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Just Starting Diagnosis Process

Hello all,
I had an appointment last week because I have been struggling lately feeling really short of breath and lower legs have been swelling during the day. It is most noticeable to me after eating and when just sitting. I honestly didn't think it was a lung issue, but was thinking maybe some kind of food allergy. They did a chest x-ray and lab work and everything came back normal except the chest x-ray indications were "Bilateral hyperinflation suggesting severe pulmonary emphysema." This shocked me because I am a 40 year old non-smoker. The only thing I could think that could have even put me somewhat at risk was being in South Korea for almost 2 years while in the military because they have a lot of pollution, but that's about it.

I have a couple referrals in now for a CT scan and pulmonary function test and to see a pulmonologist. But I am having a really hard time just waiting for this. Any thoughts/advice would be appreciated.


  1. Hi, I have been on oxygen with COPD for 1 1/2 years now. keep in touch with your dr. my legs swell because I hold fluid from congestive heart failure too, I take fluid pills and try not to eat any salt. my dr had me go to pulmonary therapy sessions. that helped so much they taught me how to breathe and do exercises. and about how the lungs and heart work together. I have never smoked but lived and worked with smokers. So wish you the best.

    1. - Jessi, Welcome! I'm glad you went to the doctor when you did. I waited too long, and on the day I arrived there for my first appointment, I literally passed out in the doctor's office. Luckily, the office was in a wing of the hospital, and they rushed me down to the ED. I had pneumonia on top of my untreated COPD, and nearly didn't make it. But I did, and spent a week there followed by 3 more weeks in a rehab hospital, getting back on my feet, sort of. That was a year ago and I haven't been out of the house yet. You will find that fear is your biggest enemy, and the more you learn the better you will deal with that fear. It sounds like you have some mild heart failure there causing the edema. They should get you on oxygen, some prednisone (a cortical steroid) to help open your lungs up a little, a nebulizer with albuterol breathing treatments you can do at home, and a mild diuretic for the edema (leg swelling). Once all these things are treated and under control, you'll feel much better. You need to not wait at all. Where are you? Any delays are not helpful, and any good doctor will know that and act accordingly. Get on them and make them get going, there is no time to waste. I don't tolerate slow doctors. My Dad was in Kunsan for a couple of years, back in the '60's. There are lots of good folks with experience and answers here. So ask away, and keep us posted on how you are doing.

      1. I'm a little better! Thanks!

      2. Glad to hear it! I see you as more of an optomistic guy, but nobody feels all that cheery when they're sick.

    2. Hi Jessi, I know how frightening the waiting can be, and also, just hearing the diagnosis. I am a 73 year old woman with 4th stage, or very severe, emphysema. I was diagnosed about ten years ago. There are many things that can help you manage this condition. Mostly inhalers, I would say, and they do help. But also exercise, eating smaller meals, and knowledge. Read everything you can find, because knowledge is power. You will be less fearful if you feel more in control. This is a great website, full of people who are knowledgeable, and willing to help and share their experiences. You can always vent here.
      Best wishes on getting all the details taken care of so you feel you have a good understanding of what's going on. I have those coming up on Wednesday, and I always ask for the results, so I can compare. Report back, if you feel like it. We've all been there.

      1. Hi Jessi, I hear how scary this time has been and I'm sorry you are going through it! I'm sure more of our community members will chime in but in the meantime here are a few articles that I think you may find helpful:,, Also, there are many things that can contribute to a COPD diagnois, smoking and pollution being some but there is also a genetic form of COPD called Alpha-1 that you may want to consider asking your doctor about here are articles on that: and All the best, Sam S. (, team member).

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