I am a 32-year-old male and have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I have always considered myself relatively healthy. About 10 years ago, I saw my doctor for what I thought were allergy problems that my doctors proscribed Flonase and Clariten D for. It got better, and I eventually stopped taking any meds.
The past three years I have been experiencing shortness of breath, particularly when I climb stairs or exercise. Even at rest, I find it hard to breathe these days. My general doctor two years ago again thought it was allergies. However, in the fall I saw an ENT doctor who gave me a spirometer exam. He also found that I am allergic to dust mites. Last Tuesday, he gave me a second spirometer exam because he said the first results were very poor. This time he said the results were slightly better, but they still show me as having the lung capacity of a 72-year-old! He said it does not look like the problem is in the upper respiratory tract as previously thought. He asked me if I have any history in my family of emphysema, which I don't. He did not make a diagnosis, but instead referred me to a pulmonologist. I will see the pulmonologist on Friday.
This has all come as a great shock. I am scared to death now that I have a lung disease. I am a professional singer and am afraid that this will shorten or end my career. Some of my friends and family say I look fine and that this is nothing to worry about. How concerned should I be?
The most common cause for what you have described is asthma. The pulmonologist will undoubtedly perform a good examination and some further lung tests. He may or may not need any type of x-rays. These will help to make the diagnosis and help to establish the appropriate therapy. Asthma is very treatable and people of all professions can perform well on medications, if needed. You will know more in a little while.
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