British Lung Foundation
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Is it COPD

My wife has had a constant cough for a long time, probably over two years.She is a lifelong smoker since she was about 18 (70 now smoking about 10 a day) and the cough worries me considerably,she has tried to stop smoking on several occasions but without success.I can best describe the cough as very hoarse and particularly bad during her sleep and in the bedtime hours.We have seen our GP a few times now and after a chest XRAY which returned a normal result she had a further test where she blew into a tube,she does not appear to be very breathless.Following these tests our GP prescribes two inhalers one in the morning Spiriva 18 and one at night Seretide 500.We are a little confused because reading the leaflets this medication appears to be for COPD sufferers and yet she has not been officially diagnosed with this complaint. Her GP just says it is likely she will get COPD at some stage and the medication will help to reduce the coughing

6 Replies

Hi Brilliard

Sorry your wife is having problems. I don't think we can answer your question sweet. You will probably find it very helpful to telephone British Lung Foundation on 03000 030 555 and speak to one of the lovely nurses.



Hello Brilliard. First, the normal chest x ray is a good thing. From what you say, it sounds like the other test she had was spirometry which is a test for COPD and asthma.

It also sounds like you need to talk to your GP again or another GP in the practice about the results of the spirometry and what the diagnosis is or why she has been given inhalers if, as you say, she does not get breathless.

From what you say, it is sounding like your biggest problem is a lack of information from your GP and that is, I think what you need to get sorted so you know what you are dealing with.

You may benefit from talking to the BLF helpline too on 03000 030 555 open 10 - 6 about your wife's symptoms.




Yes I am sorry to hear that too. I am a smoker and my cough was very bad for years. The doctors refused to do an x-ray. I am asthmatic and was only given salbutomel inhaler. My visits to the doctor saying that my cough is very bad was ignored. I was not believed. It wasn't until about 4 years ago that I was given symbicort as well, I was diagnosed with COPD about 3 years ago and was given spiriva about 1 year ago. On my last check my nurse said I was just out of the COPD range and it was probably poorly controlled asthma before. So because I was a smoker my doctor ignored any symptons. That can't be right can it?

At least she hasn't got COPD yet.

Bev x


Thank you for your responses,I have had a nice long conversation with the BLF nurse who was both very nice and informative.She feels our GP needs to explain things a little better but in her view my wife probably suffers from asthma at this stage,she said she would be surprised if someone who had smoked for 50 years didn't show some indication of COPD. . She was very re assuring about things generally including the x ray results. She did say stopping smoking is the first step for a big improvement which I think we all know.

I have learned over the years not to continually nag my wife about smoking,but can anybody who has been a lifelong smoker and has managed to give it up tell me if the cough situation vastly improved.


Hi Brilliard,

The following is partly copied from an answer I gave to someone else.

I stopped last June with the aid of the wonder drug CHAMPIX. Unfortunately, you are only prescribed it if you've unsuccessfully tried everything else & (after tests) if your blood pressure is fairly normal & you have no kidney/liver problems. Your wife would probably be ok for this & the best part is that you can smoke while you take it for the first 2 weeks.

My constant coughing stopped fairly quickly & I still do not cough now

For all smokers out there - PLEASE stop - I was a fool to have smoked for 47 years & now have lung problems. .

Sue x


Hi Brillard,

Sorry to hear about your wife's condition. I stopped smoking after 48 years, I tried Champix, but was allergic, so went cold turkey, I had a hacking cough, so much that it was embarassing, never seemed to go away, there was a temp doctor at the time and he really helped me, gave me good advice and said that I probably was suffering from COPD, once I stopped smoking my cough gradually eased up. I had a lung function test which showed the doctor was right, I also had Asthma and Emphasemia, which they found with a CTscan. I think that your wife will stop, but she has to be ready and willing to do so, maybe like me and others when the cough gets so bad she will decide to give up, but she has to be ready to do so, the more people get on at a smoker the less likely they will give up. Talk to you doctor again and ask for more tests to be done, or at least explain to your wife what COPD is. Good Luck and regards to your wife, hope she sees the light sooner rather than later.


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