It's interesting...I was also dx'd as having COPD for many years (4 years); but now, with the latest PFT and a vast number of repeat pneumonias and a drastic drop in FEV1 since last year, my doc suggested to me it might be IPF, instead of COPD with perhaps some asthma and a little emphysema stuck in there for good measure...If you don't mind, I might add a few things below pertaining to my situation.
My FEV1 was 33% of predicted - last year it was 73%. And..my FVC (according to what I read, that's an indicator of restriction - is only 34% of predicted, and only improved 2% post. Now, I thought that FEV1 is a sign of obstruction...could the 40% drop from last year to this year also indicate pulmonary fibrosis or maybe mixed? I might add that I have GERD (probably another irritant to my lungs causing the scarring) and sleep apnea. It's also interesting that I realize now that I had major GERD in the early 90's, i'd wake up choking and coughing with my 'lungs on fire' feeling like I might die. No one told me it was GERD, even after it happened IN the hospital once! I quit smoking in 2003, and I truly think that some docs don't really dig deep into lung sx when someone smokes - it's "quit smoking and you'll feel better" (not all docs, mind you, and that attitude is changing, too). So, you have at least two disorders that can cause stuff to aspirate into your lungs and scar them. I'd never had pneumonia until 2004 (I'd had a couple bouts, but they weren't serious and only one was tx as inpatient (early 70's) due to severe debilitation secondary to being pregnant, getting poor prenatal care (no insurance), being told that n&v was 'normal' 24/7 (no insurance, remember?) and generally lousy care.
It was only in 2004 that I started on the 'merry go round' of multiple pneumonias, 18 since 9/04; 6 since 2/08. At first, I was told it was aspirant, then this last stay, I was told "no, aspirant pneumonia takes a long time to clear up - yours clears up within only a few days of antibiotics" so I was told it was bacterial. I go to bed feeling great, and wake up very ill, and am taken into the ER, get admitted and spend next 5-6 days marking time for antibiotics to work. Generally, within 3-4 hours, my fever has dropped, and within 24, I'm feeling much better.
I would LOVE to come out to Denver to be evaluated by the National Jewish Health center, (I grew up 60 miles north of Denver); but money is too tight to even think of it, and health would probably preclude me from driving that far...I can remember I used to drive MILES without trouble! If I could find a way to travel out that way, and if they were willing to evaluate me, I could always check with one of those places that fly sick people outside their home turf for treatment...using corporate jet downtime for that? I'll have to check it out!
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