I usually get bronchitis 3 or 4 times a year which occasionally turns into pneumonia. It usually takes me several rounds of antibiotics along with steroids, lots of breathing treatments (have home nebulizer), and about 2 weeks of rest to recover fully. In mid September I was diagnosed with severe bronchitis and ended up in the hospital for several days. This bout of bronchitis was worse than usual. It came on suddenly with the first symptoms starting on Sunday and was then full blown bronchitis on Monday. I had hoarseness, chest congestion, head congestion, runny nose, cough, and sore throat. I started to improve and was released from hospital (no sore throat, head congestion or runny nose and cough improved) but after a week was back to bronchitis (not quite as severe). Was given antibiotic injections at the doctor's office each day for three days. The cold symptoms completely disappeared. However, I continue to have a feeling of chest fullness/pressure, cough, hoarseness, fatigue, and short of breath with very little exertion. Only able to be at work 2 to 3 hours before extremely fatigued, coughing constantly and have difficulty breathing. End up going home for breathing treatment, cough meds and sleep. While in hospital they did chest X-ray which was normal and did pulse ox which was 98 to 99 each time. The diagnosis on my discharge paperwork was severe bronchitis with COPD exacerbation. Never heard of COPD before this. Also, I was recently diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (week before got sick). Haven't gotten cpap yet. They are waiting to get this stuff under control first. Been seeing my GP but now I have appointment in two weeks with a Pulmonary doc (earliest appt they had). Could this really be COPD even though X-ray and pulse ox were normal? What should I expect at appointment and what questions should I ask when I go? Do I need to push for earlier appointment? Feel really terrible but don't want to overreact.
First and most importantly, you should definitely “push” to get an earlier appointment, preferably during the first part of the week. Based on the symptoms you describe, you are really not getting better. The shortness of breath is especially of concern and you could actually be having some degree of respiratory failure, perhaps on the basis of pneumonia. You should not delay in seeking a reevaluation
The answer to your question, could this be COPD with normal X-ray and oximetry, the answer is definitely yes, you could have COPD, especially if you smoke cigarettes.
To have bronchitis 3-4 times a year is very abnormal unless you are consistently exposed to cigarette smoke and/or workplace irritants.
Whatever you have, be it COPD or some other type of respiratory disease, your doctors need to establish a diagnosis, with reasonable certainty. That is for the long run.
In the short run, right now, you need medical evaluation and care to address what is right now a very serious situation. Do not wait, for even one week. Call your doctor tomorrow, tell him your condition is worse and worrisome and ask that he/she intervene to get you seen quickly by a lung specialist. Do not take no for an answer.
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