Another case study focused on a 50-year old patient whose complaint was a two-year long difficulty breathing upon exertion. Assessments revealed he had no history of chest pain or cough⁵.
One remarkable sign of bullous emphysema is seen through a chest x-ray. According to experts, the giant bullae often appear to make the lungs disappear. For this reason, many doctors also call bullous emphysema the “vanishing lung syndrome.”
The two most common causes of bullous emphysema are cigarette smoking and an inherited condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Note that having alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency generally increases the risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — not just bullous emphysema. It also heightens the possibility of skin problems, liver disease, and inflammation of blood vessels.
Reports also say smoking crack cocaine or marijuana, or using intravenous illicit drugs that damage the alveoli, can lead to bullous emphysema².