New and just saw pulmonary specialist

Hi all and thanks for reading my post.  I just left the pulmonary specialist who said I have moderate COPD and stage 2.  I do not cough up phlegm or experience real shortness of breath and I told him that.  I walk at least a mile a day 6-7 days a week.  He said during my pulmonary function test the breathing improved 16% when medication was added.  I am not one that likes to take medications, all I take now is cholesterol medication and can't take statin so they have me on zetia.  He still gave me Spiriva sample and actually made me take it in his office.  This made me nervous (probably just because a new med but not sure).  Is taking this Spiriva going to stop the progression of the copd or just supposed to improve my breathing that I am not suffering with at this time.  He said I don't realize probably that my breathing is impaired.  The opinions of you here would be greatly appreciated.

26 Replies

  • If your results improved 16% after taking meds I would be using it straight away. That sounds like a pretty good improvement to me. You may not notice that you have problems but that could be because you're used to it. Go back and explain your concerns to the doctor he should be able to tell you more. Good luck xxx

  • Thank you Diesel12 for your response.  I think I felt more shortness of breath after taking this, is it supposed to do that?

  • Hi the Spiriva is a long acting bronchilator which helps strengthen the lungs in the long term.  You should also have another prevent ie symbicort which has immediate effect.  This opens the airway and makes it easier to breathe. 

    You should also have a reliever - salbutomal which is to be used as and when you need it.   If you feel you don't want to take meds it's up to you but why suffer breathlessness unless you have to?  x

  • Wow I didn't realize it strengthens the lungs, I thought these medications were just to treat symptoms?  As I said above I felt like I was getting shortness of breath after inhaling, which I didn't have before.

  • The rest of the meds treat symtoms but as they help you to breathe better they should cut down on exacerbations (periods when your breathing etc. get worse).  x

  • Thank goodness I have not had but one exacerbation and I earned it breathing harsh chemicals before I was aware not to.  I am going to maybe try it again this weekend when hubby is home but I still hate to take something that I don't feel I really need :-(

  • In 2014 during an exacerbation I stopped taking the powders (Tiotropium etc) as I thought that they were making it worse!

    When my wife took me to the hospital on Sunday morning the Dr said, "Why? When you are as bad as this we can't always get you back!! These reduce the risk and help if exacerbations start"

    I've not missed a day since - the comment was my wake up call!

    I take loads of drugs that have no apparent effect now - just because the Dr tells me to!

  • But you do need to if you have an exacerbation surely?   There's no point in taking something if you don't need it and you have the knowledge to make an informed decision.   If you don't have that knowledge then you have to trust your doctor.   x

  • Yes coughalot I surely would need for an exacerbation, as far as an informed decision that is questionable :::wink:::  I do feel I don't need it but several here have pointed out that I probably don't realize I do need it.  Have to mull this over and no I don't trust my doctor.  Trust you all here much more!

  • I don't really understand your problem.   They don't dish out medication for the sake of it - but to help improve your quality of life.  If you results improved by 16% then it is obviously doing it's job.  I too think that you have become used to not being 100%. Have faith


  • The 16% was during the PFT.  I do think that doctors here in the US dish out medications just for the sake of it.  I will retry this weekend taking it I guess as many here seem to think I should but I woke up with a headache this morning.

  • Are you drinking at least 2 litres of fluids a day?

  • Probably more than that Gerald, I've been a big water drinker for many years.  I also do drink a 16 oz green tea each morning.  Problem is that I haven't given up my 2 cups of coffee each morning!  I love my coffee still too much to give it up.

  • Fingers crossed for you - let us know won't you how you get on with it?


  • Thank you so much Jennifer.  I have not taken it today and not sure I will until I feel I need it.  Still trying to decide.  The thought of maybe taking a medication that I don't necessarily need and will have to take for the rest of my life scares me terribly.

