I am a 24 yearold male with pretty severe asthma. I have had asthma since I was an infant. I am hospitalized for it between 1-3 times a year at least for the past 6 years or so. I had very bad asthma as a child it seemed to be getting better in my teen years. I did smoke of and on for 7 years or so may 15 cigarettes a day at the peak of my smoking, but much less than that the first few years. When I am hospitalized I usually have a virus that sets of my asthma like the flu or bronchitis or pneumonia. But this time it wasnt like that. I had the worst asthma attack I have ever had. I thought i was going to die. they put me in the ICU. I missed two weeks of work after that. they put me on prednisone. but once that wore of I was bad again. then they gave me a steroid shot that lasted a month that helped. So my asthma seems to be getting worse over the years I havent been smoking for a year now. Anyway my doctor sent me to a pulminary specialist. I did the breathing test and the nurse thought I didnt understand her directions because the results were so low. The doctor said he thinks i am lacking alpha1 protein and that I have amphysema and COPD as well as asthma.Does this happen for a 24 yearold to have emphysema? They did 2 blood test to find out if i have Alpha1 and to see if I have allergy asthma. I am worried I have a 7month old son and a wife. Is emphysema something I can function with? Keep a job with? I am a meat cutter I work in a meatcooler at 40 degree temperatures. Does this affect emphysema? Should I quit my job? Can I still live a long life? I am very worried that I wont be around for my family and that I wont be able to provide for them.
The news you received recently is worrisome. If you do have the inherited deficit of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency you could have an inherited form of emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the age of 24, especially having smoked cigarettes for some years. The one thing that you should be adamant about is that you never smoke again and seek to engage only in clean air occupations. The 40 degree Fahrenheit temperature of the air could make you wheezy and short of breath but is unlikely to further damage your lungs.
To answer your questions, emphysema is something a man can function with and keep a job. The key thing is not the presence of emphysema, but its severity, a measure of lung damage. And yes, you can live a long life, provide for your family and be around for them.
If the antitrypsin, anti-protease, level comes back low, you should seek medical care with a lung specialist, knowledgeable about this condition; a person who can answer your questions and provide optimum therapy. Were you to consider further consultation, you might want to consider coming to National Jewish Medical and Research Center to see a world expert, Robert Sandhaus, MD but you should be able to receive excellent care at any of a number of university medical centers all over the country.
To learn more please read our alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency or inherited emphysema information by copying and pasting this address
You may also want to visit the websites below for additional information about this condition: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=alpha1antitrypsindeficiency,
Alpha-1 Association at http://www.alpha1.org/ and Alpha-1 Foundation http://www.alphaone.org/
even if you were full blown alpha 1 it is unlikely that you have emphysema at your age.
Sounds like it is asthma that you have but your doctor should be able to answer these questions definitively. If you need more input maybe try asking Dr Tom at www.yourlunghealth.org
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