British Lung Foundation
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asthma or copd

Hi, I was recently taken into hospital because I was having trouble breathing, I had a chest xray done, and when the chest doctor came to see me the next day I asked if I had a chest infection, to which she replied as well as other things, and then said that "put it this way you have no more reserve left in your lungs you are using it, and if you dont stop smoking now you will be in and out of here (hospital) until you end up in a wheelchair with a oxygen canister with you 24/7" on my discharge notes she put AE COPD, my question is that in march of this year I had spirometry tests and they just shown that I had asthma, can asthma change to COPD that quick??? I am so confused I dont know who to believe I have COPD nurses coming to my home at the present (they have for the last 4 weeks also the physio comes and have had 3 further chest infections since coming out of hospital, the little bugs just dont want to leave my body for some reason. I would be grateful for any help to this rather confusing situation. Many Thanks Julia. sorry for the long question

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13 Replies

Hi darceynjo, welcome to the forum.

No need to apologise at all, lots of info on this site and very friendly people who are very supportive!

I have COPD and Asthma as well.

Smoking has caused my COPD and exposure to diesel fumes has given me Asthma.

You have written down more or less what I have been through.

*Ring the BFL Helpline and speak with the Nurse, she helped answer my questions.

Beat wishes


Hi Woodshaper, thanks for your reply I will ring the BLF helpline as you suggest, I still do smoke finding it hard to stop the added worry is making me smoke more.

I had pneumonia 15yrs ago which left me with asthma.

I am so confused I just feel like stopping all my meds and let nature take its course.

Best Wishes to you


Hi Julia, I think we all feel like giving up sometimes, depression comes and goes with COPD. Please don’t stop your medication, it will certainly make matters worse. Tell your COPD nurse how you feel and for goodness sake ring that helpline and tell them exactly how you feel, don't hold back. Keep in touch with this site, lots of people with lots of knowledge and support on here. Good luck.

Auntymary xx

Hi Aunty Mary, I am going to ring the helpline and my COPD nurse is coming today so I will have a word with her. my doctors surgery is useless they want you out as quick as they get you in, they dont have time to talk just give you your scripts and goodbye. Thanks Julia x

Greetings darceynjo without a big explanation the main difference between asthma and copd is the reversibility of the lowered lung function where asthma may have a 25% change in in fev1 for example returning patient to near normal function 5% reversibility is normal for copd, my thought is your doctors will be seeing less reversibility in your spyrometry tes now than in the the years before.

Calling the helpline to get clearer explanation will be your best way as you also need help with the quit smoking as soon as able to do it.

HI chang, apparantly (sorry about the spelling) I have trapped air in the lower parts of my lungs, and a build up of phlem which I cant fetch up, even though I take tablets for this, ahh well it will all come out in the wash thanks for your advice Julia

Hi there mate. Sorry to hear your news. Firstly Asthma is part of the group of lung diseases known as COPD. Asthma is a condition which causes breathing tubes to 'seize' thereby causing a breathing restriction which can be relieved by Ventolin etc. From what you describe, you also have Emphysema another part of the COPD group and yes, it is possible to have both conditions at once, but one does not grow into the other.

When you first notice unusual shortness of breath (not from exercise) you will have already lost 50% of lung function - these are the facts of life.

If you do not give up smoking immediately, your condition will accelerate. By stopping smoking, taking the correct drugs and getting involved with Respiratory Rehab you will slow down the rate of deterioration to that of a 'normal' person albeit with less ability. You have to learn to 'manage' the condition.

Almost everyone I kow that was diagnosed with Emphysema and carried on smoking was dead within 5 years.

When giving up - just stop. The 'addiction' to nicotine lasts 3 days. Breaking the 'habit' can last 5 years. Chew gum, start knitting, I am serious just keep your hands occupied. I smoked heavily for 45 years and giving up was so easy I was furious with myself for not doing it earlier. You need to want to do it.

Finally, giving up smoking is like NOT insulting your health care professionals and means you are serious about containing your condition. It says something about the dedication of our medical staff that they are prepared to help, even if you do smoke but it must be appallingly difficult for them.

Sorry to bang on about it - bear with me and I will explain. For many years, Emphysema was almost considered 'self inflicted' when in fact it can becaused by many industrial foundry processes, coal mining and most importantly SHS. Anyone who now doubts the dangers of SHS is a fool. So, when you tell people you have Emphysema, they will say "ah, a smoker" all smug like. There was no information regarding it's treatment and even healthcare professionals, knowing that it cannot be cured, were not really interested.

Now, there is a growing awareness that lung disease in general is a growing menace by virtue of pollution, general air quality, climate change. The recent cancer ad on TV concerning the risks associated with a prolonged cough had many thousands phoning up to check whether they had cancer. It is quite telling, that a very large proprtion were in the early stages of COPD. There are estimated to be around 2 million people in the UK with the condition, who are not seeking treatment because either they're scared, or do not want to give up smoking. How mad is that?

What I'm saying mate, is that you are not alone. One day, they will be able to use stem cells to repair broken lungs. Not in my lifetime, but possibly in my grandchildrens.

Sorry for the long post mate but hope it all helps. I have had 5 years on the 'severe' end and have done much research, remembering one persons symptoms and experiences might be very different from the rest, and that every day is different.

Hi Baron thankyou and I have taken on board what you have said, I am going to stop smoking and I mean that as I want to see my grandchildren grow up, thanks once again Julia

Sorry, didn't realise you were a lidy! You have the right attitude. There's two ways you can go now, but the only way is UP! They seem to have caught you at an earlier stage than mine, so due diligence now will ensure a fruitful life. If your condition worsens even after giving up smoking, do not be concerned. It will take time for the disease to 'plateau'.

Loads of experience here - much of it learned the hard way.

But, we're still here!

Good luck....

The Baron

I think in some cases stitch its just down to when your times up. The ones I've known who continued to smoke after diagnosis, ended up on oxygen sooner, had more chest infections which of course as we know can lead to further lung damage and knock on affect of further weakend lungs means further lung infections which can for some lead to an early or earlier death.

That is why it is so important to take care of ourselves, better by stopping smoking, eating heathily and exercise in order to help build the immune system, avoid contact with people who may be infected with a cold or the flu virus. It all makes sense just to look after ouselves better in order to help preserve our lungs and health in so doing we can slow the progress of deterioration. I know you already know this Stitch but others may not yet be convinced.

I did know a lady that smoked over for many years after she was diagnosed, until she no longer had the breath to smoke any more, was rushed to hospital, diagnosed with additional lung cancer on top of her copd, told she probably had 2 years max and went on to live a further 5 years. the last 4 years for her were not good at all, unable to dress herself in the last 2 years of life, very Sad. Smoking is just not worth the cost to our health and quality of life.

Wishing all easy breathing and good quality of life, able to live and enjoy life smoke free even with copd.

about symptom to diagnose

Hi Millstone, thanks for that just tried it and the results were COPD Julia

Hi Julia

Once Asthma becomes chronic it comes under the banner of COPD. Smoking will increase the chances of that happening and even hasten the progress of that. I can only recommend what I said in reply to Stitch about looking after our lungs.

Hope you can manage to be smoke free.

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