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Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Message Board

Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Board Index

New to this an have lots of questions. Here is a little history.
I am 36 years old and have been smoking for about 18 years (there was about 2 years in that time that I did quit) usually smoke about half a pack a day (sometimes less - sometimes more).
For the past 3 years I have noticed lots of "breathing issues" I would wake up in the morning coughing up phlegm, really short of breath with exertion, and phlegmy cough throughout the day I brushed it off that I was out of shape (I am about 60 pounds overweight) and being a smoker. Also, started getting colds more than usual and everytime I get a cold it will settle in my chest and it will always turn into bronchitis. Came to the point last year that I went into the dr.'s office in December with bronchitis again (the 4th time) and she initially she refused to give me antibiotics because I have had been on them 4 times already. She finally gave in and put me on antibiotics, steroids, inhaler and a nebulizer (typical treatment for me).
This year I have had bronchitis 3 times this last time turned to pneumonia. Started mid September and I am still dealing with it. I have had 2 rounds of antibiotics, 2 weeks of steroids and on Symbicort, Advair, and Atrovent. Went back last week with severe shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing (sometimes with phlegm but sometimes will just be dry) and still having major fatigue.
Dr. was stumped she decided to rerun the chest xray which was ok, EKG, which was normal, and do a CBC, showed iron level a little low, she wasn't worried about the level, and White Blood count was high. Then she decided to hook me up to on oximeter (I have one at home which averages about 95-96) that day showed 92 and when I walked with it on showed it dipping down to 87-88. She was concerned stated that it could be a lot of things but she is suspecting asthma or COPD and decided to schedule a pulmonary function test and an overnight oximetry test (as I told her that I have screaming headaches when I wake up in the morning).
PFT is scheduled for October 11th.
Oximetry test results showed:
Recorded Time 7:33:36
Highest SpO2: 96% Lowest Sp02: 73% Mean Sp02: 91.6
Time with Sp02 less than 90% 1:36:48 (21.4%)
Time with Sp02 less than 89% 0:26:48 (5.9%)
Stated that the longest time with saturation less than 88% was 24 seconds
There were 11 desaturation events over 3 minutes and 16 desaturation events less than 3 minutes - Mean high was 93% and Mean low was 86.9%
Desaturation event index was 2.1 an hour show is shows NO sleep apnea.

Yesterday took the oximeter with me to the mailbox which is about 125 feet away started with 95% and 71 pulse by the time I got to the mailbox it was 89% and pulse was 110. By the time I got back to the house it was 85% and pulse was 115. I was absolutely exhausted and extremely short of breath.

Here are the questions -
Dr. said she is leaning towards asthma but, the fact that I smoke need to be checked for COPD. The inhalers do help me breathe a little better for a period of time but then I go back to having problems, I would think if it was asthma I would have a longer period of time with good breathing and my oxygen wouldn't be dipping down so low with just a little exertion.
How bad was that oximetry test?
With the PFT how do the differentiate between asthma and COPD?

Thank you for reading this. I know that I shouldn't freak out until I know the results of the PFT but I am that is just me. Something is for sure going on just need answers and I hate waiting!!

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