Diagnosed with emphysema at 38

I started suspecting something was wrong a couple of weeks ago, chest X-ray confirmed my worst fear: emphysema. I have a two year old and a three year old, I've been quit smoking for four years. I don't want to leave my kids without a mom!!!! I just found this out yesterday and I'm not coping very well. Can I live another 30 years?

30 Replies

Sorry to hear this you seem so young. I was diagnosed at 42 with COPD that was 12 years ago I gave up smoking and took up swimming due to lower back problems can't exercise on land. I have a flu jab every year a emergency pack of meds { antibiotics and steroids } at home and a yearly lung function test and I now keep away from people with the flu.

I plan to stay on this mortal coil another 50 years so that I can get back all the tax I paid in my pension and then when I leave this place I will come back as a man.

At the moment life is good if not a bit slower take care we are always hear

Yes you can with a big fat can but you will have to look after your own health by eating right and i do not mean you can not eat chips ect because you can just donot eat loads at one meal and if you got time exersic even go up and down the stairs about 5 times one after the other and use the bottom of the stairs as a step up take the kids to the park and walk if its not to far and you should do it good luck

Yes of course you can. You will not leave your kids without a mum and if you look after yourself your will see your grandchildren and even great grandchildren. x

Thank you both for the replies. I'm feeling a bit lost at the moment. I see a pulmologist on nov 9 and I'm scared to find out how bad this is. I've got shortness of breath that seems to get worse and worse, trying to convince myself it's anxiety as I have panic attacks, but I'm sure that's just wishful thinking. Everyone around me is a smoker and act like this is just par for the course, no big deal suck it up. But all I can think about is my babies and how they deserve better than this. I think I've had lung disease for a long time. Parents smoked in the house my entire childhood then I started smoking at 19. I remember waking up gasping for breath at age 21, then noticed shortness of breath on exertion at 26. The cough and phlegm started around 30. When I got pregnant at 34 I quit smoking. I started back smoking 4 months ago and immediately got sick, it's been downhill ever since. I'm quit now and will never smoke again but the damage is done. I'm scared to death!!!

You need to be strict about your environment. Being where people are smoking is as damaging to your lungs as being a smoker. It may be difficult to explain to people and say no smoking in my house/office/car but the alternative is not good so be quite firm.

hiya Kaliina i also got diagnosed with severe copd at age 38and was devasted thinking my life was near the end, however with the right advice and using the support available ie pulmory rehab and specialist nurse i am now 58 and loving life i swim regulary and enjoy healthy eating , i still dread any amount of stairs . so get motivated and enjoy life with your children ..

You need to get out of that smokey house and stop subjecting your kids to the same torture you had to put up with; find a way and get out !!!

Keep a positive mental attitude.Exercise. the more you do the more you will be able to do. Eat right and keep seeing a good doctor. It will be fine. Let us know the diagnosis when you get it.

I was diagnosed with severe emphysema three years ago, immediately went on the internet and scared myself silly, so glad I found these people on here :) I exercise take my meds and vitamins and hope to live a long and happy life, albeit a bit slower x

I want to add that this site has been my only source of comfort. You guys are amazing and have helped me deal with this more than anything else. Thank you.

Good morning Kaliina,

You won't be going anywhere so no talk of being scared. Now you are smoke free you have done the hardest part. Let your medication, diet and exercise help you, and it is very important the you are putting good stuff in your body, and drinking plenty of water. Take all the help that is on offer from your surgery and other places - here is a great great source of advice. Do try to avoid being near smokers, and if they are friends and family they will show you how they love you and not smoke near you or your children. Avoid nasty bugs if you can, and I know that is difficult with children for they are great carriers of germs. Everyone smoked when I was young, and we lived through the most awful pea soupers, plus I smoked heavily for 50 years, stopped about ten years or so ago and was diagnosed a couple of years ago with copd. Ask your doctor about a Pulmonary Rehabilitation class for they are wonderful and will help you tremendously in lots of ways. Don't think you are alone.


welcome Malina It is time to start being kind to yourself and accept help from family and friends while you get chance for some exercise and some rest time. With such young children you are bound to feel anxious . Don't stand for others smoking around you. Tell them your home is a no smoking area. You will come to terms with your condition in time and you are young enough to benefit from the exercise. Shed all the guilt about what caused your condition. Whatever problems you come across there is always someone on here who has experienced them and are more than happy to help. Best wishes Joyce.

Hi Kaliina

Thirty years plus, but it's up to you, no more smoking, keep fit, and you could live a very long life indeed, I was diagnosed 25 years ago when I was 50, and smoking 60 a day in a very high pressured job, I took up golf got a dog so have to walk every day, I am now 76 still playing golf still walking my dog, still not smoking,

Now take the attitude of some people I know diagnosed at the same time but took a negative attitude, at the same time as me decided it's incurable so carry on smoking eating junk food, full of doom and gloom, within 10 years they were in wheelchair on oxygen, and some died.

So there you go what route do you intend to take, take mine and you will live a long and happy life especially when the grandchildren come to call.

I wish you well


Hello Peter and thank you for replying. I honestly think if I didn't have kids I would curl up in a ball with my cigs and smoke myself into an early grave- sad but true. But I can't do that, I refuse to!!! I am determined to push forward and do everything I can to be here for them. I was told by a friend at my 20 year high school reunion that I sounded like I had copd, she had been diagnosed a year ago. She told me this as she happily puffed on her cigarette!! But she is the reason I rushed to the doctor. Copd at 38, I hadn't been aware it was possible!!! That girl probably saved my life and didn't even realize it.

I don't hold out to much hope for your friend. But with your positive attitude you will live along and fruitful life,

Try introducing your friend to this site, its the greatest tool we have peter

Hello Kaliina

And welcome.

