What distinguish emphysema from COPD?

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I know that emphysema falls under the general COPD classification but what interest me is the specific emphysema symptoms compared to pulmonary obstruction. More precisely, since emphysema effects are permanent there should be no "good" or "bad" days contrary to pulmonary obstruction where ther eare peaks and valleys as far are symptoms are concernend. In other words emphysema symptoms are more of the same from day to day with no real exacerbations, unlike pulmonary obstruction. Anyone on this?

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  • Posted

    In my experience and validated in pulmonary rehab, emphysema symptoms are extremely variable and unpredictable from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour.

    I don't know the medical reasons for this, all I can say is that although my lung function has remained stable for 3 years on spirometry tests, I definitely have good days and bad days.   Usually I can trace the cause:  exposure to any airborne pollution (effects can last up to 3 or 4 days),  lack of exercise for more than one day, colds and flu or even minor sniffles.

    One of the hardest things I learned in rehab is to accept that I do not know from one day to the next what I will be capable of doing physically, to not over commit myself and definitely to not "soldier on" to the point of severe discomfort because that takes longer to recover from.

    Where did you get this "should" idea from about emphysema?  It bears no relation whatsoever to my experience over the last 3 years or to what I learnt in rehab.

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    • Posted

      Well thank you for the information. The thing is I am having days without ANY breathlessness, like a normal person. And days where I'm am partially breathtless. And I'm trying to sort out these erratic symptoms-no symptoms, I mean can someone breath normally with emphysema? To top it off, I have general anxiety disorder on top of mild COPD (FEV1 +80%) and cannot understand with such numbers that I can get breathlessness sometimes. Also, almost no coughing. So I'm trying to distinghish between anxiety and COPD and I figured that maybe I have mild emphysema... My GP thinks it's anxiety related since FEV1 of over 80% cannot results in breathlessness at rest... But I don't know...
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    • Posted

      Emphysema isn't a different thing to COPD, it's one of the conditions under that umbrella heading.   

      I don't see the point of trying to self-diagnose emphysema:  if your doctor thinks you have it you'll be prescribed the appropriate medication and should get yourself to pulmonary rehab ASAP to learn how to manage it.

      AND if you're a smoker, you need to stop ASAP and stay away from other people's smoke and all other air borne pollution as much as possible    In spite of the tobacco companies' propoganda, smoking doesn't reduce anxiety, it causes and exacerbates it


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  • Posted

    Hi I have COPD (don't know whether it's primarily Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema) with a lung function of around 78%.   Some times I am fine and almost feel like I did pre COPD  but other days any exertion gets me a bit breathless.   I don't know all the triggers but air quality affects me as does pollution ie traffic and also dust mites.  

    Jude is quite right to say CB and E both come under COPD but most people have primarily one with a touch of the other which could explain the variations in SOB as well.  x

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