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Old 07-12-2007, 07:50 AM   #1
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Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

I was diagnosed a few months ago with mild COPD and wondered if anyone else has a mild burning-like sensation in their chest and/or backaches. I smoked for 33 years and quit 8 months ago. Unfortunately, it took my 66 year old mother dying of lung cancer for me to open my eyes, but I'm thankful that I did. I can't really say that I'm short of breath because I'm active and don't have any problems with daily activities or exercise, but something just doesn't feel right with my breathing. My PFTs showed 69% FEV1 and my chest x-ray indicated some flattening of the hemi-diaphram that was compatible with mild COPD. I'm really scared of how this whole thing is going to progress even though my GP told me after the tests that I had "quit smoking in time" and that I would get better as long as I stayed away from the smoking.

Does anyone else have a similar situation or any thoughts?

 
Old 07-13-2007, 08:52 PM   #2
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hi there, Bee. Unfortunately, once a person HAS Copd, it won't go away. But the longer you don't smoke, the disease's progress can slow down greatly. If you do your best to stay healthy as possible; steer clear of people who have viruses...as people with Copd are prone to getting sicker than healthy folks; and each chest infection can further scar the lungs. Also, get yearly slu shots; and wash hands several times a day...and get a pnemonia shot every 5 years. This will help you stay healthy. No one can say how long your lungs will stabilize...usually people's lungs do improve after stopping smoking..but in time there will be an eventual decline in your lung function. But you may very well have years before this happens; everyone is different. Copd always does progress though...it never just stays at one level indefinately. You should know the truth; but just live your life and be happy as possible. There's nothing to be gained from worry. Look on your internet search engine for Copd support groups; there are messgae boards out there that are very helpful...they'll answer any questions you might have...Debbie

 
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Old 07-14-2007, 11:00 AM   #3
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hi Debbie:

Thanks for taking time to reply and giving me your thoughts. I've had this sort of burning/squeezing like sensation in the center of my chest all week and ended up going to the emergency room last night because I woke up with it. I wanted to make sure nothing was going on with my heart and it doesn't seem to be. They did a chest x-ray, which they said was normal and ran some bloodwork and ended up telling me that I should take Prilosec for my stomach. I've got an appointment with my GP this week anyway and am going to discuss it all with her. I'm not to the point yet where I'm accepting that I have copd and I refuse to until I get it confirmed by a pulmonology specialist which I'm going to have her recommend me to when I see her.

Tell me a little about yourself and why you're on this board. I'm almost 48 and have been relatively healthy most of my life so this is very difficult for me to comprehend, especially when I'm going to be getting remarried in September to the love of my life. I'm just very scared right now. How about you? What are you dealing with?

 
Old 07-15-2007, 09:48 AM   #4
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hello again, Bee. I totally can relate to what you are going through right now. I too kept hoping it was wrong: that I didn't have Copd. But as time passed, I just made myself "get over it". Not totally, mind you! I still get scared when I let myself dwell on it. I notice that I am more suseptable to viruses now. I babysit my 2 year old grandson...and when he gets sick, I almost always end up getting sick myuself; sometimes real sick. I also notice that odors bother me more; as well as humidity, etc...There are many subtle differences in how my body handles things now. Sometimes when I get a chest cold, it will affect my breathing. It makes me sad/mad that I didn't stop smoking years ago; before I developed this lung disease. But mainly, I don't dwell on all that; it doesn't help anything. I just do what I can today, to stay healthy as possible. If you only have mild Copd, you can do so much to ensure you'll live many good years, before the Copd gets bad. Avoid cigarette smoke; and avoid sick people! Each time we get sick, it can further damage our lungs. Stay active; and try to stay positive...don't dwell on what you can't change. Good luck to you; and do post again if you'd like. I could tell you so much more; but I have to run...take care now! Don't worry; it'll be okay...Debbie
P.S. I was 48 when I was diagnosed; now I am 52. So, you and me seem to be walking down a similar boat in life (at least in this regard).

