The British Lung Foundation carried out a survey of 403 current or ex-smokers which found that 73% of smokers and ex-smokers had not had a lung function test despite 21% of this group experiencing symptoms of chronic lung disease in the last year.
COPD symptoms experienced included persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezy chest, recurrent chest infections, excess phlegm and chest pain.
A total of 19% said they felt breathless walking up a slight hill and 8% said they had to stop to take a breath to keep up with friends walking on the flat.
Nine respondents reported that they were so breathless that they were unable to leave their house, yet had not even considered having a lung function test.
GP Dr Carol Cooper said: ‘I think it is really worrying that many smokers or ex-smokers are experiencing early symptoms of COPD such as persistent cough or breathlessness, yet haven't seen their GP for a lung function test. The smoker's cough that so many smokers put up with is a sign of ill health. They should get themselves checked as soon as possible as the sooner they are diagnosed and treated the better.'