Emphysema

Question:

What were the symptoms of your emphysema? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Cath, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: June 05

I was diagnosed last year with emphysema but on no medication for it. I am constantly tired and could sleep all day. Energy is at an all-time low the last two months.

Comment from: Joan-Ann, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: May 15

For 3 or 4 years I wheezed so badly I thought it was someone else. I would have chest pains for a few days then would cough up a lot of muck and would be fine for a few days before I would start the round again. I had smoked for twenty years but gave it up nearly 30 years ago. I was having frequent chest infections and my breathing was very poor. Last year I had fluid on my lung which prompted my doctor to send me to a diagnostic hospital. I was then sent to a lung specialist and was told I had emphysema. I seem different to most. The cold doesn't affect me but when the temperature is in the 70s my lungs just close up; also in warm airless places. I have been disabled for 9 years and can't exercise, any house work, even making my bed leaves me breathless. My husband and I did mountain climbing until our late 60s. I led a very active lifestyle.

Comment from: CHUCK A, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 17

After many months of testing for shortness of breath, I was diagnosed with asthma in 2009. It was shocking because I had never had lung issues ever before. Three or four months ago after our hurricane in Florida, we were left with considerable damage with a lot of mold damage. It was of course removed promptly by a professional company, and with my help. It seems since then my ability to function in life doing anything has diminished. I can hardly get out of bed without having to hold on to something. A doctor visit, having a pulmonary function test and a CT scan of my lungs show I have severe emphysema. I feel like my world has been pulled out from underneath me. My pulmonary doctor told me I only have 38 percent of my lung usage and that I should stop working immediately and file for social security disability. I feel my doctor did not tell me what to expect. Or what stage of the disease I was in. I feel I was given a too sick to work diagnosis but nothing else. If anyone could please give some insight as to what I should ask my doctor I would greatly appreciate it. I have quit my job. I was a merchant marine officer. I am at a loss as though I am not working my bills continue to come in. My wife of 22 years is disabled. So her disability income is all we have. I am more worried about how losing my insurance from my previous employment will be handled.

Comment from: Rick, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 13

I started with shortness of breath and found out I had mild emphysema which scared me bad. My doctor put me on oxygen at night and I do my nebulizers usually once or twice a day. It seems to be worse in the mornings and then I'm ok throughout the day but I'm still really scared. I know that emphysema is a progressive disease and it's different with everybody. I just hope I have more time than I think.

Comment from: George , 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 22

My general physician thinks I might have emphysema because I have had 4 chest infections since January. I told him I walk everywhere, I do not struggle with breathing nor am not short of breath.

Comment from: TAW, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 02

I was diagnosis with emphysema. I came down with bronchitis/ walking pneumonia in September and did not get over it until mid-November. I was not able to breathe the same. Now I have emphysema. Yes, I have smoked for twenty years. I was deployed to Iraq, between the sand storms and the burn pits, and the doctors do not want to hear about it.

Comment from: psmaxster, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 29

About a year ago I started coughing and coughed up a lot of mucus. I went through a series of tests, including PFT (pulmonary function test), 6-minute walk, CT scan, and x-rays of chest. Pulmonologist also did biopsy of sections of my lungs. It was negative for cancer. I was also receiving iron infusion because of my low energy. Iron levels are now up to normal. I have started exercising at least 20 minutes per day, trying for 30. My pulmonologist is very terse. It was only during my last consultation that he mentioned in passing that I had emphysema. I have since informed myself of the condition, and have concluded I might die an early death. I am 74, but not suffering from dementia and have no illnesses for the past 8 years. I have had flu shot and pneumonia shot. I cannot bear the thought that I might die in 5 years. My wife will suffer terribly without my being around.

Comment from: ellen, Female (Patient) Published: January 19

I have severe emphysema with 16 to 21% lung usage. I am on oxygen 24/7, I work full time. I am scared to death about dying. I am afraid of a lung transplant. I want to live. Lung reduction might help me. When I get a cold or the flu, like I did last week, my breathing is so bad, I get exhausted and scared. I smoked from 1959 to 1997. Of course I quit as soon as I was told what I was getting. Too late for me. I smoked 1-2 packs a day for all those years. My luck!! I got emphysema/C.O.P.D. Some people never get anything. I am single. No man would want a woman on oxygen. I am still considered young. I do not look my age at all, but, here I am slowly dying from cigarettes that I gave up over 13 years ago. I am scared ,scared, scared. I want to live. I also use spiriva, advair, nebulizer, oxygen fulltime and many other medications. I will pray for all of you and please pray for me. I want to live.

Comment from: Clare B., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 17

Since I have been diagnosed with emphysema I have walked for approximately 6 months every day amounting to 4 kilometers a day. It really has done wonders to my health. Please people, try this no expense treatment, it works. Don't give up, you will eventually feel the effects after a few months. Walk as briskly as possible.

Comment from: sharon, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 23

I have just been diagnosed with COPD/emphysema. I have a spontaneous pneumothorax and perforated my lung. I also developed pneumonia and I have not been right since. I'm only 46.

