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Doctor insights on: Why Do Some People Develop Emphysema When They Smoke While Others Do Not

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Copd (Definition)

COPD may include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. Chronic bronchitis is the production of increased mucus caused by inflammation. Bronchitis is considered chronic if you cough and produce excess mucus most days for three months in a year, two years in a row. Emphysema is a disease that damages the air sacs and/or the smallest breathing tubes in the lungs. ...Read more


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What could cause me to get emphysema if I have never smoked?

What could cause me to get emphysema if I have never smoked?

Number of things: Most notably, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited disease. Also, environmental or occupational exposures. Second-hand smoke is also possible though by a longer stretch. Sometimes, normal chest x-rays of healthy young people are overread as emphysema. Hope this helps. ...Read more

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What are the chances of getting emphysema if you have not smoked in 30 years?

What are the chances of getting emphysema if you have not smoked in 30 years?

Limited: But the answer is more related to how many packs a day and for how many years you smoked (packs x years), also related to individual genetic factors. If you have cough or shortness of breath, see your doctor for a spirometry (breathing test). The test is quick and simple. ...Read more

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Can you tell me if i smoked heavily for a long time, can it lead to emphysema?

Can you tell me if i smoked heavily for a long time, can it lead to emphysema?

ABSOLUTELY: Yes, you may have it already. Please quit and have yourself evaluated by your doctor. It is never too late to quit! ...Read more

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What are the chances of getting emphysema if the person did not smoke for 30 years?

Depends: Some patients are more susceptible to damage from tobacco and develop emphysema even after quitting smoking for many years, and others never do. It is all very individual and cannot really be quantified. ...Read more

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Ihaven't smoked in 28 years and I have just been told I have emphysema. Will that get worst?

Ihaven't smoked in 28 years and I have just been told I have emphysema. Will that get worst?

Possibly: It could get worse with time, even though you quit smoking a while back. It is important to take your medications such as inhalers, as directed by your doctor in order to prevent further problems. ...Read more

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Is it possible to be diagnosed with emphysema if the person hasn't smoked for over 4 decades?

Yes: Smoking does its damage to the lungs and lung function deteriorates with age for everybody anyway. Environmental and occupational exposures, as well as undertreated asthma can also contribute to emphysema. ...Read more

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My grandpa was smoker from age 14 till he died from emphysema at 70. His 2 kids who smoked to 40 lived to 90. Is stopping that helpful?

Yes...: Smoking can result in emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and other cancers as well like bladder cancer and esophageal cancer. We often speak of relatives who live long lives despite having smoked but these cases are rare! (so we talk about them!) it is much more common for smokers to develop at least one of these life-threatening problems. This is why it is imperative to quit smoking! ...Read more

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Dr. Sue Ferranti
491 doctors shared insights

Emphysema (Definition)

Emphysema is a lung disease caused by destruction of lung tissue--specifically the alveoli, which are the smallest sac-like units of the lung responsible for oxygen exchange. It is characterized by shortness of breath, an expanded chest, and possible signs of low oxygen in the body such as bluish ...Read more


Young Health (Definition)

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