Can you get better from COPD - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

47,267 members55,977 posts

Can you get better from COPD


I was diagnosed with COPD 8 years ago. The doctor said it was mild at that time. I immediately gave up smoking, but have been on nicotine chewing gum ever since., now find it impossible to stop. My question is can your lungs get better or do they deteriorate over years. The Dr said I have 80 percent lung function for a person of my age. (62 now) .

23 Replies

You have fantastic lung function - my husband is 67 and now has 27%!! But the good news is he is still here and we have a great quality of life. You cannot get better from COPD - once the damage is done it is done and becomes a progressive disease. However you can mitigate the damage through stopping smoking, keeping fit and eating healthily. With a lung function of 80% I would say keep doing what you are doing! Lots of love TAD xx

Kingfisher48 in reply to Hidden

Thanks tad. That sounds encouraging, I am frightened about what the future holds for me, and that gives me hope.


Hi COPD is irreversible and it does naturally decline with age. Having said that there is a lot you can do to hold it stable or even increase your lung function a bit by leading a healthy lifestyle. I am 61 and have a lung function of 78% which is a bit higher than when I was diagnosed 5 years ago (don't know why coz my lifestyle isn't especially healthy) - just lucky I guess - so far anyway.

To put it into perspective when I was diagnosed I was very worried about it but the doctor said something else would most likely get me first ie old age. So unless you want to live to 110 don't worry too much.

Having said that do all you can to avoid infection and take your lungs very seriously. If you think anything is wrong seek immediate medical help as exacerbations can further damage your lungs. It would be a good idea to have a rescue pack from your doctors in case you can't get immediate help. Mine consists of ab's and mild steroids. So my advice is to look after yourself, be aware of it, but not to let it overwhelm your life and concentrate on living and enjoying life. Ok? x

Kingfisher48 in reply to Hidden

Thx for reply. I have abs and puffers as well as back up from Drs. I do get depressed and feel sorry for myself at times. As like everyone else apart from emphysema I have other health problems. I am allergic to the sun and suffer from very bad cold sores, so have to avoid cold winds etc. this usually means I find it difficult to go out. Shopping arcades is usually the only places I can get any excercise, and that is only at weekends as I work all week. I have a treadmill but find it hard to motivate myself to use it.

Depending on your lifestyle, exercise, good diet and a good attitude you could improve, I know I have! huff x

Thx. I will try to excercise more.

Hi Kingfisher, I stopped smoking 12 years ago and I'm still addicted to nicotine gum. I recently had flu & didn't chew any for 9 days, champion I thought thinking the flu had disguised the nicotine withdrawal! soon as I started feeling better I got the craving for my gum and back on it lol

I think it is lot harder to give up the gum, than when I gave up smoking, I suppose because I have never got rid of the nicotine craving.

Noicotine gum, I went on the patches for 3 months then the gum for 3 months then patches for 3 months, finally I stopped. After my experience with the gum and aching jaw, I have never ever ever had another piece of gum but better still no digs since Feb 2011. My bullous emphysema has not changed since being diagnosed back in early 2010, I exercise every day, eat OK and have a very positive out look, 2013 lung function was fev1 81% chest x ray every year shows no change, last x ray was in march this year.

Kingfisher48 in reply to 1968

Hi thx for reply, sounds encouraging. I have thought about trying the patches to see if it will stop the craving for something in my mouth all the time. The only time I am not chewing is when I am asleep. Obviously I try to stay healthy and eat well, but exercising is more difficult, I work in office all day and shattered when I get home. Also sprained my ankle recently so been sedentary for a little while. After reading all the replies I must make more of an effort to excercise.

Hi kingfisher,

unfortunately there no cure for copd,

but it can get better :) if you see what i mean!!. i,e if your bad with it at times, it can be improved firstly by stopping smoking, exercising, and eating a good balanced diet.

At least the chewing gum is far better than the ciggies :) with 80pc lung function you have a fantastic chance of a good life,,if you look after yourself,

but never forget you have copd.even if your feeling ok.

kindest regards jimmy :)

Hi Kingfisher,

COPD does not get better, but your attitude towards can.

Besides listening to all of the advice listed by other posters. One thing you have to remember and that is NOT to allow yourself to get sick. Quite frankly, I found that you have to tell people that have a COLD or FLU to keep away from you and automatically wash your hands and do not touch your face with your hands. It may be a big ask, but it is your health that matters.

Colds are the worst, they remain in your system and develop into Bronchial problems and further develop in your lungs. Thus ending the process with scaring (Emphysema). and it is NOT reversible.

Sorry for being a proverbial pain in the backside, it is your health that matters the most and no one in the medical profession tells you that



ps I was chewing gum for almost ten years, I found drinking Chinese/Green tea as a substitute, and then eventually back to normal???? whatever that is

Thx for reply, it is difficult to stay away from people with colds and flu, as I work with 30 other people in one large office. I always drink green tea. But still on the gum. I think the nicotine poison also gives me lots of ulcers and mouth cankers, but still I cannot give up. I am hopeless case, no will power.


I was diagnosed with very mild emphysema back in 1992. I quit smoking then but became addicted to Nicorette gum for about 10 years. I was fine for years just a little

trouble climbing stairs or hills. Then about 4 years ago I was getting really breathless just walking on an incline. Now, at 65, after 2 hospitalizations for chest infections I was diagnosed with severe emphysema. I am having a lung function test later this month. it will probably be scary. Yet having said that, we are all different and I still manage to work 3 days a week. I think exercise is very important. I could have done more and avoiding people with colds etc.

