Not sure if I have COPD: Hi everyone... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

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Not sure if I have COPD


Hi everyone, happy new year..

I have struggled with anxiety for years and had all different symptoms. For the last 6 months my chest has felt tight. I have had my heart checked at the doctors and called the ambulance out but they all said it’s fine. It doesn’t get worse with exercise and I have no mucus although I feel I have some in my throat but nothing comes up. Can COPD just cause chest tightness on its own ? Any advice would be great, thankyou for your time and if you need any more info feel free to ask.

14 Replies

Usually i think you would sometimes have a rattle. Its diagnosed with a lung function test and then a CT scan.

You could request a lung function (aka Spirometry test) first to see how your lungs are functioning as thats also how asthma is diagnosed. If thats fine then its very unlikely to be COPD.

Could it perhaps be heartburn/indgestion or reflux.

I have terrible reflux an for ages i was convinced it was my heart, but it wasnt.

My partner had similar symptoms which turned out to be pericarditis. (An inflammation of the protective sac that surrounds your heart ). See GP, who will probably prescribe antiinflammatory meds.

Well are you in your 40's or older and been a smoker for many years? If you have been then there is a chance you have copd. If not then it is very unlikely. Do you have very close relations who have it? Or who passed from it? x

Silk10 in reply to hypercat54

Hi, I’m 31. I smoked from age 14 to 23 but quit. I probably smoked around 5 to 10 cigarettes a day when I smoked.

hypercat54 in reply to Silk10

It probably isn't copd then! That is usually caused by decades of heavy smoking. It wouldn't be unheard of for someone your age to be diagnosed unless you had a genetic link but it would be very unlikely.

Do you have any very close relations with it? x

Hidden in reply to hypercat54

Sorry Hypercat, copd is the umbrella name, covering Emphysema, chronic Bronchitis & chronic Asthma. even non smokers CAN get copd, A person may have just one of these conditions or a combination of all three, all the info is on the net & also taught through pulmonary rehab program of which i've completed 14 & due to start next one in early Feb. pulmonary rehab covers all aspects of copd education as well as exercise, usually an hour of each

hypercat54 in reply to Hidden

In the UK copd usually just covers emphysema and chronic bronchitis. I am well aware that non smokers can get copd which is why I asked about the genetic link. I merely pointed out that it was very unlikely to be copd at her age and smoking history. Or do you consider it usual for someone at 31 whether a smoker or not to be diagnosed with copd? I think you should do some reading on it. I do know what I am talking about.

The overwhelming majority of those diagnosed with copd are or have been smokers over several decades. These are the facts so please do read up on it.

Silk10 in reply to hypercat54

Also my Nan has COPD but is mid 70s and smoked for 50 years


Hi Silk10, i also have had this problem with the same results, go to hospital with chest pain & sob only to be told everything is fine, blood pressure, o2 levels, xrays all fine , very little bubbling in chest so sent home usually with paracetamol & told if pain persists to see gp, i'm severe copd emphysema @ 18% lung function. i exercise daily. attend the gym 3 times a wk, have completed 14 pulm rehab programs & eat a pretty healthy diet. i do believe the pain stems from over exertion which causes us to breath more through the upper chest instead of using the diaphragm breathing technique. but as is the case with copd we cant afford to take chances so best to be safe than sorry, stress & anxiety will also cause this problem. just always be aware of your breathing technique. remember to relax, shoulders down & practise pursed lip breathing. :-)

Silk10 in reply to Hidden

Yeah I definitely need to practice my breathing technique more. I don’t realise half the time that my shoulders are up by my ears and I’m tense. I suffer with anxiety a lot, have done for 6+ years but never had this type of persistent tight chest feeling. I’m hoping it is just anxiety but I always worry like mad and expect the worst, I called the ambulance out once as I thought it was heart related.

One of the hallmarks of COPD is increased breathlessness with exertion. Can you carry shopping up a hill without getting extremely out of breath?

Silk10 in reply to 2greys

Sometimes I will get out of breath just sitting down doing nothing, other times I can train in the gym and not notice it. The other day I ran 2 miles and it felt easier to breathe but sometimes it’s hard to breathe just doing day to day activities.

Thankyou for all of the replies guys. I appreciate the information and advice.

I suffer from both,the symptoms are almost identical for each.I learned that if I use my Ventolin inhaler first thing after awakening it makes my day oh so great.Or maybe your doctor could prescribe a different med for anxiety .I take Buspirone for anxiety,which works good.

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