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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

36-year-old with mild COPD, emphysema, bullae



I am 36 years old and have been told by 2 specialists that I have mild COPD (from breathing test), paraseptal emphysema and both lungs have several small bulla. This was fond on a CT and CTA scan when I went to hospital for chest pains, said that I had small pheumothorax that was causing the pain. My grandmother had the bulla, emphysema and lung caner that killed her. My question is where can I find information on this type of emphysema? (was told and read that it is a rare kind) How can I find out if this is lung caner? Both Dr.’s and respiratory therapist said that it was not caused by my small smoking history; ( I have not smoked in years and only did for a short time) I do not have the apha -1 deficiency or a autoimmune disorder. I am very healthy from eating right to exercise, however I now have shortness of breath and cough some. What could be causing me to have these very serious lung issues at my age????? Please only help, informaiton or ideas would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. COPD generally occurs in older adults after cigarette smoke exposure. However, there are several causes of premature emphysema that can cause lung bullae. Some of these causes include alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency and autoimmune diseases as you mention, as well as premature birth, neurofibromatosis, drug use, sarcoidosis, HIV, and connective tissue disorders.

Alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency is a known inherited form of emphysema, but there may certainly be other inherited forms of emphysema that are not yet described.

I am including a link to an article (www.chestjournal.org/content/132/1/338.full) that describes some of the causes of premature emphysema and bullae in the discussion. I encourage you to focus on the causes in general and not the diagnosis for that particular case because it was a rare finding.

A lung doctor/pulmonologist may be able to give you more information on your condition and answer your questions.

For more information:

Go to the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University