Look after yourself.


Thank you for your reply. It is very difficult to stay away from people with colds, I work in large office and being a construction company is also very dusty. I cannot afford to give up work and as yet not ill enough to go on the sick. I am frightened about what the future holds. Sitting at a computer all day doesn't allow me the time to do much excercise, maybe next year when I retire I hope to be more active.

Take heart and just remember one thing.....if you were 100% healthy and fit, had always lived a perfect life ie diet, fitness, non smoking know boring, as you age, your lungs would still deteriorate as part of the ageing process. I think you can improve on your lung function as anyone that has been on Pulmanary Rehab will say. Six weeks sees an amazing difference in lung function. You obviously are not desperate for that but as everyone says, eat well, plenty of fresh air, stay away from not just fags but smoke and dust of any kind and try to keep infection free but you need to monitor your exercise so that it progresses......once you've done a certain walk or discipline for a week or too, it is no longer an exercise, it needs to be enlarged upon.

Hi, thx for reply, I do not do a lot of any excercise, I work full time behind a computer and at my age I feel too tired to do anything when I get home. I do try and go out at weekends, but have bad cold sore infections, so wind, cold or sun makes them break out, and have got increasingly worse since my diagnosis of emphysema. I have got a treadmill, but it's hard to get the motivation to use it.

Can agree with you on that...exercise is boring and going to the gym is even worse. Problems with gyms are they are open to the public and the public don't like to smell of sweat so in amongst their treasured bag of essential ... is body sprays and deodorants, which they insist on spraying around as though they were spray painting the on the floor gasping for breath. Next, the public are dedicated to exercise...exercise at all costs. They might be off work with the dreaded M&S Finest Man Flu but exercise, they must. Result, they come to the gym, I go to the hospital with severe chest infection. But worse, much worse than that, after the gym has taken your hard earned cash for the use of it's premises you come to realise the sad fact that you have paid through the nose to be ....BORED...bored out of your skull, almost wishing that COPD would finish you off there and then.

So how do I manage to keep this lithe like figure....perhaps not. My six pack has turned into a keg....

At work...before I retired. You can exercise at your desk and it will help you. Try tensing your muscles and relaxing them....all of them individually. Start with your neck and slowly work your way down your body. You yawn...yeh we all do....that's your body saying wake up, I need more oxygen...ok, so instead of just yawning, make a song and dance about it.....clasp your hands together, brace your arms and shove them forward and stretch forward, yawn , unclasp your hands and swing your arms out to the side and stretch across your shoulders...great, you've yawned, stretched and exercised all in one move and with a bit of luck, while you were stretching, you might have knocked your bosses coffee cup out of his hands....serves him right for creeping up on you.

Now exercises like that will get you through the working day but now for fun exercise.

Get yourself a Wii machine and some of their sorts games. You could go the whole hog and lash out for a balance board too but just a basic machine to start with. Now in the privacy of your own home, no fancy gym clothes or nothing, you can go ten pin bowling, cycling, play golf, tennis, baseball....anything you want really. When you are tired, just sit for a second and get back to it. I Know, you have never go time for it but you have really. All these tv channels we have nowadays but there is still times when there is nothing you really want to watch on, so then have your fun. Put the radio on and switch over to the's a bit like the really old Guiness adverts....."but by golly, it does you good".

Another good exercise is typing out this reply to your question. Sorry, I've gone on a bit....I could have played two round of golf.....but then....

Thanks Brian your reply made me laugh. When I was first diagnosed, I did buy a WIi and used it regularly. But like everything else if you are doing it alone it still gets boring. I had the balance board as well. I probably used for at least 6 months. I certainly agree with you about the gym, I can't think of anything worse. My kids bought me the treadmill I used that for about 6 months, but now bored with that. I suppose if I can keep finding different things to use for 6 months at a time I will stay healthy. Thanks for taking the trouble to reply it is much appreciated talking to someone who understands.

If you gat really desperate for exercise, try this one. Take the batteries out of the tv remote control.....then you have to get out of your chair to change channels, volume up or down.....I used to do that but my phone bill went through the roof.....|I phoned the missus to come and change channels etc even if she was in the next room...

Lol Cornish. My TV only works with remote, so no good.


Hi Kingfisher I haven't heard of cold sores getting worse with emphysema but I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. I think it's more likely made worse by stress and depression over your illness rather than the illness itself. And tiredness.

I understand exactly how you feel about working full time and being knackered coz I was in that situation too, but I think a lot of it is getting older rather than your mild copd. I have a few friends who are working full time in their 60's without lung problems who are always tired. Can you afford to work less hours, even if it's only dropping a day? That's what I did and it certainly helped.

It sounds like everything is getting on top of you, but I really think you don't need to worry too much about your 80% lung function. If it does progress it isn't usually quick and you can survive with a lung function of 6% . Most on here would kill for a lung function as good as yours and many here are still working with lung functions under 50% (some a lot lower).

Do you think you could be suffering from depression? It is very common in chronic conditions. If so please seek treatment for it. x

Great reply coughalot has i know i have COPD mild but i do compare myself with other people my age sometimes on many diferant things and think that thay get tired and need a rest just like i do


You may also like...