 
Old 07-15-2007, 03:09 PM   #5
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hi Debbie, I hope you don't mind if I ask you some questions about your condition and what led up to your diagnosis. When did you start smoking and how long did you smoke? How heavy? When did you quit? Did you start having symptoms before or after you quit? Do you ever have sort of a heavy feeling right in the center of your chest, but nothing really painful, just uncomfortable? I've been walking around with this for the last 2 weeks and just generally feeling bad and all I can think about is "is this the best that I'm going to feel for the rest of my life?" I'd love to hear anything you'd like to share regarding your situation and how you've coped with it from day one. Also, do you notice a big difference in how you feel since you were diagnosed 4 years ago?

Do you know what your FEV1 % is right now? It sounds like you are doing fairly well and I'm so glad for you. I've been reading other threads where so many are so worse off and it just breaks my heart. Thanks so much for your kindness and taking the time out to post. Bee

 
Old 07-15-2007, 07:51 PM   #6
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hello again, Bee. Let's see; I managed to quit smoking for two years, then relapsed back to it again, unfortunately. Right before I quit for that two years, I did notice I'd get a heavy feeling in my chest, and also pain in my upper back region. When I stopped smoking, eventually this went away. I never had that problem again, until I started back up smoking again. About 2-3 months after I had resumed smoking, I felt the same tightness in my chest and upper back region. It came and went though, and I did my best to ignore it! In time though,. I caught a virus that led into a bad chest cold. As the weeks went by, it got worse and worse. I went to my regular doctor a couple of times, and he kept telling me I just had a virus of some kind. I instinctively knew he was wrong; that I had never felt like this bore. I kept getting worse; and then my breathing became bad...I'd find myself out of breath just sitting watching a movie! This terrible chest cold lasted 3 1/2 months!
I finally asked my doctor for a referral to a pulmonologist; and after getting some breathing tests done, and a chest x-ray, told me I had emphysema. My Fev1 is 70%; so I am in the mild/moderate stage now. I did quit smoking right before my "official" diagnosis...and I know that has helped me stay stable for so long. Sometimes I get winded; and I get more tired now than I used to. But life is still real good for me. Matter of fact, I just read a letter (I wish I could share it with you; but we're not allowed to mention any other Internet site on this board, or we'll be banned from this board); this fellow was diagnosed with Copd 27 years ago; and he's still going strong. He had actually quit smoking at age 36; and Copd hasn't stopped him from living a full life. He now is on oxygen, after having Copd for 27 years; but he still stays active as possible; and he has a great attitude. What this all means is that Copd can and does present challenges to people that have it...but depending on how determined you are to live life to the fullest, you needn't let it rule your life. It is a disease that can be managed. There is a man; his name was Bill Horton..he had so much to say on how to live well after being diagnosed with Copd. The medicines we have to day are better than the ones they had a decade or so ago; and now treatments are coming in the coming years that will help people to even live longer with Copd. I don't know how long you smoked (if you smoked, and for how long); but i read that cigarettes kill 200,000 people a year in this country (I might be wrong about the number being just from the uS; but that's what I rememberright off the top of my head). Lots of people are getting sick in various ways from cigarettes; so you aren't alone! I also read that countries like England, Ireland and Scotland have seen a massive increase in people who now have Copd. It's the 4th leading cause of death in this country. So, its a big problem. Also, what shocks me is that people are being diagnosed with this disease younger and younger. Yet cigarettes are still legal to buy...it's a crying shame. My own dad died of lung cancer; but before that, he had emphysema (for 10 years). But he was in his 70's before he was diagnosed with emphysema. Anyway, I'll be glad to write to you, as long as you need someone to talk to. I wish I could give you my e-mail address; but that isn't allowed. Anyway, take care; you'll be fine...Debbie

 
Old 07-16-2007, 05:33 AM   #7
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hey Debbie:

I really enjoyed reading your post and hearing all about your experiences with this lung disease. It helps so much and gives me hope for the future. I started smoking when I was 14 years old and never smoked heavy, maybe averaging 1/2 to 3/4 pack a day until I was around 30. Then I just started smoking "socially" and would go days without, then have a beer and smoke then. I guess I had this false sense of security that I didn't smoke enough to be hurting myself and that I'd quit before I got anything bad. It wasn't until last November when my mother announced that she had lung cancer and was going in the hospital for surgery that I truly woke up. I quit that very day (Nov 11, 2006) and would like to say I haven't smoked since, but I did relapse and have one cigarette on two separate occasions in the past 9 months, but I will not ever have another one! Unfortunately, my mother passed away after surgery from complications of pneumonia and respiratory failure and she was only 66 years old! She was another source of false security for me because she smoked heavy and I always said to myself, she is in her 60's still going strong and I'm 18 years younger and don't smoke half as much as she does, so I'm good. What an ignorant way of thinking!

