Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
COPD or Sarcoidosis
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COPD or Sarcoidosis

I recently had a chest xray.  My symptoms were a few coughs in a row several times per hour, tight congestion on chest, foul tasting sputum from my chest when I cough, tiredness, soreness in chest and sometimes in lower right back.  The results of the xray were COPD, emphysema.  I was told by my doctor to stop smoking.  I have never had a cigarette to my lips in my life.  She then said there is nothing I can do about the COPD since I do not smoke.  I have never been around second hand smoke except for the last year or two.  My son stuffs things around his door so the smoke doesn't come through but it still escapes a little.  I use air cleaners downstairs.  He constantly sneaks smokes even though I forbid him to smoke in the house.  My brother died 4 years ago at age 52 of sarcoidosis.  At his death he was on oxygen 24/7 and could hardly breathe.  I am 59, by the way.  Could the results of my xrays be more sarcoidosis and not COPD or emphysema?  Would sarcoid show as COPD?  Please advise about minimal exposure to smoke and also, more importantly, the issue of sarcoidosis.
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The chest x-ray findings of emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) would not be confused with those of sarcoidosis, although varying degrees of fibrosis are evident in the chest x-rays of people in the end stages of either disease.

Any amount of cigarette, or any other, smoke can cause significant harm to those with advanced COPD.

If your doctor truly said, "there is nothing I can do about the COPD since I do not smoke", you should consult with another doctor, preferably a lung specialist.

There are a number of good, effective, long-acting inhaled medicines capable of relieving the symptoms of COPD.  You may be a candidate for continuous oxygen.  And, you would almost certainly benefit from participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, at a large nearby hospital or clinic.

Since you have severe COPD at the age of 59, and never smoked, it raises the suspicion that you, and quite possibly your son, might have the inherited form of emphysema called, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.  The diagnosis can be confirmed by a blood test and you should request that that test be done when you see a lung specialist.

Emphysema is not reversible, but it is definitely treatable.
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Thank you for your reply.  I think this site is wonderful and I am so appreciative to have found it.  One thing though.  I do not have severe COPD as you imagined.  The xray showed early signs of COPD.  Also what my doctor said was people who do not smoke cannot do anything about having early signs of COPD.  Would your suggestions differ under the circumstances?  Thanks again.
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