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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD Symptoms

01/11/2011

Question:

I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe COPD (smoker) and I am 66 years old. I do cough in the mornings, but not much. I have been told I have breathing problems but I never get short of breath even when playing tennis or walking briskly, which I do for two to three miles a day. Is this normal with my diagnosis?

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. The definition of COPD is a disease state characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually both progressive and associated with an abnormal response of the lung to noxious particles, most commonly cigarette smoke. 

Having moderate to severe COPD means that you have decreased airflow as measured by a breathing test called spirometry. Specifically, the FEV1 or the amount of air that can be exhaled in one second is decreased. For moderate COPD or GOLD stage 2 disease, the FEV1 is 50 to 80% of what we would predict for you.

For severe disease or GOLD stage 3, the FEV1 is 30 to 50% of what we would predict for you. So, if you were told that you have moderate to severe COPD, this is a wide range of predicted decrease in your lung function. At 30% most (but not all people) have some symptoms. At 50% and above some people have significant symptoms and some do not.
 
Generally, when people with moderate COPD maintain a high level of activity it helps in limiting the symptoms they may experience. It sounds like you maintain a good level of exercise on a regular basis and that, along with avoiding cigarette smoke and limiting inflammation in the lungs by using medications are the keys to staying well with COPD. 

For more information:

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Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University