I'm sorry to hear about your dad and for what you are experiencing, but you have a great attitude and I'm convinced that that is half the battle. Your FEV is really good and actually borderline normal if I'm not mistaken. Can you describe to me what a typical day is like for you and how you feel throughout the day? How easy is it for you to get out of breath? I don't feel like I can't do what I did before as far as climbing stairs, working out, running errands, etc., but I just have this general sense of not feeling quite right and only slightly sob, if at all. The one constant is this heaviness I feel in my chest and feeling like I don't have the energy I used to. I keep hoping that some of it has to do with the fact that I'm 48 years old and no "spring chicken", but I know something is wrong.

I haven't been to a pulmonary specialist yet, but I have an appt. with my GP this Thurs. and I'm going to get her to refer me to one so that I can get a more accurate diagnosis. I'm not satisfied with just being told that "I have mild COPD." I want a more detailed explanation of what is wrong with me so that I can know exactly what I'm up against and get proactive with my treatment. I also want to rule out any cancer. I guess right now, I'm just scared and feel as if my life is ruined because of this and just panicking. Thanks for all of your insight. It is a big help and comfort to me. Bee

 
Old 07-16-2007, 08:00 PM   #8
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hi again, Bee. I think I can offer you a little bit of comfort here. My days are so busy and active! My lifestyle hasn't changed really, accept I am more suseptable to getting colds and I get tired more now. I also need to lose some weight...and I don't partiicipate in a regular exercise program...I used to, but anymore, I am so busy....I come home in the late afternoon and just think about cleaning my own house; shopping, etc...So I am out of condition; that probably accounts for my tiredness. I only notice my breathing being labored when I am sick...well, the other evening I noticed my breathing wasn't great then, but it passed. It hasn't been anything drastic at all; you'd never know I had Copd, to look at me. The fact that you quit smoking will really be a big help to you, Bee. It is undoubtably the most important thing you can do for yourself. There also has been shown to be a genetic link to developing emphysema..You weren't a heavy smoker, but you probably were exposed to plenty of 2nd hand smoke all your life. I know I was. My dad chained smoked, as did all my brothers. When I was growing up, everyone seemed to smoke. I just hadn't met anyone who had Copd; so I didn't realise (or want to, I suppose) what a danger it was to me. When you see a Pulmonologist, be sure and tell him of this pressure you have in your chest. I'll bet the inhaled steroid Advair will help you. You have to take it for a while before you notice it helping you. It should relieve the pressure in your chest. If you have an asthmatic component to your Copd, that can be treated more effectively than just having emphysema. I have little asthma, so inhalers don't work as well for me. Be sure and ask your Pulmonary doctor if after the testing, if you have much of an asthmatic component to your Copd. If you do, this is great news. Some asthma can be treated and you could get better. Emphysema doesn't ever get better...all you can do is slow downt the progression...sometimes you can go years before it gets worse. So, ask if any part of it is asthma...this is important...I wrote to a lady that was diagnosed with Copd; she had a high asthmatic component to her Copd; and with medications she was basically back in the normal range,w ith her breathing. If you have little asthma, don't worry: you can still help yourself. Stay active as possible. become a health nut...and you'll find you stay fine for many years...and by then maybe there'll be a better treatment for Copd. Also, if your doctor says you don't need medications for it at this time, don't worry about it. There's a drug out there called Spiriva, that is supposed to help people with moderate and more advanced Copd...but my Pulmonary doctor says I shouldn't be on it yet...to wait tillI need it. Also, if your doctor says you need to take a certain medication, do it. They know what they are talking about. Medications can keep us stable as well. And when/if you start feeling really sick...or stay sick for longer than normal, be sure and get to a doctor. You have to be really proactive about viruses...as they can scar our lungs more. I am sorry to hear about your mother. It's toobad we both lost a parent to lung cancer. My dad actually did okay witht he emphysema; but the lung cancer killed him within 6 months. He had developed pnemonia that surrounded his lung cancer; so his doctor wasn't able to really try and help him. Lung cancer really sucks, doesn't it? I know Copd can be awful, also. But what can you do? I just want to be happy and live my life...not worry about all the bad stuff that might be in the future. Anyway, take care of yourself. Debbie