You have found a wonderful site for advice, and support, from people who know what you are going through.

Feel free to Laugh, Rant, Question or share your concerns on here.

Follow your GPs advice, take your Meds, exercise, eat healthily, keep away from people with coughs and colds wherever possible, don't smoke, keep yourself and your children out of smokey environments, and you should live long enough to draw you pension for many, many years 😂

Make your house a no smoking area for the sake of yours and your children's health.

Be insistent, with everyone about this, ask them to go outdoors if they need to smoke.

Do not despair, keep a positive attitude, it really does help.


I was diagnosed with just the same at age 40 and was worried sick just like you, but I am now 66 and still here, ok now using oxygen when needed but I still have a life and am able to enjoy my small grand children so believe me life is not over. Just use your meds get as much exercise as you can and eat as healthily as you can afford to and you should be fine. Have the flu jab each year and do your best to keep away from people when they are unwell.

I was diagnosed the same age as you hun I'm 41 now n like u I thought I was gonna be gone in a few years, the key thing now is to keep as active as possible, I walk every day 3 times a day, look after yourself stay away from people with colds if you can xx

So sorry to hear of your diagnosis -- at least you've stopped smoking. If it's any consolation, I got my first diagnosis when I was 38, carried on smoking (that's not a suggestion - just to show how stupid I was) and I'm now 69. The answer to your question is -- YES, and probably longer!! Exercise (you will with little ones!), stay out of smoky places, enjoy your kids!!


Hi Kalina

You have more than 30+ years. I am 75 had emphysema since very early 40's. I did not quite smoking. Just quit 4 weeks ago. Don't feel much better. I get by. Get plenty breathing excersisi, walking swimming. The kids will keep you in excersising.

Do not let it get you worrying K. I have managed ok for many years. Did a lot of diving up to my 60's

Just enjoy yourself live like there is no tomorrow. Just do it.

Hi catalonia I was diagnosed with emphysema 3 years ago luckily I had seen a private consultant after the diagnosis who said 42 was very young to have such a diagnosis so she suddenly that I had a blood test results check for alpha I anyitrypsin deficiency alatd sure enough I was diagnosed with zz phenotype alphas1 knownas genetic emphysema.

Ask your doctor to do this blood test

it might explain why you are struggling.

Good luck. X

I had complete lung failure in 2008 and my wife was told I was not going to survive the night a number of times while I was in an induced coma. So I would look at life in a glass half full way and carry on in the best way you can. I am going to be honest and say you are going to have bad days but ride above them, if YOU let it take you down it will.


"...Can I live another 30 years? ..."

Probably..., but as with everyone else in the world, the next heartbeat isn't guaranteed. If you "clean up your act" and keep it clean it'll go a lot easier on you and your kids and husband.

I'm a 73 year old male and the way I've lived...., well...., many would not've survived the times I've had but...., I'm still here, but with COPD emphysema. So, the point is, don't despair; there're different ways of dealing with your particular case and I'm sure as you get to know it better, things will seen not as dire.

Hang in,


Hello and a belated welcome from me too. What a lot of replies and all positive and encouraging. There's always someone around so if you have wobbles, questions or problems it just jokes, come back for a chat! Sue x

Thank you all!!! I appreciate the support so much, and every story shared helps me get through this. I should clarify about saying everyone around me smokes. I should have said my family and friends are smokers -- but since I was pregnant with my first child I became VERY strict about no smoking near me or my kids, not in a house or car or even near them outside. Plus hand washing right after if they do smoke. I also stopped using all chemicals and air freshners and asked grandparents to refrain from perfumes when coming to my house lol ... they thought I was crazy but I knew my babies didn't need to inhale all that. So it's even crazier that I then picked up cigs again four months ago, but money and marital problems can make you do crazy things!

So I have worked hard to keep my babies safe, I grew up despising cigarettes and having to live with them, I would never subject my kids to the same thing. Especially now as I see the damage done, I will work hard to keep their lungs safe.

I'm currently wearing a patch just to make sure I keep the cravings under control, but just looking at my babies is really enough to keep me from smoking.

Today is the first day I haven't sat around sobbing and feeling sorry for myself. And I really do owe it to you guys. The internet is scary but this site is a Godsend. Thank you again!!!

Hi, I was diagnosed in 1989 and will hit 81 next month. I'm looking forward to at least another 10 years. So you thirty years looks more than good.

There's lots of help out there.

First, ask your GP to refer you for Pulmonary Rehab. Sounds daunting but it's not.

2 hours twice a week for just 6 weeks. This will set you up for your own exercise regime.

Each 2 hours is split. an hour of very light exercise at your own pace , then usually a cuppa, and then an hour of information. from an expert. This is run by the NHS and is free. if there is a follow up regime it will not be free but nevertheless will prove very helpful in keeping you fit.

You're the boss not the Emphysema. You must live with it not just tolerate it.

Good Luck.

I do have a question guys. Something that seems odd to me, I get very short of breath just by talking, but not as much when cleaning house or doing chores. Is this normal? It's as if talking is harder on my lungs than physical activity.

While your doing house work your moving about getting oxygen to your lungs, if your just sitting you aren't getting as much oxygen to them, I'm always bad in a morning but I go a walk it can be struggle but I feel better after xx

I am only 46, never smoked and lived a healthy life by going to the gym yet still got Emphysema (COPD). I think I got COPD because when I was a baby, I had whooping Cough. So to answer your question you can live another 50 years or more. Just keep going on and enjoy life. My wife and I have five daughters and five grandchildren. May God bless you and the family with long healthy life.

Thanks for the reply! I got a late start on making babies and just wanna be here to watch them grow up... and to be here for them the way my mom has always been there for me

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