British Lung Foundation
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Hi everyone, I am 51 year old female who quit smoking at 39. I thought I would feel better after quitting but did not. I started having breathing issues then and have had them since. Doctors think I have some type of restrictive airways disease and small airways disease. I was told then it might be COPD but super early. I was recently told, almost 10 years later, it might actually be Asthma COPD Overlap Syndrome. My biggest complaint is SOB, most of the time, but a lot worse hours after exercise. Just did a PFT to figure out if there was something else with my lungs during exercise and found out it is NOT my heart, and that I have enough oxygen in my system through an arterial blood gas test. They did find that my lacate levels after exercise are super high, at 10, and I am still dealing with SOB after exercise that nobody knows what it is. Thoughts?

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We cannot diagnose here as we are not doctors but certainly some of what you are describing is familiar to me. A PFT should give some clues about your condition. Small airways diseases are difficult to diagnose and are hidden on ordinary CT scans but can be seen indirectly on High Resolution CT. Although mine was suspected by my consultants (and by me) three years ago it was only finally confirmed last December eight years after the original damage. So.... a bit of a long haul, I’m afraid.

SADs are often rare which makes doctors reluctant to consider them: they don’t want to look like eager, fresh-faced junior doctors on ‘Holby’ Jumping up and down, convinced their patient has a rare condition.

So hang in there and politely push for more clarification.

K

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A lot of this is luck of the draw. I was diagnosed with moderate/severe fixed small airways obstruction and late onset asthma at 65, though I've never smoked. I used to get light-headed with exercise, but my main symptom is mucous. The only way to really find out what's causing the problem is to have a full lung function test (CT scan and spirometry), then start a course of treatment. The important goal is to make you feel better, so try not to get fobbed off by tests which don't show up anything. I believe you can buy Ventolin over the counter, so you could see if your symptoms improve with that, as it would indicate some asthma element. But it won't help COPD diseases, for which you would need prescribed medication. First step, I would suggest, is to discuss with your GP and push for a pulmonary consultant appointment. Hope you get on OK.

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