I am a 22 year old ex smoker for about a year. ( I used to smoke about 5 a day.) I quit around march this year and haven't smoked since. One reason that I quit was that I was getting recurring coughing and tightness in my lungs. However the main reason I quit was after a rather heavy session of drinking and smoking, the next morning I coughed up a considerable amount of bloody phlegm. I went to the Doctor that day and told her the situation. she did a few tests and told me I was fine and it was probably from trauma. Anyway to cut a long story short between now and last march I have coughed up streaks of blood in my phlegm several times, been to the doctors several times, had a chest x-ray (about six months ago) which I had "mild bronchitic changes in the base of my lungs." The main reason I am writing this is that I don't believe I have had a satifactory explanation as to is actually going on with my lungs.
My symptoms include:
Mild tightness in what feels like my lungs. (this occurs frequently, usually at night)
Phlegm / Mucus (infrequently streaked ever so slightly with blood. However this has been persistant.)
Wheezing (This is very rare. Unless exhaling forcefully and till completely exhaled. Is that normal?)
Persistant feeling of shortness of breath. (The last time I went to the doctors a few months ago she told me my lung capacity was normal for my age.)
Also my nails (or at least some of my nails seem to be turning white at the end and feel slightly soft. However I am not sure if that is just my nail lunula and a normal nailbed or the beginning of clubbing. I believe my nail's Schamroth's sign is fine.
So to summarize my questions.
Could all this be explained by bronchitis? or more specifically chronic bronchitis?
If this is bronchitis will I have these symptoms for the rest of my life?
Does this sound like any other lung disease? e.g lung cancer, COPD, etc.
Should I go back to the doctors? and most importantly should I be worried?
What you are experiencing could well be on the basis of chronic bronchitis, and probably is, but there are many other causes of bloody phlegm, including disease of the lungs and the upper respiratory tract (nose, sinuses, throat). To be on the safe side, it would be wise to get a repeat Chest X-ray, since it has been 6 months since the last one changes in one’s lungs can change significantly over that period of time. Even if the repeat X-ray is clear or just shows “bronchitic changes” you might want to request a second opinion from a lung specialist (pulmonologist) to be on the safe side and to relieve your anxiety.
The persistent shortness of breath could be on the basis of chronic bronchitis and/or asthma but it would be wise to make that determination as it might well be a treatable condition.
At age 22 and with your body’s response to cigarette smoke, with smoking cessation your symptoms should gradually subside but it would be best for you to not wait for that occur before getting a second opinion.
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