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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Emphysema, but I don`t smoke - never have

07/17/2007

Question:

My father. who is 81 years old was just diagnosed with emphysema. He went for testing because he`s been having shortness of breath "just sitting still". He also has an irratating chronic cough. He is not over weight, if anything, he`s under weight. He has never smoked and is not around people who do.

What could have caused him to get emphysema?

Answer:

Your father's shortness of breath at rest might be related to something other than emphysema. If he has never smoked, it is unlikely for him to have emphysema. Depending on how extensive the testing was, he may need to be further evaluated for his shortness of breath and cough.

If he truly does have emphysema, genetic abnormalities as well as chronic exposure to occupational dusts (e.g. coal dust, silica dust) would be the most likely causes.

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Response by:

Mahasti   Rittinger, RRT Mahasti Rittinger, RRT
Clinical Program Manager of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Phillip T Diaz, MD Phillip T Diaz, MD
Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University