Recently diagnosed with Emphysema

Hello everyone,

I'm a 40 year old Male, and a smoker for 27 years. For the past 23 years, I've been a heavy cannabis smoker (cannabis and tobacco mixed). Since early 2013, I've been going to my doctor complaining of chest pain, pain under lower left rib (front and back), acid reflux, excessive wind and shortness of breath.

I was finally referred to a general surgery nurse in June 2015, and she sent me for a CT of chest to pelvis.

In August, I was given the results: Emphysema and Tuberculosis scarring (was gobsmacked by this), but no active infection. I am still waiting to be sent for a Spirometry examination; my appointment is January 27th 2016.

My current symptoms are:

- Annoying dull pain/feeling under lower ribs (sometimes front, sometimes back).

- Slight pain when taking a deep breath (left side)

- Reverberating cough on left side

- Feeling unable to take a full lungful of air on left side (most of the time, not all)

I stopped smoking upon diagnosis, and although I've wobbled once or twice, I feel that I won't ever restart. I have a good job, two children (10 and 14) and a cancer survivor wife and I have a couple of questions if anyone could help as my GP practice is uninterested.

1. Is a CT scan conclusive of Emphysema?

2. Will I be able to live a decent life (work full time, exercise, look after my family) with this condition?

Thanks in advance..

17 Replies

  • Hi Firebug,

    To answer your questions, yes a CT scan will show emphysema. I was diagnosed with asthma and chronic bronchitis ( COPD) in March this year, gave up smoking within 12 thing i ever did. But then in September i had a CT scan, which showed about 5 or 6 emphysema spots on each of my lungs. I am classed as moderate. So, with a good diet, exercise etc, i intend being around for a long time yet...i am 62 years old.

    If you check out youtube you will find loads of videos on pulmonary exercises which help to strengthen the lungs.

    You also need to check out juicing raw vegetables and blending fruit, to give your body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs.

    Because your lungs are not functioning 100% your heart is having to work harder to pump the oxygen around your body, so take care of your heart. No sugar, salt or fried foods.

    I am still a newbie so no doubt there will others around later with more advice. I live the other side of the world, so it is lunchtime with me now.


  • Thanks Swerv

  • A CT scan does determine emphysema. The spirometry will determine how far it has progressed. I would hope it is not advanced and that you could continue life as usual. There are variables, but much of the disease depends on how you feel. I am not a medical person but I hope I helped.

  • Hello firebug

    Well you have started to look after yourself now you have given up the ciggies....well done.

    If your GP is so unhelpful, is there another one you can see.

    Regarding your questions.

    Many members on here live an active life after diagnoses it depends on how you feel, not what the numbers say on your test results.

    When you have your spirometer test you should get prescribed the proper medication, this will help a lot.

    Read the NICE guidelineson copd about the treatment you should be getting from your GP, go armed with this to your GP if he is so unhelpful.

    Don't be put off by him.

    The BFL have a nurse you can call for advice and you can get loads of information booklets from them

    Don't let the condition stop you from doing anything if you are up to it, a positive attitude help so much, as anxiety can drag you down.

    Happy Christmas to you and your family

    Velvet xx 🎅🎅🎅🎅

  • Many of us with COPD have Gastro Oesophageal Reflux. That might account for your acid reflux and wind.

    As for the pain. With COPD we're likely to have hyperinflated lungs that take up a lot more room in the chest cavity than healthy lungs. Your rib pain may well be due to hyperinflated lungs pressing on your rib cage. This would also account for the minor pain you have when taking a deep breath.

    Congratulations for giving up smoking. It sure isn't an easy thing to do. Don't have the occasional smoke. You might find it will put you back to where you were before you gave up and you'll have a worse time trying to quit. Vaping cannabis (no tobacco) is less harmful than smoking. I believe it opens up the lungs, quickly albeit temporarily. Some people vap in place of using a rescue inhaler.

    The results of your CT scan for COPD are conclusive. Did anything show up that would account for the left lung giving you more problems? You'll know at what stage of COPD you are when you take the spirometry test.

    As long as you eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and have enough sleep you should be able to live a normal life. COPD is progressive but you could slow down the progression for years if you live a healthy lifestyle.

    Best of luck.

  • Hi Firebug, I would agree with all that has been said, well done with the smoking and best wishes for a healthier future. Have a good Christmas.

  • Everybody has said the right things BUT don't smoke again if you've got this far without it. It's is the one thing that will make the biggest difference. ( I had to give up after 50 years on it!)

