Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Expert Forum
COPD HELP
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This forum is for questions and support regarding COPD, coughing/wheezing, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung infections, pollution, smoking, treatment for COPD and what causes COPD.

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COPD HELP

Hey

I am 21 years old. in june 2008 i went and got a chest x ray becuase i was having  slight  pains every now and then. the results were a very mild case of emphysema. this scares me. i have only been smoking for 4 years and have reached a total of 3/4 of a pack of smokes a day. the doctor said if i stopped by december 2008 i would be doing myself a huge favor in life. it is now march 2009, am i in big trouble if i dont quit soon. please help
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X-rays, especially chest x-rays are subject to individual radiologist’s interpretation and what one calls “mild emphysema”, another might call normal.  You should ask your own doctor to ask of the radiologist, the degree of certainty with which the diagnosis was made.  You should also arrange to have complete pulmonary function tests (PFTs) with determination of lung volumes and a diffusion test.  If suspicion of emphysema persists, you should have a high resolution CT (HRCT) scan of your lungs.  That should be definitive.

Note:  The diagnosis of “mild emphysema” of the lungs is often made on the basis of hyperinflation and/or increased radiolucency of the lung(s), both of which can be seen with sub-optimally controlled asthma.  Note, also that there is a congenital, inherited condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency that runs in families and predisposes one to the development of emphysema at an early age.  That diagnosis can be confirmed by a blood test and that test should definitely be performed if any of the previous tests suggest the diagnosis of emphysema.

If your doctors remain uncertain of your diagnosis after completion of the above recommended tests, you should request consultation with a lung specialist, also know as a pulmonologist.

You should do everything within your power, and with the assistance of your doctor, to successfully engage in smoking cessation efforts.

Good luck.
2 Comments
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I'm not a doctor but am in the same position as you are.  Tuesday I was told I have emphysema (soon to be determinded because on my xray the impression said possible COPD) and made an appointment with a pulmonologist.  I was also having chest pains for which I went to the doctor for then he ordered a chest x-ray.  He did say the chest pains and emphysema weren't related but could possibly be from stress.
There are prescriptions to help stop smoking.  I'm also having a hard time quitting but went from smoking over a pack a day to 5 cigarettes till I quit completely and this has been since last Tuesday.  

Good luck to you
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