Hi, I have just received a diagnosis of COPD with a lung function test of 60%. I am a smoker but I am only 34 years old. I am trying to quit. I have other chronic conditions such as back and neck pain, basal cell carcinoma, and mental illness. My question stems from when I had sepsis 2 years ago, I almost died from the infection. Is it possible for sepsis to cause lung damage? I also have just recently had bronchitus again and that took about five weeks to get over. I can barely go around the block without being out of breath. I am on combivent and flovent, 4 times and 2 times per day respectively. I also have an emergency inhaler. I don't want to believe that I have this disease, I feel it may have been caused by something else. Any suggestions?
Yes, it is possible to develop permanent lung damage after a bout of Sepsis, especially sepsis that was accompanied by a condition called the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome or ARDS. There is an extensive medical literature on the sequelae of ARDS, not necessarily limited to the lungs. The following, that you may want to recommend toyour doctor is a good summary of the long term complications of ARDS:
Recovery and Long-Term Outcome in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Critical Care Clinics - Volume 27, Issue 3 (July 2011)
Given that, it is important to keep in mind that your abnormal lung function test may or may not be related to the episode of Sepsis. For example there is a condition called Alpha-one antitrypsin Deficiency that can lead to early onset COPD, especially in those who smoke cigarettes.
At this point the most important thing is that the diagnosis of your lung condition be accurately established. That is, is the condition primarily due to Obstruction to air flow (COPD or Asthma the prime examples) or to Restrictive lung disease, an example of which would be pulmonary fibrosis. The optimum therapy for these two conditions (obstructive or restrictive lung disease) could be very different.
I suggest that you would be well served by seeking consultation with one of the lung doctors who provided your care during the episode of sepsis. He/she would be in an excellent position to evaluate your current condition in the context of the sepsis experienced two years ago.
I hope that whatever is going-on with your lungs is readily diagnosable and reversible.
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