What are the symptoms of Alpha-1?

The clinical symptoms of Alpha-1 may look similar to the clinical symptoms of other serious lung disorders

People with Alpha-1 may have clinical symptoms like wheezing, a cough that won’t go away, or trouble breathing. People with other lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), emphysema, and asthma often have these same clinical symptoms.

Is it COPD, or could you also have Alpha-1?

It is important to understand that the clinical symptoms of Alpha-1 may look like the clinical symptoms of other serious lung conditions, but the cause of the disease in Alpha-1 patients is different from other diseases such as COPD or asthma.

Alpha-1 is the most common genetic risk factor for COPD and predisposes patients to a higher risk of developing COPD and asthma.

Alpha-1 can cause COPD, even in people who have never smoked.6
Symptoms and Characteristics of Alpha-1 vs COPD and Asthma7,8
Diagnosis Prevalence (US) Age of Onset Symptoms Lung Function Test Findings Recommended Testing
Asthma ~25 million Variable Episodic wheezing, cough, labored breathing Predominantly reversible airflow obstruction Allergy testing, peak-flow monitoring
COPD ~15 million 35-40 years old Chronic productive cough, labored breathing, wheezing, weight loss Predominantly fixed airflow obstruction Alpha-1 genetic testing, chest CT scan
Alpha-1 ~100,000 40-53 years old Progressive labored breathing, cough, wheezing, phlegm production, fatigue Pulmonary restriction, fixed airway obstruction Alpha-1 genetic testing, Alpha-1 blood level testing
Diagnosis Lung Function Test Findings Recommended Testing
Asthma Predominantly reversible airflow obstruction Allergy testing, peak-flow monitoring
COPD Predominantly fixed airflow obstruction Alpha-1 genetic testing, chest CT scan
Alpha-1 Pulmonary restriction, fixed airway obstruction Alpha-1 genetic testing, Alpha-1 blood level testing

Alpha-1 may be the root cause of other serious lung diseases

Because the physical symptoms of Alpha-1 may also look the same as the physical symptoms of other serious lung diseases, it may be hard for your doctor to diagnose Alpha-1.

When you talk with your doctor about Alpha-1, it is important to understand that:

  • A person with undiagnosed Alpha-1 may already be diagnosed with other serious lung diseases, such as COPD, emphysema, and asthma
  • Alpha-1 can worsen the symptoms of COPD, emphysema, and other serious lung conditions
  • Without testing, it may take a long time for you and your doctor to understand that worsening symptoms may be related to the underlying presence of Alpha-1
  • Testing and diagnosis for Alpha-1 is different than testing and diagnosis for COPD, emphysema, or asthma
  • Testing for Alpha-1 is quick, simple, and provides fast results
  • There is no reason to wait to be tested for Alpha-1. If you are at risk for Alpha-1, you should get tested as soon as possible
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Ninety Percent
More than 90% of patients living with Alpha-1 have not been properly diagnosed.3

Quick questions to ask yourself and your doctor about Alpha-1

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Results

YOUR SCORE:

You have a LOW score. Continue to follow your doctor's instructions regarding any symptoms you may be experiencing. If your symptoms linger or worsen, you may want to consider getting tested for Alpha‑1. Print your assessment result and keep it on hand for future reference.

You have a MEDIUM score. Talk with your doctor about this evaluation to discuss the need for testing for Alpha‑1. Print this results page and bring it with you to your doctor's office for discussion.

REMEMBER: Not all genetically predisposed individuals will develop clinically significant symptoms. Your doctor can conduct tests to determine if you have Alpha‑1.

You have a HIGH score. Talk with your doctor about this assessment to discuss the need for testing yourself and your family members for Alpha‑1. Remember to print your assessment result and bring it with you to your doctor’s office.

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