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 My chest x-ray showed COPD, is that bad?
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ilovelabbies
Rookie

19 Posts

Posted - Jan 09 2018 :  6:35:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My regular doc just had me do a chest x-ray and it showed COPD.
I moved from another state and can't get in to see a pulmonary doc till the end of Feb.
The doc I used to have told me I only had mild to moderate COPD. Was he being honest with me? Only been diagnosed for about 3 years and read somewhere that COPD showing up on a chest x-ray was bad.
Thanks for listening.

Jocopd
Member

USA
121 Posts

Posted - Jan 09 2018 :  7:15:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Trying to understand here. Your saying a different doc diagnosed you 3 years ago with mild to moderate copd?
And now a new doctor did an xray and says he sees you have copd.
You already knew you had it from the other diagnosis though right?
Have you been receiving any treatment in the last 3 years from when the first dr told you that you had it? Or is this just that the first dr did not do an xray to come to the conclusion you had copd?

The fact that it shows up on a chest xray is another diagnostic tool like the pft test or walk test or ldct.

Edited by - Jocopd on Jan 09 2018 7:20:10 PM
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jmrommes
Contributing Member

1842 Posts

Posted - Jan 09 2018 :  8:33:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
S-rays are not definitive diagnostic tools for COPD. X-rays can suggest COPD, but you need at least spirometry or a full Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) for definitive diagnosis. A CT scan can complete the diagnosis if necessary to confirm what the PFT or spirometry defined. Until you've had one or the other of these, any diagnosis is suspect. You're seeing a pulmonary doc in February. I would ask for a full evaluation and diagnostic workup. That way you'll know what the diagnosis is, what meds are being prescribed and why and what else you can do to help your situation.

Exercise not only lets me live, it enables me to have a life.
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ilovelabbies
Rookie

19 Posts

Posted - Jan 10 2018 :  4:26:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sorry for my babbling. Sometimes I don't make sense.
I lived in Georgia 3 years when I got diagnosed with COPD with a cat scan. The x-ray I had done and the POT showed no signs of me having it.
Fast forward to now, I have moved to illinois and don't have a pulmonary doc yet. My regular MD did a chest x-ray because I was coughing a lot. It showed COPD.
The x-ray I had in Georgia showed no COPD but the one I just had does.
I read somewhere that when COPD presents itself in an x-ray it is pretty advanced and I wanted to know if this was true.
My pulmonary doc in Georgia said I had mild to moderate. Could I have advanced that quick?
I know I feel awful. I am out of breath a lot and can't get in to see a pulmonary doc till the end of feb.
Thanks all.
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Jan-KS
Member

USA
82 Posts

Posted - Jan 10 2018 :  6:10:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I do think that the COPD showing up obviously on a regular chest X-ray could mean that your COPD has gotten worse during the past 3 yrs (having seen my own x-rays over the years I can clearly see the hyper lung inflation has progressed and measuring my chest confirms it - I am a petite person but my chest is 44" around which they call "barrel chested" as your rib cage expands to aid your lungs). - Pneumonia and lung cancer generally look quite different on a chest X-Ray. But it is possible what he was seeing was an exaccerbation of your current COPD but not being a pulmonologist didn't prescribe any medication for you (like steroids or an antibiotic)

When you were diagnosed 3 yrs agp was a reason suggested for your COPD such as being a smoker? Have you continued to smoke? If so, that does make COPD progress MUCH faster, but COPD can also just progress over time. A few years ago my lung function dropped 15% in about a year and a half. I have no idea what happened or why - I was not smoking or (as far as I know) exposed to some environmental toxin - I just had a few bad colds leading to exaccerbations during that time. I'm at 24% now, down from 39% 5 yrs ago (I suspect I'm actually worse than my last PFT showed, but when you get to stage 4 I'm not what good a PFT would do other than make you even more depressed. At any ratem I don't have another 15% to lose and not be extremely limited or dead.



When did the breathlessness begin - was it after your doctor suggested your COPD may have worsened - I ask that because many/most of us have what they call "air hunger" which is partially anxiety and partially too much air trapping in your lungs preventing you from taking a deep breath. Some people like myself can even have panic attacks when they are unable to take a deep breath even though my oxygen levels show that I'm just fine. It affects some people more than others. My husband has moderate COPD along with Congestive heart failure from 8 heart attacks - he's nearly always out of breath but it doesn't seem to bother him much, at most it's only terribly uncomfortable if his breathing is due to CHF and his lungs are filling up with fluid - but even then he doesn't panic like I would.

If you are actively sick (ie., coughing up a lot of stuff, bad cold etc) you could be having an exacerbation of your COPD which DOES need treatment sooner than the end of February. I would contact your new pulmonologists nurse and explain your symptoms so they can get you in sooner. They won't probably do a full diagnostic work-up but may just treat you for the exacerbation. These are the type of calls they frequently get from folks with COPD so don't feel like you are over-reacting. On the other hand - if there is NO excessive mucous and/or the breathlessness didn't come on suddenly, meaning it's just slowly progressed - I think you can wait until the end of February. If it's so severe you are having panic attacks then I would also contact the pulmonologist again.

