Emphysema is a disease that is known also as a part of a group of conditions that make up COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Conditions in this class are related to breathing and are either associated with making breathing more difficult or shorter and more labored. Emphysema does this by damaging the small air sacs in the lungs over time by making big holes in their surrounding walls. What happened then is that the lungs’ surface area is lessened and similarly, so is the amount of oxygen that can make it into the bloodstream. The fibers that lead to the damaged air sacs can also be affected leading to their collapse, which can make exhaling difficult or impossible and cause air to be trapped in the lungs.
While the condition is actually relatively straight forward in many ways, one thing that is quite unclear is emphysema life expectancy. Because there are so many different factors that come in to play, calculating a precise survival rate for sufferers of the condition can be difficult. Additionally, lifestyle factors and changes in health status can greatly affect the outcome of the condition. However, there are some generalizations that can be made about emphysema life expectancy in terms of both stages of the disease and condition of the affected individual.
There are four emphysema stages that are used to gauge the severity of the condition. Stage one represents the least dangerous stage where pulmonary function is at or above 80% of normal. Stage two encompasses a larger range, where lung function ranges between 50% of normal and 80%. Stage three represents sufferers with more than 30% of their regular lung function remaining, but less than 50%. And, the fourth stage accounts for anyone with less than 30% of their regular lung function (or those with 50% or less lung function in conjunction with dramatically decreased blood oxygen levels). This particular classification of emphysema stages is considered the “gold standard” and the term “GOLD” is actually the name given to this staging hierarchy.
Another component to emphysema life expectancy however relates to the health of a person in general, which can provide a better idea of how emphysema may progress. This range is called “BODE” and it refers to (B)ody mass index, (O)bstruction (air flow limitation), (D)yspnea, or breathlessness and (E)xercise capacity, which specifically identifies the distance a person with emphysema can walk in precisely six minutes. Combining this information along with the gold standard staging mechanism can give a much better idea of not only how long someone might expect to live with their condition, but also how rapidly the disease may evolve.
Emphysema life expectancy can also be impacted by the underlying cause and whether or not it is still a factor. It is no secret that cigarette smoking is the single biggest culprit among emphysema causes. And, stopping smoking can not only greatly reduce the risk of developing cancer but also reduce the risk of it leading to a more rapid death. In the case of centrilobular emphysema (which is often the result of breathing in toxins, dusts or chemicals and is closely related to coal miners) or panlobular emphysema (which can be caused by Ritalin lung and some deficiencies) eliminating the single source is not as simple.
In short, pinpointing an emphysema prognosis is very challenging because it relies on some very generalized information and the individual who is affected. Loose guidelines concerning survival are about the only known information about emphysema life expectancy. Generally speaking, sufferers of mild emphysema (stage one, perhaps) are still living after a four year period. And, in that same four year period, between 60-70% of moderate emphysema sufferers are still living. Even half of those with very severe emphysema are still living after four years. One thing that is certain is that sufferers who have difficulty walking combined with dramatic weight loss encounter the shortest of life expectancies.
While life expectancy information may allude to advances in emphysema treatment, that is just not the case. There is no treatment specifically for the condition, rather various ways of managing symptoms. Steroids may be used for breathing issues and bronchodilators can assist with coughing and breathing problems. In more severe cases, oxygen may be used, and in the most severe of all cases, surgeries and even lung transplants may be considered as emphysema treatment. Ultimately however, a healthy lifestyle may prove to be the best way to increase emphysema life expectancy and reduce symptoms. Stopping smoking immediately can put a quick stop to emphysema and COPD signs and symptoms, and also reduce the risk of developing more serious symptoms like coughing up blood and shortness of breath. Increasing exercise and a healthy diet when combined with eliminating smoking can prove to be the healthiest way to reduce the risk of death from emphysema.