Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: copd | lung | smoker | symptom

Will My COPD Symptoms Worsen?

Friday, 27 Sep 2013 11:40 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I have severe COPD. I quit smoking more than 20 years ago, but my condition seems to be getting worse as I age. I am 87 with good vital signs, except for my breathing problems. Is this normal? 
 
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
I'm afraid this is expected. As a smoker, you damaged your lungs' reserve capacity, and have relied on what little capacity you had to stay feeling well until now.

As we age, we lose that capacity as our lung function declines, and now that you are running out of reserve capacity.
 
This is the unfortunate legacy of smoking. Often, it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when the disability will start. See your doctor for advice, because we do have inhaler meds and oral drugs that can optimize your function, and make you feel more comfortable.

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Dr. Hibberd's advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital work in emergency medicine and surgery.
 
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