If you are an extremely anxious person because of being SOB ask either doctor to prescribe you with some Xanax or similar drug to lower your anxiety. It also helps the SOB. When you get severely out of breath (and I hope you never do), many patients, like myself, are started on oral morphine which somehow relaxes the breathing muscles and lets you feel better. BOTH drugs are highly addictive so do your best to cope without them.

You may also want to purchase a pulse oximeter at the drug store or from Ebay (the ebay ones are usually made in china and not as sturdy but I've found them to be accurate). The oximeter can tell you the % your blood is satuarated with oxygen regardless of how out of breath you feel. So you may see a oxygenation level of 98% but still be out of breath. On the other hand, if you are consistently 90% or lower then you also have a problem with oxygenation and need to be placed on oxygen. That should warrant a call to your pulmonologist again to get in sooner since they can get you started on O2.

So in general - the COPD isn't going away and isn't going to progress by February. There is NOTHING the pulmonologist can give you that will slow it down or stop it (other than quitting smoking). He may prescribe you some inhalers or other drugs to dialate your airways and make you more comfortable - but generally all the doctors can do is treat the symptoms. BUT if you are actively sick that can actually make the COPD progress so you should be seen now.

I coughed a lot when I was smoking (regardless of whether I was well or sick) but since quitting 10 yrs ago I only cough during an exacerbation or after exposure to some air toxin.

If you are a smoker and the COPD has progressed you have run out of time - you need to Quit smoking NOW. You have hit rock bottom and must make this change in your life or you will die a very early death. My husband and I both successfully used Chantix to quit and had no side effects other than mild nausea the first few days and some terrible nightmares at night! (they were actually rather interesting to talk about).

Best of luck to you!

Jan C
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ilovelabbies
Rookie

19 Posts

Posted - Jan 13 2018 :  10:23:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bummer about the chest xray. I was hoping that it didn't necessarily mean that.
I am not a smoker and I am only 51 years old. My husband and I quit about 4 years ago using an ecigg long before I knew I had COPD.
I have panic disorder so I am well aware of what a panic attack feels like and my shortness of breath is not related.
I am just sick of the SOB. It is there almost all the time now. The inhalers don't even work. At least they feel like they don't
I don't even know what a exacerbation is or the percentages you mention with a PFT. I am sorry you are not doing well though. My last PFT didn't show any COPD. It was a cat scan that confirmed it.
How could it go from mild to moderate to me not able to breathe well
I have a pulsox but have not tried it out when I am extremely out of breath. It reads anywhere from 91 to 96.
I hate this disease
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jmrommes
Contributing Member

1842 Posts

Posted - Jan 13 2018 :  8:59:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The rate at which COPD sometimes progresses isn't always predictable. Usually they tell you that once you've quit smoking, within a couple of years, you will have stabilized and from that point on you'll lose lung function the same as a non-smoker. Unfortunately, it's not a sure thing for everyone. In addition, every time you get sick with something respiratory, you run the risk of doing more damage that you can't recover from.

One thing that often does help people is a daily exercise program where you work out both aerobically and for strength. Some times that can help stop the deterioration.

The other thing is to do everything you can to learn to manage and control your anxiety. Meds help, but talk therapy with someone who's skilled in that area can help you learn to manage and control your responses and reduce your anxiety attacks.

Jean

Exercise not only lets me live, it enables me to have a life.
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micah35
Member

52 Posts

Posted - Jan 14 2018 :  12:07:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Labbies, about 4 years ago I had an x-ray which showed possible abnormality of undetermined type (don't recall the language used), which was followed up by a CT scan which apparently showed mild COPD. My PFTs have always been mostly normal, with a high normal FEV1. I do yearly scans for lung cancer detection due to my long smoking history, and the most recent one apparently showed mild to moderate COPD, according to the radiologist. A (new) pulmonologist reviewed the same scan with me (following another mostly normal PFT) and said that she does not see any real signs of COPD on the scan -- at most very, very slight, so the reports seem to depend a great deal on who's reading the scan sometimes. Not sure who's right in my case. I quit smoking about 3 years ago, and while I don't feel any better, I'm sure I would be in much worse shape if I had continued. I'm curious how long you used the e-cig after quitting smoking cigarettes, and whether you still use them at all. Also, have you been checked for any other possible causes of your SOB? I hope you get the answers you need and some relief from your symptoms soon, as well as some peace of mind from at least having a better idea what you're dealing with and figuring out how best to control it. I think you will be happier in the long run by facing the situation head on now and taking back some control of the situation, starting with getting a copy of your PFT results and having someone explain the numbers, as well as using that pulse ox when you are active and out of breath, so that you can be sure you are getting adequate oxygen at all times. Best wishes to you, and you will get through this but you need to learn all you can about your health and be your own advocate whenever possible.
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