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What Does Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Feel Like?

COPD affects the patients whole life, and that of their family.

It is not just 'being short of breath' - fatigue, frustration and depression can all play their part. Whatever the cause of the patients COPD, there are three main symptoms. These are cough, breathlessness and wheeze. Cough and phlegm may have been present for many years, and there may have been gradually increasing breathlessness with exertion. Perhaps breathlessness was first noticed running for a bus, or digging the garden, or walking up hill, or eventually simply walking to the kitchen. Over the years, it may have occurred with less and less effort until it was present all the time.

COPD varies enormously from patient to patient. It depends which symptoms trouble you most and how severe they are. If you have other medical problems e.g. heart disease or diabetes, it is obviously harder to cope and symptoms may seem more severe. It depends whether you are otherwise well, or if you have additional problems to deal with. In general, patients first come to the attention of their doctor at around 40 to 50 years of age. They may have noticed increasing shortness of breath, fatigue or have been troubled with chest infections. This could have been happening over many years, getting gradually worse and worse, until eventually the patient realises that their problem is more than just getting older. Other patients may have had asthma for years, and start noticing that their treatment doesn't last as long as it used to, or work as well as it used to, or that they cannot blow as well as before. All these descriptions may be part of COPD.


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