 
Old 07-16-2007, 11:01 PM   #9
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hey Debbie:

Thanks for all the information and insight. All of this really helps and at this point, I need all the help I can get. It's funny you mentioned your dr. advising not to use Spiriva yet until you really need it because I was going to ask mine if I could get it. I'm kind of leary of steroid based inhalers because of the side effects, and since this one isn't, I thought it would help relieve my chest pain symptoms. Anyway, I'm on the internet everyday doing research and trying to find out as much as I can because I'm not depending on my doctors for everything. I'm like you where I grew up in the era where smoking was accepted everywhere and women were doing it while they were pregnant and you could smoke everywhere so I'm sure I had plenty of secondhand smoke to add to my own smoking. Gosh, I can remember walking through the grocery store smoking a cigarette and even visiting someone in the hospital smoking a cigarette! Is that crazy or what?! We even had smoking areas in high school! Times have definitely changed and thank goodness for that. I wish I'd never picked up the first one but I'm just so glad I'm not smoking anymore. I have absolutely no desire for a cigarette at all and never thought I'd feel that way.

I will definitely check further into the asthma related part of my condition just to rule this out. They were supposed to do that during my PFT's, but for some reason, we didn't and I'll be asking my dr. about that this Thursday. I'm like you and don't want to dwell on what might happen in the future. I just want to take each day and feel blessed that I have another day to enjoy my life and feel good about the present. Do you like your pulmo dr.? Anyway, take care and thanks for posting. I'm enjoying the "conversations."

 
Old 07-17-2007, 08:09 PM   #10
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Good evening, Bee. When you see the Pumonary doctor, he probably won't prescribe Spiriva for you, unless he feels you need it now. Most people start off with Advair; and as their shortness of breath increases, there are fast acting inhalers that help, like Combivent. I only need Combivent when I have a chest cold, and it is affecting my breathing. If your Copd is mild, the medication you would need is minimal...but it seems Advair would help your particual symptoms. Don't fear inhaled steroids...when you need them, you have got to take them. It's like managing any disease: my husband is diabetic, and he has got to take certain medications to keep him stable. Inhaled steroids will not shorten your life: and unless you find you have an allergic reaction to them, if your doctor says you need to take something, then do it. I have heard that some people refuse to take medicines prescribed to them; maybe it's denial thing, I don't know. But sometimes this can actually work against the person: as a component of Copd is inflamation; and the inhaled steroids help with that. Medicines CAN help us...I have been using Advair for a long time now; and my only bad reaction to it has been thrush. Thrush is a yeast type infection you get in your mouth/throat. You can beat this by brushing your teeth well after taking it. I first rinse my mouth well; then brush my teeth real good. If these things don't help, you can always take a one dose yeast medication pill; Diflucan to get rid of it. My regular doctor increased my Advair from 100 over 50 to 250 over 50. But then I started having problems with thrush, so I cut the dose back to once a day; in themornings. But when I start getting out of breath on a daily basis, I'll increase the dose. I now brush my teeth real good after taking the Advair, and I've been fine ever since. I don't believe in taking medicines you don't need; but if you need them, you have got to take them. I know how hard all this is to digest; but its not so bad; at least in the early stages! I can't speak for how I'll feel when I get much worse...I guess we've got to just take it one day at a time..Goodnight, Bee...got to turn in. Debbie

 
Old 07-18-2007, 09:46 PM   #11
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Re: Burning sensation in center of chest . . . does anyone else have this?

Hi Debbie:

Good to hear from you and thanks for the input/advice regarding the meds. I'm anxious to see what happens at the doctor tomorrow and will keep you posted. I am feeling better than I was. Take care and I'll post again soon.

Bee

 
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