Confused by what nurse told me

After years of wheezing and then struggling to breath I was told I had Asthma, but the inhalers had little effect. I moved doctors and when I asked about a program for my Asthma I was sent to the practice's nurse. I had several tests and then more tests a couple of months later, I had to blow in to a tube and she read the readings, I was given a second brown inhaler which helped a little bit but it didn't do much. My night wheezing etc continued as did the phlegm day in day out. But it was another nurse who looked at my notes during a routine visit for a flu jab who said how are you coping with your COPD? What I said. I have asthma, no you don't on these results and your history you clearly have COPD. I'm confused at what to do now, one nurse said nothing yet the other was convinced i have COPD, as do I I might add. Explains everything.

7 Replies

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  • If there is a doubt between asthma & COPD they do a spirometry test (blowing in a tube linked to a small machine at the surgery.. or sitting in a sealed 'cell' at the hospital).

    They take 'before' readings, then get you to take, say, 4 pulls on Ventolin (or other bronchodilator) wait c 20 minutes for its effect and then do the same test again and compare the results.

    Asthma shows significantly greater degree of reversibility than COPD does.

    Ring any bells?

  • I was told I had asthma, then COPD and one GP told me it was a ' grey area' to try and distinguish between the two.

    The nurse who carried out my last Spirometry said COPD .....but I have been referred to a consultant again so we shall see.

  • Ask for a copy of your spirometry results leeboy, then you can call the BLF helpline (03000 030 555 office hours) and talk them through with one of their nurses. The fev1 (forced expiratory volume in one second, i.e. all you can blow out in that time) is the key diagnostic result and its shown as a percentage of what would be normal for your age, weight and gender. And soulsaver is right, that doing the test a second time after taking a bronchodilator will show if there's reversibility as a result of the medication. Total reversibility to normal would probably indicate asthma, but there are grey areas where there could be some of each. And if no, or very little, reversibility then it would likely be copd.

  • There is definitely a grey area - I have been diagnosed with both copd and asthma using the spirometry tests Trees has described - and my respiratory nurse told me clearly that I definitely have both. I think the tendency these days to stick everything under the one umbrella of copd is confusing for people. When I was applying for travel insurance earlier this year the person I spoke to told me asthma comes under copd so I didn't need to declare it but she made a note of it when I told her that I had definitely been diagnosed with both. x

  • I was told by my respiratory nurse that I have COPD with some reversibility, which would suggest asthma by another name. I know I have to use my blue Ventolin inhaler several times a week, sometimes several times a day; on top of my green preventer inhaler. The brown inhaler for asthma did little for me.

  • Sounds like you are me, I was told the same thing lol. You must not be using the correct inhalers, the put me on Breo which is great and Spuriva respirmat big name and Ventolin when needed. Did your eyes pop out when they told you mine sure as hell did and to this day until I see the respirologist how bad it is

  • Hi to all and thanks for your replies. I have both it now seems, which is quite normal. Asthma and COPD. Not great but you'll see by my new post that flying is becoming a real traumatic event.

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