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At The Onset Of COPD

What is COPD? COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.

How young is too young to have COPD?

That’s something that is heard frequently. If you do an internet search, you will see that the onset of COPD can start in the 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond. Those ages depend on which research study you’re looking at. Many people experience symptoms of COPD long before they area officially diagnosed.

I find it so sad to hear from those who are in their 30s and 40s, who are told they can’t have COPD because they are too young. There are actually some 20 year olds with COPD. I was about 51 when I was diagnosed and people were telling me that I couldn’t have COPD because I wasn’t on oxygen.

Too often it’s easy for people to judge, without taking the time to sit down and talk. Sadly, most people have been accused of smoking. While smoking is the number one cause of COPD, we need to realize that smoking is not the only cause or risk factor of COPD.

Some other possible causes of COPD:

• Cigarette, cigar, pipes or other inhaled smoke pollutants
• Second hand smoke
• Chemicals
• Dust
• Fumes
Burning wood
• Cooking fuel
• Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

So how is COPD diagnosed?

• A Pulmonary Lung Function Test measures the amount of air you can inhale and exhale. This also tells if your lungs are delivering enough oxygen to your blood. Spirometry is the most common lung function test. Here, you blow into a large tube connected to a small machine called a spirometer. This machine measures how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can blow the air out of your lungs.
• A CT Scan of your lungs can help detect emphysema and help determine if you might benefit from surgery for COPD. CT scans can also be used to screen for lung cancer.
• Chest X-Ray can show emphysema as well as showing lung cancer, pneumonia, other lung illnesses and even congestive heart failure.
Arterial blood gas analysis measures how well your lungs are bringing oxygen into your blood and removing carbon dioxide.
• Laboratory tests are used to determine if you have the genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which may be the cause of some cases of COPD. This test may be done if you have a family history of COPD and develop COPD at a young age, such as under age 45.

These are just a few things you may wonder at the onset of COPD. Please know that you aren’t alone. There is a large community of individuals who truly understand.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.