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A woman with smoke around her in shapes of warning signs

The Subtle Warning Signs of COPD

The warning signs are so subtle, it’s ridiculous. Taking a look back, I can remember each and every warning sign. Collectively together, and many years later, it all makes sense. I didn’t know that the consequences of my actions would leave me chronically ill.

The early days of smoking

In the beginning, it was the ease of inhaling smoke into my lungs. It felt so good and seemed to release all the pressures of my day. Then, upon the exhale we became artistic as a large plume of the smoke came out in shapes of hearts and O’s. Oh, I will never get over that feeling of inhaling and exhaling smoke from my lungs. There will never be a better feeling in this world.

Smoking seems to speed up my metabolism and I really like the new me that is about 10 pounds lighter. I, in fact, am more willing to push back food for another cigarette anytime.

The start of an addiction

Then the gentle reminders begin. My body starts telling me when I need another cigarette. I gladly oblige convincing myself that I am not in too deep yet and can certainly quit anytime I choose. Ha Ha. It’s the biggest lie ever!

Fast forward about 5 years and with continually smoking, a clearing of the throat action is normal. It is subtle but each of us sounds a little different as we clear. It is in the middle of every sentence and every conversation and becomes a sound unique to each of us. Also developing is a little post nasal drip.

A cough and other early signs

After another 5 years and with continually smoking, a cough begins to develop. It’s really nothing major but it goes with the clearing throat that ends now with a slight cough. It clears the lungs a little deeper than the throat clearing and the sound becomes yours and yours alone. The postnasal drip becomes a bit more intense now.

Keep going for another 5 years and we are in deep. Now when I clear my throat and cough, I am producing a small amount of phlegm. Now I can never be without a Kleenex in my pocket and purse. My postnasal drip is increasing but not more annoying than the phlegm production.

My kids can now find me in any store or public place because my throat clearing and coughing has become a very predominant and unique sound. They just have to stay quiet for a minute and they know I will begin coughing in a minute or two.

Smoking is affecting every aspect of life

Panic sets in any time I am out of cigarettes or in a non-smoking environment. I am in deep now and it is now beginning to affect the very essence of my life. My phlegm production has increased from a teaspoon to a tablespoon now and has a brown color to it.

Decisions need to be made. I am becoming short of breath with exertion or any activity. I have not seen a doctor yet and I am still keeping it a secret. I don’t want anyone to know how these coughing bouts are affecting me because if I do, they will force me to quit. As I try to push past the shortness of breath, my heart now beats like a drum.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • BeverlyDeMarco
    6 months ago

    I CAN RELATE TO THIS POST ABOUT STARTING SMOKING AND FEELING GOOD ABOUT IT , ALL THE KIDS DID IT BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, IT WAS COOL! AFTER A FEW YEARS YOU STARTED FEELING SHORT OF BREATHE BUT IT STILL DIDNT STOP ME,, I CONTINUED TO SMOKE, THERE WERE NO WARNINGS ON THE PACKS SAYING HOW IT GIVES YOU LUNG PROBLEMS AND CANCER, BY THAT TIME I WAS SOOOOOO ADDICTED TO SMOKING. I EVEN WORKED IN A RESTAURANT FOR 30 YEARS IN THE SMOKING SECTION GETTING EVERYBODY SMOKE. THEN CAME THE TIME WHEN I HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL SEVERAL TIMES FOR BREATHING ISSUES, I AM NOW ON OXYGEN 24/7 AND BEARY LEAVE MY HOUSE. I WOULD LOVE TO SUE THE TOBACCO COMPANY FOR NOT PUTTING WARNINGS ON THE PACKS WAY BACK WHEN.I THINK I AM IN STAGE 4 OF COPD AND ITS HORRIBLE TO LIVE LIKE THIS NOW. I ONLY GET TO GO OUT TO REHAB THREE DAYS A WEEK, OTHER THAN THAT I HAVE NO ENERGY TO DO ANYTHING, EVEN HOUSEWORK AND SHOWERING TAKE AN EFFORT TO DO.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    I hear you Beverly DeMarco. This disease is not for sissies. The years we smoked it was so acceptable and working in a restaurant must have been horrendous. We can only look ahead now, because looking back makes us so sad. Thank you for commenting Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Slyboots
    6 months ago

    I didn’t smoke long enough to have any of the symptoms you describe when I was smoking, but over the last several years I have experienced an increase in post nasal drip and
    phlegm and have to cough to clear it since being diagnosed with copd. My friends say my voice is nasally, and it is, but I don’t know how to change it. I take an inhaler 4 times a day, and clean my head with the netti pot twice a day. It is what it is.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    Many have said that their voice changed with COPD. Have you had a frank talk with your doctor about this. He may be able to offer you something to keep you comfortable. Thanks for sharing today Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • skybluegreen
    6 months ago

    We’re you tested for Alpha 1? If not, you should be.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    That is a very good point. Thank you for sharing it Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

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