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possible copd, tests show nothing
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possible copd, tests show nothing

Hi, I am a 53-yr-old female, was a smoker for over 30 years.  Otherwise in good health, except for GERD and some neck arthritis, both of which are under control.  I have quit smoking many times, had quit for a year (again) and then  2 weeks ago I bought some cigarettes, got hooked again briefly.  I felt terrible after smoking - burning in my lungs, tightness, dizzy, lightheaded.  I stopped again and have not smoked since.  Since then I have had fairly persistent mild-moderate shortness of breath, off and on chest tightness and occasional mild burning in my lungs, a bit lightheaded and on and off fatigue.  I go about my life fine, but I do get tired more easily and feel very anxious about that and the SOB. I know that the quitting period is very unpleasant, including SOB, etc., so am hoping that may be it.  My mother has COPD and CHF, plus I am under a great deal of stress dealing with a difficult adult stepdaughter moving in so lots of anxiety.

I was checked by my PCP a few days ago, and then tonight in the ER.  My PCP heard good lung sounds, and a chest x-ray looked "great."  I am scheduled for spirometry.  Went to ER tonight, they did EKG, bloodwork, also said lungs seem fine.  Pulse ox is 98. Had a breathing treatment, never had one before - it seemed to help somewhat, less anxiety.  I know that COPD may not show up on x-rays until late - my lungs sound fine, I know that can happen?  Could I have mild COPD?  Or do my symptoms seem more advanced?  The doctor said COPD was possible, but no signs.  I know I need the PFT, and wish I could have had them in the ER.   They gave me a prescription for Albuterol, which I have never used before.  Any thoughts would be appreciated, thank you.

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I suspect that your symptoms are due to a combination of factors including, 1) your going back to smoking, your lungs and for that matter your entire body system jolted by the stimulation and irritation, 2) by stress and anxiety, and perhaps 3) the disappointment of going  back to smoking.  

Your lungs, after a full year of being smoke free may now be more sensitive than ever to the irritant effects of smoke and it is possible that you may have experienced some bronchial spasm, to account for your shortness of breath.  The timing of your return to smoking and the onset of shortness after, but not before, smoking make this a very likely possibility.

You may or may not have mild COPD, after smoking for more than 30 years but the “good lung sounds” and the normal chest X-ray are very reassuring.  The PFT’s will almost certainly confirm that you still have good lung power.

The most important thing you can do at this time is to make up your mind to stop smoking now and work with your doctor to make that happen.  Most states have a Quit Line and you may also want to call your state’s Quit Line.

You should also ask your doctor if he/she has considered the possibility of a cause of your recent shortness of breath, other than smoking or COPD, just to be on the safe side.

Good luck
3 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
hi im going through the same thing ive been a non smoker now for 14 months and i felt on top of the world till about 6 weeks ago i strted to feel breathless i went to doctors and was given a inhaler and told it was borderline c o p d then this last 2 weeks iv felt worse with slight chest pain even gettin bathed i am gasping for air i was at the docs again this week i av been given another inhaler and i go back tomorro for a blood test and a ecg has my blood pressure was up i now wish i hadnt started smoking all those years ago i also hope its not my heart
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Avatar_f_tn
Chrissy, I am on my mobile for the weekend, not computer, my last post had to limit.  I empathize very much but will wait to say more when U am back.
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