  • Good morning Palms,

    How little of your day would be taken up with medication? In my life - a couple of minutes taking Fostair just before I clean my teeth in the morning, then that's it until evening time and another couple of minutes  before teeth cleaning, and a back up of Salamol if I need it before doing a job of physical work. Such a short time to sacrifice for giving me my life back.   It is your choice of course, and your decision. I'm pretty sure you would not be given a prescription for medication that you do not need - but you could always get a second opinion. There are far worse things to be scared of than something that will give you a brighter future.  Look at all these lovely people writing to you  - they aren't scared - they were all probably shocked to have their diagnosis too, and are here to encourage you to do the right thing for your health's sake.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.  We are always here for you if you need support.  Have a lovely weekend with your husband :-)


  • Thanks so much and boy do I appreciate all the wonderful feedback and support here, more than you know!  I just (at this time) am not breathless and all the side effects from medications.  Seems most are taking a lot of medication (although of course many are really suffering so of course they are taking medications) and then they are taking medications because of the medications.  Yep I'm a scaredy cat!

  • :-D :-D :-D


  • Hi you would not be proscribed medication if you didn't need it. All medication comes with side effects doesn't mean you will get them. I used to get exacerbation in Feb and October and didn't need to take my blue inhaler in between. But I still took my preventor inhalers every day. And now I have another medical condition and the medication I have to take for that. I have to have regular blood test because they can damage your liver and kidneys  . But I have to take them. Because if I didn't I would not beable to walk and I would be in pain all the time. And I am really scared. But I would rather take the medication even if they do come with side effects. 

  • I know it's always scary getting a diagnosis especially copd n then being given meds that we will probably take for the rest of our lives . However as said above you wouldn't be prescribed it if it wasn't to improve your health ..and they do - you will soon enjoy a brisker walk than you do now n maybe even longer. Taking the inhaler can feel like hard work on your lungs initially as you must fully exhale so that you can inhale the meds deeply into your lungs. Don't worry do as you doc says and enjoy your good health and mobility

  • Your meds are helping you in all ways.  Keep taking them.  I was diagnosed with moderate COPD 4 years ago and until then had such difficulty breathing.  I now take symbicort and Spiriva as preventers and feel fairly well most days.  I also have Ventolin as a reliever when needed.  The continuous cold weather doesn't do us chesties any favours, but at least we can keep going with the help of the medicines.

  • Hi Sherry. I was on Symbicort 200/6  (2 puffs am and pm) and Spiriva pm. It just wasn't doing the job for me. So my GP put me on Spiriva 400/12 only (2 puffs am and pm). (no spiriva) It worked wonders. I am now on 1 puff am and pm and occasionally forget the pm dose and still feel ok in the morning. Something good seems to be happening for once. Gerald.

  • Glad they are working for your Gerald!

  • Sorry you have trouble breathing Sherry, that must be just awful.  Luckily for me I have not had any problems thus far except the one time I soaked myself in chemicals before I knew I had this!  That was stupid of me for sure.

  • Some medications work for some people but not for others. Spiriva an Advair are very much in that category.

    For example, I can take Spiriva but Advair makes my breathing worse.

    I have read posts, on this forum and other forums, from a lot of people that either find Spiriva makes their breathing worse or cannot take it due to bad side effects.

    Many others swear by the stuff.

    If I take Spiriva continuously for a few days I start to get Irregular heartbeats, which is a relatively common side effect. That's why I don't take it all the time, which my doctor is aware of.

    PALMS1124 said "breathing improved 16% when medication was added" - she was referring to her PFT as she reiterated above. They don't use Spiriva for PFTs - usually ventolin (salbutamol), which indicates possible asthma if the readings are higher.

    The 2 are VERY different.


    P. S. I love the "Spiriva sample" that they just happen to have sitting around.

  • You are right with the PFT, it was ventolin and also right about the Spiriva sample.  Thanks Kflatt you made my Sunday :-)

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