What can I do to help improve my COPD symptoms?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016
Tammy sandt asked...

About 8 months ago I went to the hospital with chest pains. No heart attack, thank goodness but was told I had copd, mild case. I quit smoking 17 years ago. My regular Doctor never mentioned it so I never brought it up. I am concerned though. I don't need to walk very far before I am out of breath and it's hard to catch. I have an aunt that had copd, developed emphysema and died.She was I guessing in her 70's. I'm 51. what should I do and because my Dr. doesn't seem worried, should I be? Thank you, Tammy


Expert Answers

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

In reading your question there are several issues that come to my mind such as how was your COPD was diagnosed and how was it determined to be mild. If it is mild, why are you short of breath with little exertion and what can be done about it? I would suggest you have a breathing test called a spirometry. This should help in confirming the diagnosis of the COPD and in grading its severity. This breathing test may also help in deciding what kind of treatment you may need. If the shortness of breath is determined to be due to the COPD, then there may be treatment options (such as inhalers) that can help in improving your COPD symptoms. If on the other hand the test does not provide an explanation for your shortness of breath, then perhaps further tests may be necessary. At any rate, I would make sure there is some understanding as to the reason you are out of breath since your best guarantee for a good health is to remain active, and there are many options available to make that happen.