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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