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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Non-smoker, only 27 and diagnosed with COPD?

 spevak - Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:13 am

Three years ago I had acute bronchitis, I took antibiotics but they didn't seem to help a lot. After about a month my cough and wheezing went. Afterwards, I didn't notice any particular breathing problems, only that during the winter I would sometimes feel a slight heaviness at the bottom of my chest. However, over last eight months I began to notice that occasionally I felt a little short of breath. As the months passed by it became more frequent, but still intermittent, and sometimes I would begin to suddenly feel short of breathe even when sitting down, but eventually it would pass. I went to a doctor here in slovakia. He asked a few different questions, and then did a spirometry test and an x-ray. He concluded that I had COPD. I was totally shocked by this as I am 27, I have never smoked, or spent much time in smoky places, or worked with any dangerous substances, there is no history of this in my family. I have two older siblings and they have no lung problems. When he listened to my chest, he said that my breathing sounded clear, and I can't say I really have much of a cough. I am currently taking an anithistamine daily, a tablet broncholidator twice daily, and two steriod inhlaers twice daily. I am always very nervous when I go to the doctors, and so wonder whether this may have affected my spirometry results. Also I have been under a lot of stress the last few months, and so it may be a contributor as I suffered briefly with panic attacks as a child. I also suffer with irritable bowel symdrome and have intolerence to certain foods, like raw onion, and sometimes garlic for example. Could my problem be more to do with stress and some allergy or food intolerance?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:04 pm

User avatar Hi there -

While it is possible to develop COPD early and without smoking, it is usually due either to chronic bronchitis or asthma, or to some environmental contaminant. While any of these is theoretically possible, it seems unlikely.

The fact that you're aware of the potential of stress in anxious people to adversely affect breathing patterns and to throw off the CO2 balance, causing some difficulty in putting out air forcefully, temporarily, this could be a possible factor also, although I would think a competent physician would recognize this, as it may have compromised the test. I'm not aware of any way in which IBS could affect a PFT, however. Do you know which type of spirometer was used and which sort of reading was done? There are several, as well as a chemical challenge test, and it just seems slightly odd that the diagnosis of COPD was made so quickly and possibly under less than ideal conditions.

Again, it is possible you have COPD, but I really think a second opinion, based on a fully comprehensive pulmonary function test might yield different results. It may well be worth the trouble.

I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck and please keep us updated.
 spevak - Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:08 pm

Hi, Thank you very much for your reply I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly what spirometer was used, but it looks like the Microlab Portable Spirometer. I only did this breathing test, no others. I also had an x-ray done and that was clear. Yesterday, I went for a checkup and my doctor did another spirometry test, and my results were dramatically better than the first time. My first test showed I had medium hard respiratory problems, and the second one showed that I have light respiratory problems. He also took a blood sample, but the results were clear. He's slightly changed my medication and has also prescribed calcium supplements in order to strengthen my immune system which he feels is weak. I will return in 10 days time. My doctor has told me that he's a little unsure as to what exactly is wrong with me, but he's still considering it and treating it under the umberella term of COPD.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:21 pm

User avatar Hi again -

This is very interesting. Apparently your problem varies depending upon so-far-unknown factors, which makes it sound rather like asthma more than COPD. Also, I'm a little skeptical of that diagnosis because of the fairly limited testing and generally positive exam. I'm relieved to hear the doctor is loosening somewhat the strict diagnosis. Even if you have asthma it would be treated "under the umbrella" of COPD, pretty much. Hopefully this continues in a good direction and the main concern is that you are able to function normally, even if it means use of asthma/COPD meds. What this is called is only important clinically.

Thanks again for following up. Stay in touch,please, and let us know how things progress.

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