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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Emphysema but no cough

 2redpens - Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:53 am

I am an active 40 year old/165 lb male. I quit smoking 10 months ago (after 20 years) - at which time I had no health problems - ie no problems breathing etc. Since then for the past month I have started experiencing a feeling of shortness of breath/tightness in my chest, along with soreness across my upper back, periodic pain in my abdomen & sides. (the pain comes/goes and moves around) My stomache feels bloated and sore. My family doctor diagnosed Emphysema and gave me a puffer - however I am concerned with this diagnosis for two main reasons - The puffer does not help my breathing and my symptoms do not worsen after excercise. Can the symptoms of Emphysema normally manifest after quiting smoking? From everything else I have read should my breathlessness not worsen after excercise & should I not experience a cough?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:34 pm

User avatar Hello -

You raise some legitimate questions. While it is possible for you to have early emphysema and shortness of breath (dyspnea) should start at the onset of exercise, and certainly should occur afterward. The pains and discomfort you describe, for the most part, sound like new tenderness due to use of accessory muscles in breathing. While this can happen with emphysema, it is usually associated with asthma pre-COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema). It may be that you have asthma as well, but then the puffer you were given should at least provide some relief if that's the case (and should even if you have early COPD). It sounds suspiciously like you have asthma complicated by early COPD. It might well be due to both asthma and smoking. It may also still be very amenable to therapy.

Could you tell me what sort of medication is in the puffer? There are a number of different kinds, and this one may just not be working for you where another type might. There are also other rehabilitative therapies for this problem. You'd seem a good candidate for treatment, and sound as though you're pretty healthy otherwise. The fact that you've stopped smoking is hugely significant and you deserve a lot of credit for having stopped.

I hope this all is helpful to you. Best of luck, and please follow up with us here.

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