  • Welcome to the site Fireball

    I can't really add much to what you've already been told. What fantastic replies you got. Please let us know how you make out. Don't forget to ask for a copy of your spirometry test. One bit of advice- ask questions. I ask so many questions, they think I know more than them! Lol.. Theres so much good information on here. You can do a search and look at older posts. I can spend hours looking at the older posts.

    Rubyxx 😊 😊

  • Hi

    I've no idea but I'm sure some of the.guys on here suffer with the same condition as you.

    They are a very friendly lot

    Good luck happy christmas

  • Hi, Firebug. I can't answer your questions, but I do have similar symptoms to you in sore ribs, which I had two years before my diagnosis of moderate COPD this February. Mine is caused by sore intercostal muscles and my diaphragm trying to make the unresponsive rib cage expand further, especially when I sing Handel arias or do energetic exercise. The solution is to keep taking the Ventolin before I do anything demanding, and to keep taking the other meds I'm prescribed. I also see an osteopath occasionally, who helps ease the diaphragm/lower ribs symptoms when I've done a bit too much.

    Keep asking questions and trying different solutions until you know what's causing your symptoms and how to cope with them.

  • That dose not sound good,1 your doc wants a kick at the rear end 2 have seen a consultant if not why not, Has any medication been used,if not why not,you must a lung consultant and get his view of your problem,your GP should have made an apointment for you.I have the same condition I see a nurse every 3 month to check me out I also have a hospital on the end of the phone if I am in trouble,last time the consultant put me on oxygen,Ok i am a lot older than you,that could be the reason for me ,don't let this go. good luck.

  • First, I would ask your GP for referral to a regular lung specialist. A pulmonary doctor. They will then review your scan, and possibly do other breathing tests, and tell you more. Frankly a GP is not qualified to answer your questions.If he won't refer you, then call one on your own and say you want a second opinion.

  • Thanks for the replies everyone.

    Believe it or not, I actually changed my GP and moved to a new practice. The new ones are as useless as the old. I'm convinced they're only in it for the money.

    I don't feel that bad to be honest, it's just this damned annoying 'tickling'/pressing pain in my left ribs that's bothering me. For example, I can march for 4 miles with no problems - march, not walk. I'm trying to build myself up to jog currently and starting to play 5 a side football - as a goalkeeper to begin with!

    Regarding medications, I was given an inhaler by a locum at the original practice - Ventolin, and it does nothing for me. This same locum 'forgot' to refer me for Spirometry so I'm not surprised the inhaler does nothing.

    Anyway, thank you all for taking the time to reply to me and a have a great Christmas and New Year.

  • Hi fireball and welcome. Well done door giving up smoking I gave up 11 years ago when diagnosed with cold.

    I took up swimming tried to eat healthy I do like chocolate. You will always find someone on hear to help take care

  • Hi Firebug, a mate of mine had similar symptoms as you did, in the end he could not bare the pain in his chest anymore so he went into the hospital as an emergency, they sent him from our local hospital straight to Liverpool hospital from North Wales as he had been having heart attacks which he did not realise, the reason being he is only 25 and did not think it was a heart attack he had been having his Dr said he was very lucky to be alive, he has had stents put in but one of his arteries is solid they can not do anything with it, and whats caused all this is the stuff he was smoking Skunk, Cannabis, the smoke going into his system from these gave him hardening of the arteries his dad died of a heart attack at the age of 42 his arteries were all ceased up they could not help him, I am glad you have given up smoking, I think you have stopped in time to clean your system out and lead a healthy life. All the best for the future. Steve

  • Hi, It sure is tough being newly diagnosed. I agree with the other responses, especially with the GPs not usually being knowledgeable enough. You need a pulmonary specialist. I have hyperinflation and have the dull annoying pain, with the occasional stabbing pain that lasts just seconds. I also have bullous emphysema and think the bullae cause pain too. I have scarring but they didn't say what its from. Maybe thats what causes that pain....the drs dont seem concerned but i havent asked my pulmonary dr yet since she is on maternity leave until March. Your pfts are on my 30th birthday. Remember to get a copy and research it online. Keep up with the exercise! Not one person can give you a prognosis. If they do, its pure guesswork. Some people live with mild emphysema a year, some live with more severe for 20. Be sure to avoid those with colds and flus. Go to Dr right away if you feel an infection coming on. Big risk of decline in lung function are infections. I'd also make preparations in case something does happen to you. Not to sound morbid, but its a serious condition. Definitely manageable though. Dont slip on smoking, the one thing that keeps me going strong is just wanting to be able to see my daughter grow up. She's two. Post updates so we can see how you're doing!

  • Thanks everyone, you've made me feel a bit better. :)

    I'll make a post when I get my results from the Spirometry

    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

You may also like...