neurotic as I already have fibromyalgia which seems to be viewed as all in the head! I think my actual lung function must be ok because I can exercise fairly hard and recover well - walked 6 miles last weekend, the first Ramblers walk of many ( :) ) and even when climbing was fine. I just want to understand what's going on. I will have a look at the helpline and may phone them. I think it's an inflammatory problem which links to the fibro but no medic seems remotely interested when I tell them so I can't be sure. Thanks again. x

  • Hi Sue,

    I would totally agree with Parvati that as an ex smoker I would ask your GP for as spirometry test if only to rule out copd. ( at my doctors you can just book in with a nurse to have it done )

    I am a similar age and diagnosed 8 months ago.

    Prior to diagnosis I too was able to exercise and walk about 5 miles .I did not really suffer from much sob ....apart from hills.....which I had put down to age. My only real symptom was a very troublesome productive cough which I had foolishly ignored for 2/3 years as I was still smoking (Have quit since )

    As previously mentioned it is a simple test .....generally done by a nurse.

    Best of luck. ..... Coastal

  • Thanks both of you. x

  • Hi secondhandrose I agree with the advice given. COPD can have little symptoms in the early stages, but it is best to be tested as the sooner treatment can begin the better. I hope you haven't got it though. You could also ask your doctor for 'mucodyne' it really helps get the cataarh off your chest. Also do you eat a lot of dairy products? They can help cause mucus so it might be wise to try and cut them down a bit or cut out one of them to see if it makes any difference by a process of elimination. This worked for my sister who hasn't got a lung disease but did have a bad cough. Let us know how you get on please. xx

  • Hi, I have COPD, had it for 65 years, I am lucky not a lot of chest pain, touch wood. However I broke my right foot some years ago and also my humurous bone in my left arm in two places (not very humurous).They both healed very well but now years later when the weather changes or the air pressure I know about it because both area where I had the breaks ache and sometimes give me pain. that my be the case with you and your ribs, Hope this helps. P x

  • secondhandrose, welcome and know that your quest is not silly at all!

    Pain may be due to your coughing. I can only think of one solution for it is to do Active Cycle of Breathing Technique in the morning and in the evening. Here's the video:

    This should help in clearing your "globules" of phlegm. Phlegm accumulates when we sleep, so it's a good idea to try to get rid of it with some kind of exercises in order to shift it.

    I had pain due to coughing, I was prescribed Ibuprofen gel. It works, but it takes a few days for the pain to subside.

    I hope this helps you. Mic.

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