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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Asthma

Question: Asthma or COPD

 shortbreathe - Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:03 pm


I am a 45 year old female, and a very recently reformed smoker. I have a family and personal history of bronchitis, but also a family history (10 or more relatives) of life long smoking with no cancer, or pulminary or breathing problems, including both parents and their siblings. (Most are in their 60's now)

Five years ago, I started to have short bouts of shortness of breath. Sometimes they are seasonal (worse in the spring or the fall) or caused by pollution or being around fumes like dryer sheets. Sometimes the bouts come about for no reason I am aware of and usually last for no more than a day. Then my breathing returns entirely to normal. I walk one to two miles a few times a week and have no problem with exertion. Occassionally, the cold air will hurt my lungs, or during one of these one day bouts, I may feel my heart beating strongly on the way up the stairs. But this resolves.

However, in the past three days, I have had constant chest pain upon inhalation, extreme shortness of breath and fatigue. I went to the emergency room and my oxygen level was 97, and then 100 percent after oxygen. My chest xray was completely normal. My lungs, upon listening, were entirely clear and without sound or wheezing. I blew into some sort of instrument (not a spirometer) and I exhaled at 350, with 400 being normal for my age and height, according to the nurse.

The doctor tended to think it wasn't COPD because it was intermittent, my lungs sounded good, my oxygen was fine. I know that COPD sometimes doesn't show any signs in the early stages. My breathing is better this afternoon.

I am no longer smoking. Please keep in mind that I also have reflux and what feels like constant post nasal drip.

I am not coughing, although when I clear my throat, I almost always bring up a little phlegm.

Could I be experiencing a bout of COPD? The doctor felt I had Hyperactive Airways Disease and he sent me home.

Please give me you thoughts.

Thank you,
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:47 am

User avatar Hi Shortbreathe,

I would tend to agree that this is less likely to be COPD. Your symptoms may be due to reactive airway disease (asthma) or possibly due to a viral infection causing worsening cold symptoms. The "triggers" you mention (cold air, etc.) are all known triggers of asthma.

I would suggest you see your primary care doctor for further evaluation. It may also be helpful to try using a dose of albuterol during one of these episodes to see if it helps some. Your doctor can help decide if this would be warranted.

Best wishes.
 eviltwin222 - Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:53 pm

I don't have asthma but I have had a sore throat for 3 weeks now. I also have recurring cold sympotons. I am in the city a lot and I am a fire dancer so I breathe in alot of smoke. Is there something I can do besides walk around with a gas mask? Is the smoke the cause of my problem or an irritant making another problem worst?

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