Hi everyone am new on here. Have been struggling with shortness of breath on exertion eg walking upstairs, uphill, swimming etc for the last year. An X Ray at that time was completely normal, tried two inhalers didn't make any difference. A repeat X Ray last week has shown mild emphysema at base of both lungs. Feel really upset by this, am otherwise fit and well 62 and have never smoked. Am awaiting a respiratory referral. Any advice very welcome. Many thanks.

14 Replies

  • Welcome Valerie, that must have come as quite a shock but all is not lost. Emphysema comes under COPD and many have that and live long and happy lives. My hubby has chronic bronchitis which also comes under COPD. As you have discovered, not everyone who has lung problems is or was a smoker.

    I am sure others will reply soon and l hope you have lots of support and will have good medication. Eat well and exercise as generally caring for yourself is a good step forward. Xxxxxx

  • Hi I know it's a shock to get a diagnosis like this but please try not worry. Sassy is quite right. I was diagnosed mild 8 years ago and am 62 now and still have the same lung function. My doctor at the time said something else would get me first before it got bad ie old age. So unless you want to live to 120...

    My main advice is not to google as you will scare yourself silly - stick to recognised sites like this one and the NHS etc. This is a great site and most of what I know about copd I learnt on here. x

  • A very warm welcome to you. love cx

  • Hello Valarie. I am glad you have posted but I am also sorry that you find yourself in this situation. It is very scary to find yourself out of breath.I so understand how upset you must feel. Be kind to yourself. Don't go on Google too much. Information on the internet is by and large very generalised. Take things slow and easy your own pace. Do come here often. This place has given me so much wonderful support.

    Have a good weekend.

    Cas xx 🌹

  • Hi and welcome, make yourself at home x

  • Welcome to our big international family.Of course it's scary finding out your short of breath.Here is a great place to get good sensible information from kind caring people.

  • Hello Valerieveronica, welcome to the site :). You'll find lots of great support here and lots of good information from folks with varying stages of lung / breathing problems who know what they're talking about. x

  • Welcome Val--I haven't been on this site a long time but have found good people who have the same or similar ailments as I and they will help you to understand that all is not lost with a diagnosis that you'd sooner not gotten but remember how much worse it could be--we have to always remember to count our blessings. You are only young and you have very healthy lungs compared to me and many others who smoked for a lengthy period of time so you will do very well--do not worry or be afraid. Hugggs Luda

  • Hi Valerie, Like you I'm a non smoker and this summer noticed exertion was causing me breathlessness. My spirometry was normal but my gas transfer levels were abnormal and suggestive of Emphysema. I am waiting for a ct scan. I've just turned 58 it's very upsetting but at least I know why this has happened to me. I have severe alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency which is an inherited genetic condition. I'm not on any medication because I don't have any obstruction! My advice would be to write down a list of questions and info for your consultant visit or you will most likely forget everything, like me! And of course get as much support as you can, on and off this site. X

  • Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement - the hugs are really appreciated. I guess having seen my mum struggle through some of the worst times with emphysema however she was a lifelong smoker. Also being a Palliative Care specialist Nurse I have looked after many people at end of life with COPD and seen some not pretty things! I naturally feel a bit apprehensive but you're right am young and otherwise healthy, still working so he fully with the right care/plan all will be ok.

    Thank you for your replies.

  • Welcome to this amazing site. We all have something in common on here and i have had lots of help with my meds and other aspects of my copd that i didn't know about xx

  • Hello and welcome Valerie

  • Welcome Valerie. Have you considered bronchiectasis as a source of your breathlessness? We know that bronchiectasis is often masked by other chest ailments such as asthma, COPD, so it might be worth your time mentioning this to your GP. I am a member of a bronchiectasis patient support group here in Scotland and would be happy to elaborate on the condition and its component effects.


  • Hi thank you for replying I have to say the support in just 24 hours is amazing! No I hadn't considered that but it's certainly a question to ask when my respiratory referral comes through. The specialist nurse mentioned Alpha 1 Antitrypsin as Emphysema can be genetic especially in non smokers. My mum had emphysema but I don't think was ever tested due to her smoking.

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