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Husband diagnosed with emphysema
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Husband diagnosed with emphysema

My husband is 42 yrs. old and has been diagnosed with early stage emphysema. He is scheduled for lung function tests in 2 wks. He smoked cigarettes in his 20's to 30's, then quit for almost 13 yrs, recently smoked again for the past 2 yrs. He has since quit. My question is, if this is early on, and he has quit smoking, and gets back into cardio shape, can this be something he can live with for a long time without requiring being on oxygen etc..? I'm just not sure what kind of future to expect with him when he is in his 70's? He is determined to get back into good cardio shape, he is in great physical shape. He will see a cardiologist as well. Thank you, Ilsa
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The results of the pulmonary function tests will be most informative.  If these tests show that your husband has sustained minimal or no damage to his lungs from cigarette smoking, he should expect to have good lung function for the rest of his life, into his 70's and beyond, provided he does not resume smoking, ever.

We all slowly lose lung function, with aging.  If he does not smoke from this point on, his rate of loss of lung function will soon be the same as the rate of individuals who have never smoked.  That is, he will experience loss of lung function only because of aging and not because of his prior smoking.
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Hello - How was he diagnosed, with a chest x-ray?  (Even Christy Turlington, who smoked very heavy for many years, was diagnosed with early stage emphysema by a chest x-ray, and she's only in her 30's, if that).  Here are some facts I've found online that might make you and your husband feel better..........

"The early symptoms of emphysema include feeling breathless with activity.  Sometimes, a chronic cough with sputum develops.  Emphysema can also be detected by the appearance of the lungs on chest X-ray. Many people can have emphysema on an X-ray and not have or ever develop any symptoms.
More often than not, a chest X-ray is normal even in advanced stages of emphysema.
Although emphysema is a serious, chronic disease, there is a bright side. This disease is not reversible, but in most cases it is completely preventable.  If you stop smoking, you may prevent the disease, if you haven't already got it, or stop its progression.  If you have emphysema, you can take a number of steps to halt its progression."

I believe taking excellent care of yourself, as your husband is doing, eating right, taking vitamins, etc., can do wonders.
Please let us know how his breathing test turns out.  You both take care.........  
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry to hear about your husband's condition, however...cctalks gave you some good info. While emphysema is not a curable disease, it is preventable. Since your husband was already diagnosed, it is a wise decision for him to quit smoking...FOR GOOD! This is a disease that is manageable with the right lifestyle and proper care. It is hard to say what will happen down the road, if he will need oxygen or not or what other treatments may be necessary. Just be sure to believe in the advice of your doctors and live a healthy, smoke-free life. Smoking will only make things worse. Take care and good luck.
                                      
                                               J.C.I. RRT RCP
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Friend,
Something that should be considered and can easily be tested for when folks in their 40s or younger have emphysema is Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (a genetic form of emphysema).  Testing for it would involve a simple blood test--you would get the level of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin in a day or two.  You could also have a blood sample sent for a blood phenotype to a specialized lab like Mayo Clinic and get the result in a few weeks to see if he has the blood phenotype for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency emphysema.  The reason it's important to determine if he has this type of emphysema is that the treatment is slightly different for it.
There is a LOT of support available for folks with emphysema and those who love them.  One great source of information is MedFacts and Understanding booklets at www.NationalJewish.org.  The American Lung Association can have their local chapter send you free information as well.
I was diagnosed with emphysema as well as moderate to severe Chronic Obstructive Disease, significant asthma and allergies, as well as silent gastric reflux, all at 43 and am under a great treatment program, which has helped me i-m-p-r-o-v-e my lung function.
It's really important for you and your husband to work closely with his doctor(s).
Aloha,
Starion
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Thank you so much for your comments, they made me feel much better.  He was diagnosed with a chest xray, by a Pulmonologist. He had the alpha-1 antitrypsin blood test, he was within normal limits. To - Starion, what type of treatment program are you on, we will talk to our Pulmonologist about it, is it specific to emphysema patients?? Thanks. Ilsa
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Dear Friends,
As you will undoubtably find in your research and discussion with your doc(s), emphysema involves the destruction of air sacs (aveoli).  There is no known way to reverse this, so we have to try to maximize our lungs by improving everything we can.  For me, that meant a complete evaluation at National Jewish for six business days in 11/2000.  It included allergy skin testing (which revealed significant allergies), a pH-probe which revealed "silent" gastric reflux.  It also included a "mini-pulmonary rehabilitation program," where I was evaluated by a respiratory phyiscal therapist who helped me design an exercise program with exertion appropriate to my age and condition.  Prior to that, NONE of the three doctors would offer any advice about what an appropriate level of exertion was and whether I needed any supplemental oxygen (I don't).
Additionally, it was determined that I have a low-grade infection, which fortunately responds to antibiotics, so I was put on daily antibiotics for several months.  I also learned a great deal at National Jewish, by talking with my wonderful doctor and all the great staff there, as well as attending the free educational seminars for patients & their families and watching the informative videos with my husband who accompanied me.
Best of all, my National Jewish pulmonologist has helped me develop and modify my treatment plan so it maximizes my lungs and my health.  It includes daily meditation, frequent yoga classes & exercise, medication for my asthma and emphysema, medication for my gastric reflux, allergy medication, and allergy shots, as well as a course of action for prompt treatment of any infections or "flare-ups."
For more information about becoming a patient at National Jewish, you can check out their website at www.NationalJewish.org.  The MedFacts and Understanding series have great information about COPD as well.
Best of luck to you and your husband!
Aloha,
Starion
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