British Lung Foundation
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My 34yr old wife has recently been told she has COPD!!!

I am a 42yr old ex-squaddie and we have recently found out my 34yr old wife (mother of 3) has been diagnosed with COPD following her being hospitalised for 18 days in

July / August 2012 with a pneumothorax and clinical emphysema.

She has always been slim, suffered from asthma, suffers from depression / anxiety, has arryhtmia and was admitted to DRI with pneumonia in 2008 followed by further lung problems in 2010 (x-ray showed a shadow on her lung).

To top it all off we live apart and have 2 children together one is diagnosed as having conduct disorder and the second has been suggested as possibly having aspergers.

I understand this is a lot to take into account but to be honest I'm petrified I'm going to loose her and I want to know how long we really have left together.

She has stopped smoking and now weighs 8st.

PLEASE someone give me the answers because the Dr will not give me a straight anwer to any of this...

With thanks for any advice or answers,


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13 Replies

Hello Glyn. COPD is not an instant death sentence. Being diagnosed is a good thing as she can now be given the right medication. There are various stages to this condition and all of them last for years, especially if you remain as active as possible. I suggest you ring the British Lung Foundation helpline tomorrow after 10 a.m. on 03000 030 555 as they have medically qualified people who will talk to you and answer all of your questions. Good luck.

P.S. She has already done the best thing she possibly could by stopping smoking.

First of all calm down...! Panic and being anxious will not cure anything.

COPD is an overall term for chronic bronchitis or emphysema, so she had already been diagnosed last year. Having been an asthma sufferer the symptoms of COPD could have been hidden some time as they are very similar and some GP's will be satisfied that it's just the asthma flaring up again.

I had pneumonia 20 years ago and that seemed to be the start of my problems, which was diagnosed as Asthma almost straight away but was only diagnosed with COPD in 2006.

Stopping smoking is supposed to be a good thing for COPD sufferers. It helps to slow down the problem. It will not go away though, 'Chronic' is the first word of COPD and that means long-term, uncurable. Having said that, many people diagnosed with COPD will lead pretty normal lives for many years to come. You only have to browse the forum here to find some in their 80s.

There is loads of useful info and advice on the BLF website at

It may be an idea to call their helpline on 03000 030 555, Mon-Fri 10am-6pm. They will take a few details and call you back.

Thanks to both of you I guess I am panicing slightly lol

However being trained as battlefield medic I'm very rattled when it comes to things I can't physically see so to speak (never was any good with illness).

I'll give the BLF a call tomorrow and go back to bed now :) (who knows I may even sleep too lol)

Thank you again


Goodnight. x

Good luck Glynis and let us know how it all goes.

Lynne x

Sorry, that was Glyn damn predictive text lol

Hi Glyn,

As your wife is at a fairly young age, she may want to ask the GP or consultant to be tested for Alpha1 Antytripsin, a hereditary form of COPD, emphysema, its a simple blood test, the helpline will advise you further about this.

All good wishes to you and the family.



Im sorry to hear you are having a difficult time. I know you will have read all the posts but I want to reiterate that your wife is young to have developed COPD so I would advise you to pick up the phone and lets make sure she is directed towards the best care. Anyone can ring the BLF helpline, also we have a counselor who provides telephone support.

03000 030 555



Sorry but I had an after though and I just wondered if you meant surgical emphysema?



Yes sorry.

Dewsbury Hospital had junior Dr try to fit the drain to re-inflate her lung after it collapsed.

And got it completely wrong and as a direct result wham bang Emphysema


Surgical emphysema in itself will normally resolve itself within a few days of occurrence. Pneumonia can leave some scarring on the lungs, without talking to you and finding out more information. However since its now five months since the pneumothorax your wife can have spirometry which will show more clearly what is going on.



There is no correct answer for that I have had COPD for over 20yrs stil not on Oxygen but on the verge for a few yrs gave up smoking & diagnosed 8 yrs later as it is a family disease so everyone who smoked in the famiy had COPD. Eating over 3000 calories as we use an awful lot of energy breathing, exercising/walking as much as possible maybe a pulmonary rehab course ill help

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