British Lung Foundation
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Still Hopeful

Hello, My name is Sabrina. I am 58 and was diagnosed with emphysema 10 years ago. The diagnosis was an accident as they saw lung scarring from pneumonia, did a lung biopsy and said I did not have lung cancer but they found a small spot of emphysema. I quit smoking and try to stay positive and active. I have not received any medical treatment for this yet and up until now did not have any symptoms. I now have a cough in the morning and it is hard to lay flat as it feels as if someone is sitting on my chest. How do you know when you need to start medical treatment? I have avoided this up to now as I live in the US and my insurance will lose their minds and possibly drop me or hike up my rates. Also, I don't want to be on drugs until I have to be. Is it ok to continue this way? I get my flu and pneumonia shots every year. This disease is never far from my mind. How do you forget it when every breath you take you can be reminded of the pending. I am grateful I found this site as the US sites are all doom and gloom. I want to be hopeful and see as many years as I can. I hope I can learn from everyone here on this site how to live my life to the fullest and not let this disease determine my happiness. Any info or advise will be so appreciated. Thank you, Sabrina

8 Replies

Hi and welcome, it was pneumonia that started my lung problems too, and I did smoke but stopped 40years ago.

I can understand your reluctance to start treatment ...but there are a few things you could try.

Can you sleep propped up with pillows to help with your breathing and your morning cough. There is a video of pursed lip breathing on you tube which I find helpful...breathe in gently through the nose and then out through the mouth with pursed lips...repeat a few times. I have a small battery hand held fan which I use on my face for a short time too.

I take a multi vitamin tablet with minerals, but not everyone agrees that it is necessary. Keep as active as you can to strengthen muscles and stamina....have a look at Dall05 posts ...he is inspirational.

Try and keep away from people with colds or flu, use hand wash often and if you start coughing discoloured mucus ask for medical help before an infection takes hold which may cause further damage.

I go to yoga classes and do meditation ...I try to do a session everyday they help me keep my mind in te moment and reduce anxiety.

But if you feel your lung condition is getting worse you must ask for medical help.

Take care


Hi Sabrina. I know exactly how you feel and it can be very distressing. I was diagnosed with COPD 30 years ago. During all that time I self managed it with breathing exercises and upper body exercises, especially chest and upper arm muscles. I have never needed medication. Last year my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away 3 months later. Because I was his only carer I didn't the time or the energy to take care of myself as I had always done, this triggered a major flare up of the COPD ( the first one I had ever had). This in turn led to severe anxiety the most distressing symptom being chest pains. Mine were so bad that even the doctor thought I was having a heart attack. Anxiety = chest pains = shallow breathing = for COPD sufferers breathlessness which begins the vicious circle. From my personal experience over the years my advice is TAKE CONTROL. Do breathing exercises several times a day, do upper body physical exercises several times a day. Most important of all get the anxiety sorted, get help from your doctor if necessary, it will only be for a short term. Sorry this is so long but I wanted you to know that you are not alone and that anything can trigger a flare up. Please look after yourself. Take care..


Hi Sabrina

Knitter has said wise words propping your self up is a better way of sleeping. I have RLD, PH and heart problems and I lose a further 12% lung function when flat. But you need to keep the positive attitude as long as you can. I know it is not always that easy but you have to take control of it. I always say to myself there are people worse of than me coping, so I can too.

Be Well


Hi again, just a PS to my previous post...if your cough carries on or gets worse it's best to get it checked out anyway...another X-ray may be necessary. Best wishes....better to be safe than sorry as they say.

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I`m sorry to say,Your insurance will already know or soon would if you were to make a claim,because it will be on your medical records as having being diagnosed with COPD.

I wish you well and as the majority say,plenty of excersise and a healthy diet.xx


Sabrina, you are right to be hopeful. Many of us have more than a spot of emphysema! But we are all alive and we all try to do things to improve our condition.

Congratulations that your stopped smoking. This is absolutely wonderful. This will lead you to a better health and give you years more to live. Keep it up!

First, let the doctor decide about the right diagnosis and its treatment.

Second, You could ask to be referred to a physiotherapist in order to obtain a frame to lift your back up in bed. This is the first thing they did with me in hospital – I have bronchiectasis, similar to emphysema; they put the head rest right up. Then I said I didn’t have that kind of bed at home; so they provided a bed back rest. You have to arrange your own cushions ( I have 3: 2 to put on the back and the 3rd one as a pillow)

Third, If you could do some exercises that would improve your condition, even if you think you can’t breathe now.

I do 2 kind; one is expanding lungs exercises, see the video

Then, I do some Chinese exercises called with a Chinese name, The 8 pieces of brocade (Brocade is silk, which is flexible, yet resistant to tear, very symbolic) Check what it does on Google. But here’s the video from YouTube:

Do explore QiGung because these are medical exercises. They combine movement with breathing and put the emphasis on the latter.

You could also read about the Alexander Technique to position your body to function nicely.

Well, that’s it. On a personal point, I searched the internet on music and instruments I found that the flute improves breathing. So I bought a flute and found a nice teacher. I am exhilarated by this new challenge. You have to explore what suits you, have a passion! Hope this helps, Mic


I'm so pleased you are enjoying your flute Mic, and I love the exercises thank you! :) huff xxx


Hello Sabrina, welcome to the site, I hope you drop by often! there is a fabulous bunch of people here with a lot of fun in them :) I agree gloom and doom is best avoided!!! you've had some great advice and I'm sure with your good sense and PMA you will have a great many happy and relatively healthy years ahead! Recently we have discussed the benefits of vitamin A and I've just started taking 10,000 IU a day. Hopefully these vits will help with cell renewal! :) exercise and nutrition and drink plenty of good water! hugs huff x


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