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I quit smoking about 5 months ago, after 17 years of smoking; smoked quite heavily (around 2-3 packs/day) for the last 6-7 years. After I quit smoking I started experiencing shortness of breath, and while researching the topic on the internet, I got the impression that there may be two separate things that I have to keep in mind. (1) COPD and (2) temporary shortness of breath that may not necessarily be COPD. How can I know which one I have? If I have COPD, I would imagine that I need some medical supervision; if it is a temporary shortness of breath, I just need to grin and bear it. Please help.

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First, congrats on the success! Now, after all those years and packs of cigarettes, either of the options you mention - COPD or temporary shortness of breath, still need medical evaluation to determine for sure what is going on with your lungs and which steps you need to take. COPD is combination of bronchitis and emphysema, that means that symptoms are more than just shortness of breath because chronic bronchitis means also chronic production of sputum. But, having in mind the length of your "smoking career", it would not be strange at all that troubles with breathing last this long. Still, a simple test of your pulmonary function will tell you where exactly are you now.
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