23 Years Old with Mild Emphysema

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Hi All,

I am 23, a non-smoker and consider myself fit and healthy. I had a nasty cough for 8-10 weeks and have been susceptible to colds, feeling run down for stretches of time etc for about 6 months.

Hoping to get some reassurance or perhaps just a bit more information as I have recently had results from an xray which stated mild emphysema, prominent hilar regions compatible with COPD. My GP who gave me the results said he thought there must be a mistake and not to worry about it and muttered something about too much air in my lungs when having the xray. I called the radiologist who said he was an expert, you're supposed to have too much air in your lungs/they tell you to breathe in for the xray and that he was looking at my xray and the report he produced was correct. I feel like I've been passed from pillar to post with little to no reassurance or information - I wouldn't discount the possibility that my results have been mixed up with someone else's. Do you think this could be an error/who would you ask to be referred to for more testing? I had a spirometry test when I initially went to the GP who just said it was fine - SO CONFUSED. Has anyone else had a similar experience, confusion, been diagnosed and felt it can't be right? Maybe I am just in denial.

Thank you if you've made it to the end of this tangent! smile

Sorry for my rambling.

0 likes, 6 replies


6 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Ryan as you are so young you should ask for a blood test to eliminate alpha1 antitrypsin deficiency, also request a vitamin D test to be sure you are not deficient in vitamin D.  If you are vitamin D deficient you will need to supplement with vitamin D3.

    If you are doing good on the spirometry test it may be that you have very mild COPD however, you still need at the very least the ventolin inhaler, this will widen the bronchial airways and may result in your not coughing (I generally cough more when the airways have narrowed for whatever reason).  Also when you get a cold you should go straight away to your doctor or the respiratory nurse at your doctors surgery and ask them to check your lungs to be sure you do not have a lung infection, which if it is the case you will need Anti biotics at least. 

      (If you ever cough up discoloured sputum this indicates you have an infection, ask the doc receptionist if you can have a sputum pot so that can be tested for infection and the correct antibiotic prescribed).

    If your symptoms continue, ask for a referral to a specialist, but to get further advice do contact the British Lung Foundation helpline,  contact details here:


    BLF will be able to advise you on Alpha1 also and there are links from the BLF website to the Alpha1 organisation if you want to contact their helpline as well.

    Here is information on Alpha1:


    Good Luck Ryan, you need some advice from the BLF about what to discuss with your GP.

    Best wishes V

  • Posted

    I think it is importnat that you have the test for Alpha-1-Anti-tripsin Deficiency.  It is a simple blood test.  I am amazed that your GP did not automatically request it. A non-smoker of 23 is very unlikely to have 'ordinary' emphysema.  If A-1-A-T-D is eliminated then there are other possobilities.  The conditon that I have, Obliterative Bronchioltis can look like Emphysema. In fact very early on in my case a consultant diagnosed emphysema. Push for more investigations.  Can you do to another GP? 

    I obviously do not want to worry you, but you are worried already and not knowing what is wrong is a nightmare. 

    All the best and let us know how things go.


  • Posted

    Morning  Ryan im  by no means  any  expert  on this,  as  im  a  newbie  to  copd.   I feel  so  sorry for  you.    You  really  do need  some  more   answers,  and  need to  talk  in depth  with someone   who  knows  what  they  are  talking   about.   Now  im  hoping   someone  on this  site  will come  along  and  give  you some  good  info.   

    Im  thinking  if  it  was me  in  your  position,  go see the  GP  again  and  basically  say,      I  am  not  happy  with  the  results  ive  had,  im not  happy  with  the  explanations  ive  been  given.    I  would  like  to  be  referred  to someone  else for  a  2nd  opinion.  And  to  discuss  this  matter fully  with them.   sorry  i  cant  be more  helpful.  but  as i  say  they may  be someone  very  knowledgeable  on here.     love  and   best  wishes    julie    xxxxxxxxx

  • Posted

    Please try not worry I am 47 was told this also. Went for second opinion I did not have COPD but did however have emphysema like. Scaring of lung more than likely from pneumonia six years ago and from that scan till now it has not changed. So maybe you just have small lung scaring try not worry till you get another opinion They need to do a sprimotary test on you. That is the only true way to tell. Good luck and God Bless

  • Posted

    Ryan it has just occured to me as well as what I have mentioned above, your occupation, could you have been exposed to substances that can irritate your lungs?

    As in building trade, asbestos, cement dust, brick dust, rate droppigs renovating old houses etc.

    Bakers, flour dust

    Printer, printers ink

    Ceramicists, potters, sculpters, fine clay and minerals / metals for glazes and paint pigment.

    workingin a pet store, pet dander, birds avery/

    others irritants to consider.  You need to find out what is the cause of your symptoms.



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