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Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. Discuss topics including causes, symptoms and treatment options.

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emphysema

Is it possible for someone who is only 38 years old to have emphysema, or symptoms of emphysema?  I do smoke (only 1 pack a day-for around 20+ years) but lately have noticed maybe a little shortness of breath (or more than a little) while going up stairs, walking fast, etc.  Also, more coughing, congestion, etc. especially in the morning.  My mother, once a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with emphysema when she was in her late 40's. Any information would be appreciated.  Thank you.
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Avatar_n_tn
have you went to the doctor, Do you have bronchitis? Or possibly asthma... I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day too, and have a mother that just died from emphysema..I have had symptoms you have described and it was just bronchitis.. Don't worry see your doc..
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Avatar_n_tn
Only a pack a day?!?!?!?  Look that's alot of cigarettes and you do have a family history.  Don't listen to Colleen up there.  You DO need to worry.  This is a serious problem that requires serious attention from you and your physician.  If you don't quit smoking you are going to have more and more problem because of it.  Think about this seriously.  What do you have to loose from quitting smoking?  NOTHING!  What do you have to loose from not quitting?  YOUR LIFE!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
My mother is 41 next week and 3 years ago was diagnosed with emphoysema, so it is possible to have it. I feel you should visit your doctor and not take any chances. If you feel only 1 pack of cigerettes is not that big of a deal than maybe you should put them down, perminatly, just a thought. I watch my mother every day, she has not quit smoking. She is know on 2 different inhailers, and has a hard time walking up the driveway into the house. If she gets a cold you can see her lips turn blue from the lack of oxygen that is getting into her lungs. I don't want to scare you, but if you can quit them do it now.

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Avatar_n_tn
I have been a Respiratory Therapist for over 20+ years, and yes you can have emphysema at 38.  Have your doctor send you (as an out-patient) to a hospital or similar facility that can perform a complete Pulmonary Function Test on you.  It is simply a breathing test that takes about 30-40 minutes and doesn't hurt.  You perform different breathing patterns and breath into a mouthpiece.  Your results will show how much damage has occured due to the smoking.  The test will likely show some obstruction.  Obstruction is simply the inability to exhale all the air out of your lungs.  This is what happens with smokers/emphysema.  It is a concept that's hard for some to grasp - people have the sensation that they "can't get the breath into their lungs".  You can get the breath in - but the small airways and alveoli of your lungs collapse on exhalation and "trap" air in your lungs.  Have the Respiratory Therapist who does this test teach you a breathing excercise called "Pursed Lip Breathing".  This will help to control some of your shortness of breath.

The hardest thing to do is to stop smoking, but you must stop.  If I knew the best way for you to do this I'd tell you.  Some of my patients stop cold turkey, others use the patch, etc.  Everyone is different - find what's best for you.  You will never regain the lung function that you've already lost.  Lung tissue does not regenerate. If you stop smoking NOW your lungs will not get worse.  

If you continue to smoke I can tell you the years ahead will just get worse.  Smokers usually develop cardiac problems as they age.  Some become dependent on oxygen and must wear it 24 hours a day.  

Stop now while you are still young.  Good luck to you!
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 32 year old that started having "shortness of breath" about 5 years ago. After seeing about 3 different pulmonologist I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Alpha 1 Antitrypson defiency which causes early onset emphysema. I have emphysema now and will probably need a lung transplant before its over. If you have noticed that this disease (empysema) seems to run in your family ask to have a blood test run to check your ATT level.
Feel free to email me for further info.
***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Kathy- Hopefully by now you have taken the advice of those who have answered before me.  If you haven't, it is a must that you do so now.  A breathing test (as resp. ther. described) is the best place to start. However, at 38 despite your smoking history you should also take heed of Stephanie's comment.  Like you I was a smoker( yeah I know, a resp. therapist who smoked! Behold the power of nicotine addiction) I was also becoming progressively more short of breath.  Several pulmonologists later a breathing test finally led to my diagnosis.  Like Stephanie I too have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.  This is easily detected by a simple blood test. Although very few have been diagnosed with it, it is estimated that a great many more have the deficiency but it doesn't get diagnosed. It is imperative to get diagnosed as soon as possible. Immediate smoking cessation for those who test positive is a MUST. I urge any one who is young and experiencing shortness of breath or anyone with asthma or bronchitis that the doctors can't seem to control ask their doctor to do this test.  Good Luck!!
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Avatar_m_tn
Look, it's like this.  You smoke. Therefore you could get ANY smoking-relating dicease out there at ANY AGE. I am only 40 and was just diagnosed with early stage emphysema. I have smoked for 22 years so, hey, no surprise there! My advice? Go to your doctor and speak to him/her about your concerns. He/she can order the pulmonary function test necessary to find out how much damage has already been done!  Oh, and hey - quit smoking! I promise you that you don't want to know how it feels to look your family in the eye and say "I have emphysema and it's my own damn fault because I smoked for twenty years!" It is devastating, I can tell you. My doctor has told me that the damage to my lungs cannot be repaired but if I quit smoking and take care of myself it probably will not progress. I intend to take that advice because I want to be around to see my grandchildren. Find your reason to live and do the same girll!
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3249280_tn?1347006958
i was diagnosed on my 36 birthday with emphysema and i only smoked half a pack a day if that i have almost the function of one whole lung with the two combined i have had part of one removed and probably soon will be doing the other please stop smoking if you haven't already and get some help you will feel better and the earlier you do this the better off you are
take care
heather
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