Comment from: Betty, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: May 29

I am an 88 year old female with moderately severe emphysema which I know was from my years of smoking. I started smoking as a teen in high school when smoking was socially acceptable. I remember when smoking was permitted in hospitals. It was not known then how dangerous cigarettes were for us, and it seemed everybody smoked. I quit cold turkey on June 1, 1992, but the damage had been done. I was diagnosed with emphysema just a few years later. I wish anybody who starts smoking at a young age would realize what will eventually happen to their bodies if they continue that vile habit throughout their lives.

Comment from: Joan, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 18

I was a smoker for 30 years. I stopped about 14 years ago due to heart disease. I was told I have mild emphysema.

Comment from: gus, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 28

I was diagnosed with emphysema at the age of 28. I was never a smoker, but I was born prematurely.

Comment from: Nicotine Addict, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 27

I'm 54 years old and female. I was diagnosed a couple of days ago with COPD and I am beyond scared! My lung function test indicated 49% capacity. After having had flu three months ago, the shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains continued even after being treated with antibiotics. I've been smoking two packs a day for 36 years. Being born without a sternum caused my ribs to be curled in just one inch away from my spine, resulting in underdeveloped lungs. At age 34 I had surgery and it was fixed. Unfortunately my smoking just caused more damage to my already under developed lungs. The problem I'm having is that I enjoy smoking and don't want to give up! Have tried twice before and nearly went crazy and don't want to go through that again. I saw the fear in my husband and children's eyes when I told them about my condition. The best I could do was to lie and tell them that the doctor said it is not that bad and that medication will assist with my breathing. The reality is that I need to quit smoking. I know that, but more than that, I need help with it.

Comment from: Sandi, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 21

I was 37 years old when a CT scan showed I had mild emphysema. I smoked two packs a day for most of 23 yrs. I am now 40 years old. Recently I started feeling more breathless, so I went to the doctor. My oxygen level was 89%. For the first time he ordered oxygen. I'm supposed to use it continuously. I used it most of the first two days and now am feeling worse than before for some reason. I am having a lot of chest pain and pressure.

Comment from: Mark, Male (Patient) Published: October 04

I have never smoked in my life. I have emphysema very badly and I'm scared.

Comment from: KodakPuppy, 65-74 Female Published: June 14

I experienced shortness of breath and a persistent cough over several months. I have never been a smoker, however. I am in the beginning stages whatever that means.

Comment from: Princess118, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: June 06

My father was diagnosed in 2007 but kept it to himself and I think because he didn't want us to harass him to quit smoking. He loved smoking and he told me once that he wasn't quitting for anyone. He was right: The cigarettes finally quit him at age 66. It got so bad at the end that he was just constantly gasping for air and had to sit up to try to sleep at night and literally had no energy at all. He was very lethargic all the time. He lost his appetite and a lot of weight, and in the end, he has an enlarged heart.

Comment from: jim, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 09

I am almost 65. I quit smoking five years ago. I smoked for 44 years. Two packs a day on average. I quit because I had pneumonia and was scared. The doctor told me 5-8 years with the emphysema COPD I have. The nurse told me the best thing I could do was exercise and firm my muscles up and lose weight. She told me that firm muscles use less oxygen. So I got rid of the 24-7 oxygen and inhalers. I lost 70ibs as well. You don't have to sit around and wait for death go do it! Exercise. I went to a gym with my oxygen tank on for 18 months before I got rid of it. At first I was embarrassed but I said the heck with it. I started slow with full cardiac and weight lifting, and the more I exercised the better I felt.

Comment from: Waitress55, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 21

I have never smoked in my life and have just been diagnosed with emphysema. I did work in bars and restaurants when smoking was allowed since I was 18. I am now 50. My mom smoked and my husband smokes but no longer in the house. I have so many questions. I'm being set up with a pulmonary doctor by my primary doctor.

Comment from: carol, 65-74 Male (Caregiver) Published: March 21

my husband gave up smoking 20 years ago. He has had a lot of chest infections this winter and now has oxygen at home. He is very tired all the time and has deteriorated a lot. Unfortunately he also has chronic kidney failure, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. He is very down and very negative and I worry a lot. He is only 68.

Comment from: yayalove, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 17

I am very new to quitting smoking it's only been a week for me, however what's funny is that I am now having shortness of breath I plan to never pick up a cigarette again I don't know if it's a mind thing or what but I am very short of breath even when I am sleeping wow! Maybe I waited too late.

Patient Comments & Reviews

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

eMedicine.com. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/807143-overview>

eMedicine.com. Emphysema.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/298283-overview>

Previous contributing authors and editors: Author: Christopher J Ware, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine.

Coauthor(s): Joseph S Bushra, MD, FAAEM, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine Philadelphia, PA, Attending Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, The Lankenau Hospital Wynnewood, PA.

Editors: Ruben Olmedo, MD, Chief, Division of Toxicology, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; James S Cohen, MD, Consulting Staff, James Cohen, PC.

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