British Lung Foundation
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Copd age 21

I'm 21 years old started smoking when I was 13, when I was 18 I had bad cough that lasted ages (I cough a lot now) and I coughed up bright blood about 4 times and lots of green phlem but I ignored it cos I thought I was ill. I have always been a nervous person so when I started struggling for breath I thought I was having panic attacks, now I think it's emphysema. I get out of breath just walking upstairs, I can't take deep breath with out yawning and even then I don't always get deep breath, I wake up some nights with terrible ear pain where my head feels so heavy, I wheeze and I have the feeling of having a band around my ribs.. Everyting I have read has said I'm to young to get copd, I was born at 25 weeks and weighed under 2 lbs so don't think my lungs were ever very good. I'm so terrified all the time that I get the shakes, my breathing is so bad already that just walking the mile to work has me out of breath, and walking up 3 flights of stairs has me out of breath shaking and throat feels raw.. It terrifies me to go gp and have the tests done and have it confirmed, it's so final. I will never get a boyfriend or have a baby. My life feels over before its begun. I have quit smoking now. I have left it so long I know I have made it worse. Just typing this message has me shaking like a leaf. What was your symptoms that made you go gp?

24 Replies

Sorry to hear how bad you feel, but you do need to go GP. They can get you tested to see whet is going on. If it is COPD you will get medication to help you.

I was diagnosed COPD after I was admitted to hospital, I thought I had a bad cold, kept going gps, three times in one week and I was getting worse every time I went. The GP was a very good one, and didn't like where I was going so she had me admitted. I was in hospital for 2 weeks, and checked for pneumonia. Apparently it was caught in time, I had breathing tests and that was the crunch. I had emphysema. I was sent home with three inhalers and a nasal spray. So go gps and get sorted.

Sending you hugs and best wishes.



Missy21 go to your GP. Getting yourself in such a state is very bad for you. It will upset your breathing. You may find it is a chest infection and all the panic and worry is making you worse. Please ring for an appointment tomorrow. You are very young and have taken the first step by quitting smoking. Please let me know what your Doctor says. xxx

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Hey Missy21

firstly I want to give you a big cuddle and calm you down.

Oh there is no point in worrying yourself silly at this point or even if you do have copd. There are many oldies (sorry to some on our site) that live a very fulfilled life.

The first thing to do is get yourself to the doctors - ring up first thing in the morning.

whatever the diagnosis it I am sure it will be greatly helped by getting the proper medication.

I felt like you 8 months ago and after inhalers I'm at the gym 3 times a week giving my lungs a good workout.

as for boyfriends don't worry about them, you concentrate on getting yourself the right diagnoses and the right meds and you too will be able to twerk like me! 50 this year! LOL

Others will be along soon to give you help and support so try not to worry.



Hi Missy21, how very scary for you. You do need to see your doctor, you know that, but is there anyone who can support you and go with you - a family member or friend maybe? It would be good to have someone there by your side. Everyone has different symptoms but they all get help from their doctor. My husband had to see our GP to get diagnosed with sarcoidosis (affects lungs and airways) but that was nearly 24 years ago and he is still here.

It is not the end of your life, just the beginning and you can go on to meet someone special so please do not think like that. Try and be as calm as you can and maybe get in touch with the British Lung foundation as they have people on hand to help you and advise you. You have lots of support on here too and I just want to reach out to you and give you a great big hug because I feel you need that right now.

Take care, and do let us know how things turn out for you. xxxx


Hi Missy21, I am sorry that you are having to go through such a stressful time. Over the years I have learnt that every time I went to the dr thinking I knew what was wrong with me, it was actually something else. So please do not worry yourself sick at this stage: go see your dr and let them find out what is going on. You will then be in a better position to treat and look after yourself. Please do not get ahead of yourself thinking that your life is over, you won't have a boyfriend etc. Concentrate on finding out what health issues you have and then get yourself treated and healed as much as possible. Do you have family and friend support? As Sassy said it would be great if you could have someone with you during the dr visits etc. Sending you a big hug and very best wishes. Take care and let us know how you get on xxx.


Hi and welcome missy21. I was diagnosed with very severe emphysema about 4 years ago. At first I could hardly do anything. It took me about 4 stops just to get upstairs ( 14 steps ) After getting properly diagnosed and getting the correct medicine I can do a lot more. I can go up the stairs in one go without getting even puffed. I go to PR ( Pulmonary Rehabilitation ) This gives you exercises to do and also teaches you all about lungs and diseases etc. Last week I walked for an hour on the treadmill and covered 2 miles. I am mid 60's.

As for boyfriends,. there is someone out there for everyone, so don't worry too much about that. Go to your GP, get a correct diagnosis and, if needed, the correct medicines.

Keep us all updated on how you get on.


you must go to the docs missy, you could easily have a bad chest infection that could clear up with antibiotics - this can cause green phlegm and some blood spotting. Do not leave it to get worse. And please let us know how it goes.

There are plenty of boys out there and when the time is right you will find the right one for you - just do not settle for a frog :D


Hi missy

I can feel how scared you are coming through from your post and I am sorry you are in this situation.

It does seem to me you are getting ahead of yourself and thinking the worst, which lots of us do.

I feel you have 2 options sweetheart. You can ignore it (and I feel you have already acknowledged that ignoring it last time when you were ill was not the right thing to do) and carry on worrying yourself silly, continueing to feel unwell, preventing any treatment which could improve your life.

