British Lung Foundation
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COPD or not COPD!

I was diagnosed with Asthma 3 years ago (in my early 50's) with no spirometry test just a nurse looking at me when I was breathless. Couple of winters proved difficult and have had nebulisers to get me through them. 3 years on, a change of doctor, a chest x-ray that said everything was ok and a spirometry test that said everything was normal (although I was not given the real test results) but cannot breath properly, can't exercise, depression (which is being treated) but I seem stuck in this virtual nobody knows what is wrong with me. Have given up the ciggies for the last 4 weeks now but I seem no better at all. Any suggestions as to what I do next? Although a nice man my new GP just said "does it really matter what the diagnosis is - do you need it for insurance purposes!!!" I replied that I need it for me and my family!!!

8 Replies

Good Morning Chrissy, firstly well done for giving up the cigs! best gift you could ever give yourself! and I'm sorry you have asthma, it is a very serious condition in itself, my daughter ended up in hospital for four days a few years ago,it was a very frightening time for us, she was given new inhalors and has managed since without any problems. I've had COPD for many years, though only got diagnosed 9 years ago and recently I started seeing a different doctor who thinks I might have asthma on top of the Emphysema and Bronchitis because of the very poor spirometry test I had at the beginning of the year.

I think if you have more than one complaint it then comes under the term of COPD though I could be wrong.

That spirometry test you had was yours and you can ask for a copy, I've asked for a copy of mine for the last few years,sometimes you get a nurse ratchet type who insists on you 'signing' for it ! but they cant refuse you because like I said it is yours.

I had an x-ray recently and it showed that the Emphysema had not changed much since the previous x-ray so it could be the Asthma giving the bad spirometry results.

There are a lot of things that can make your Asthma worse, animals, the dust mite, type of fuel you use,the list goes on and feeling like you can't breathe properly is frightening and depressing,so its good you are getting medication for both though I think it could take months before you feel the benefits.I think most people actualy feel worse before feeling better when giving up nicotine but stick with it,give yourself a pat on the back! sorry if this is a bit long but just wanted to say how you feel is of the most importance,if your inhalors dont work get a different one that does and then you will be able to exercise more which in turn will make you feel better in yourself.I hope you feel well very soon, take care,Carol x


Hi carole, im a newby today and felt i had to reply, i seem to be in the same situation as you. I was diagnosied empyhesema 8yrs ago after i caught legionairres disease, over the years i have asthma chronic broncithis and broncelectis from double pneumonia in my teens. I have lots of infections that seem to last for months, and the awful sputum about 8 times an hour non stop, it is embarrassing and tiring and i cannot leave home without boxes of tissues, are you the same. I have never been referred to a consultant but three weeks ago i went private, he told me i would be disabled within 4years on oxygen if i stop smoking i can add a few more years, I have not told my family they would be so upset. I have shyed away from inhalers as my mother died from emphy and she always said she went worse after starting them. I used them occassionly when i couldnt breathe. Specialist gave me a course of steriods and said he thinks all the sputum is my smoking as it is irriatating my lungs, he also gave me two inhalers havent got them with me as i am in bed rather poorly, think they are spirivia and subetomol, i have just come back off holiday where i has a

terrible cold for the two weeks which i think was caused by the air conditioning in the hotel, several times i couldnt breathe and my daughter panicked as it had never happened before. It happened again on flight home, really was frightening. I tried one of the inhalers and next day i was shakey and dizzy all day so im scared of using it again. Do you think the inhalers work on the leaflet it said if you stop using them your condition would worsen. Sorry to have gone on a bit feeling down and lonely i dont know anyone with the same ailments as me and have no one to chat to about it.



Hello Cas, you can chat with me about it any time you like, copd can be a very isolating illness, just remember your never alone. Cas, you dont sound like you are feeling well at all so lets see what we can do! First you realy need to try to stop smoking, I know its not easy I tried and failed about eight times before I finaly stopped for good! that was eight years ago and I'm so glad I did because I know I would be a lot worse now. My Mum had Emph as well and so I knew for a long time I was headed in the same direction but I wanted to give up smoking before I told the doctor how breathless I was all the time!.I had nicotine patches mid-strength,weaned down to low strength over 10 weeks. I think I was in denial when I was first prescribed inhalers and I didn't take them some days or just forgot but now I realise that they realy can make you feel better but you have to be strict with yourself and get into some kind of routine with the medication and stick with it!

Maybe its because I stopped smoking but I dont seem to have a lot of sputum but I know you could get some medicine to help with it.I do hope you feel better soon, sounds like you need the steroids to fight your cold and I hope you had a flu jab! Take care Cas, Carol x


Hi ChrissyP. Well done on the cig side.Try joining your local Breathe Easy group for friendship ,fun, and people who know what it is like to have COPD.

Richard Cornish



Reading post here it seems that a mix of Asthma and COPD happens often so it is hard to tell what is happening but great step stopping smoking it is not a cure only things do not deteriorate as fast for non smokers (also cuts heart risk 10 times higher for smokers)

Getting the right treatment and a referral to a lung specialist are the next best things that should happen for the sake of you and the family ((((hugs))))


Late to be getting asthma diagnosed it is a possible mild copd hard to say as I am not a doctor though response to treatment should tell somebody who is what is happening.

Doing as much in helping improve things by stopping smoking, taking a little exercise and keeping infection under control is best while waiting for the answers.


Thank you for your replies. I am going back to the doctor again and seeking my results and asking for a referral. I know it is difficult for the docs but I just feel so anxious that despite 3 types of inhalers and anti-depressants and giving up the ciggies I still feel breathless and rubbish.


You are doing the right thing - my husband felt the same as you did and eventually was referred to the specialist respiratory team who visited him at home - referred him to pulmonary rehab, checked his meds and life changed completely. As hard as it is when you are not feeling great - you must try to insist on a referral. My husband never has - typical man - told the specialist whilst he was in hospital he was coping well!!! and didn't need a specialist. Our practise nurse did the referral for the specialist team but I had to ask her for it. Sometimes there is specialist nurse in the practise. There are lots of different inhalers etc. Perhaps the BLF helpline could help you and advise. Good luck TAD xx


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