OR You can visit your GP and find out exactly what you are dealing with, which may not be half as bad as you imagine. If they find you do have problems with your lungs then they would try and improve your symptoms with medication and this will prevent further damage. It could of course be a particuarly stubburn nasty infection which can be sorted.

You ask how we found out. Well I was a baby when I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis and I, along with many other bronchs who have had it since baby or childhood went out with our friends, had dates with lads and married and had kids.

Hopefully it will easily be sorted but if not, it is certainly not the end. Help youself hun and seek the help of someone who can help you.

I too suffer with anxiety, so please don't think I am being harsh. You have made the first step by posting here - that must have taken some doing, Please 'phone BLF - click the red balloon above for details - the nurses are very helpful and supportive.

Please let us know how you get on missy and I wish you well. Big hugs.

love cx


Welcome Missy

You have been given excellent advice by all these good people. Theres not much I could add.I would think at your young age it is probably an infection. Please calm down and get yourself to the g.p

Please let us know how you make out, as we are all concerned for you.

Feel better

Rubyxx 😊 😊


I went a&e tonight told them all my symptoms and a trailer away the nurse and Dr said I'm to young for it to be serious, I asked for spirometry and they said no, in the end they did chest xray and heart test and said they looked ok and sent me away


Hi Missy still make appointment to see your GP to have a talk with him and get his opinion.

Thanks for getting back. xx


Could it still be copd? Can chest xray tell if you have emphysema or copy? I wasn't taken very seriously at the hospital, kept saying I was to young and making out I was imagining it


Hi Missy, please go and see your GP so that systematic tests can be done to work out why you have these chest/breathing issues. The GP will have much more interest and time to investigate than A&e. As I was trying to say earlier, often what we think we have is actually not what we have. But it is still important and of great benefit to work out what is troubling you. So please see your GP and request that they send you for spirometry etc to work out why you have these chest/breathing issues. I am surprised the hospital did not prescribe you any antibiotics as is sounds like you may have an infection, but discuss this with your GP. Best wishesxxxx

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Morning Missy, lots of good advice already from people who know how you are feeling, Pluck up courage and get some help,things aren't always what you imagine, Good luck, Best wishes,Bulpit


Please get in touch with BLF missy for advice. A and e's job is to check if you are acute enough to be admitted or fit to go home the staff are generally not senior on a Sunday night. Seems both they ad you are concentrating on emphysema and there are other lung conditions which do effect younger folks. They may of course be right but it is really the job of your GP to decide and arrange any tests she/he feels necessary, or not.

Good on ya for actually going - you must have felt scared.

Hope all goes well for you.


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Oh hun go see your gp. Completely understand about the panics we've all been through them one way or another. I'm new to this site and you will find the kindest and most caring people here who have plenty of good advice for you. I know it's hard but go to your gp and find out what you're dealing with. All the best honey xx


Would you be willing to talk about having COPD at such a young age for a newspaper health feature Martyn Halle 0208-245-2918/07973-531933


.... at this point in time she does not have COPD.....


Just came from gp she checked my lungs and said they sounded good, my oxygen is good she had me blow into a peak flow measure thing and she said it was over 400 and good but my throat is red raw and I said to her I think that's where I have to constantly open my mouth to yawn and get breath. Is this how people get diagnosed? I don't think the thing I blew into was a spirometry. She wants me to have more blood test done to check my thyroid and blood count. She told me the same thing they said at a&e that I'm anxious but it feels like they saying that because of my age, if my breathing gets as bad as it did last night I will be straight back down the hospital.


Hi Missey

Did the gp give you anything to take at all? Sounds like your peak fllow is good. Chest x-ray is good.You sound good.Are you overthinkig and panicking? I do that. Then my heart starts beating really fast and I hyperventilate.That is overbreathing. So I was taught to take a deep breath in, hold to a count of 6, then breath out to a count of 8. Do this numerous times and your heartbeat will slow down.Do you know what your pulse is?

Hyperventilating can really scare you. I'm not saying thats what you have.Just mentioning another option.

Feel better

Rubyxx 😊


Sorry to hear you are having a bad time. Take it one day at a time. Go to your GP and get a diagnosis. It may not be what you think it is. Stay away from some of those frightful internet sites, they will wind you up into a frenzy. I remember my first diagnosis. I went straight to the internet and was so frightened, I was having panic attacks. Not any more.

I come here and I also have a wonderful supportive circle of friends and family (the important ones).

Slow down! Stop every few minutes if you have to, to get your breath back. Don't feel you have to climb all 3 flights of stairs in one go.

My example:

Getting out of bed, I will straighten the sheets and rest. Tidy around the room and rest.

If I want a cup of tea, I go downstairs and rest. Then I will put the kettle on, teabags etc. and rest.

That's just the first hour of getting up.

It is about pacing yourself. I forget some days that I am not so well and because I walk fast find I am getting breathless. So I have to slow down.

Apart from the rambling, I guess what I am trying to say is to pace yourself, take it easy and slow down.

Rest when you have to and you will find you can go further throughout the day without being too breathless.

Good luck x


The sooner you go to your GP the sooner you'll get meds the sooner you'll start to feel normal again. Of course you'll have a hubby and babies and all that. Stop being mean to yourself and start treating yourself with love and kindness. Pick up the phone, make the GP appointment and go get help xx


The dr , nurses and gp said they think I have anxiety but haven't done the spirometry, would copd show up on a chest xray? They all said I my lungs sound clear but can that prove I don't have copd? I feel because I am down as suffering depression that there not listening to my symptoms. It's not normal to cough up blood.


Hi missy

Just checking in with you. You feeling any better?


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