Copd life expectancy is a subject that sufferers from the illness very often find hard to discuss. The acronym COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; it is by definition an extremely serious illness that affects a vast number of people. In fact, it is the fourth largest terminal illness in the United States.
Inhalation of noxious gasses
When the disease occurs it is normally due to the onset of either emphysema or chronic bronchitis, with sufferers feeling short of breath due to these co-existing diseases narrowing their airways. COPD is mostly brought about by the inhalation of noxious gasses, most commonly tobacco smoking that produces this abnormality in lung function. To enable a physician to effectively diagnose COPD a series of lung function tests must be carried out, only after this can the diagnosis be confirmed.
Facts About COPD Life Expectancy
Regarding the subject of copd life expectancy, as with any serious illness there are a many different factors that need to be considered; as a result the outcome or life expectancy will be different for each person. Often some of the following strategies are introduced to help manage the illness and extend the copd life expectancy period:
- Drug therapy
- Oxygen therapy
- Lung transplantation
Notwithstanding the positive effect that many of the above strategies can have to improve the copd life expectancy, the biggest single course of action that will help is for the individual to give up smoking. 30 Years ago copd was ranked as the sixth most likely cause of death; however due to an increase in smoking habits and also that the illness is now getting diagnosed more often it is projected to have risen to the fourth most likely cause of death by the year 2030. In America the figures are even more disturbing with it being the third most likely cause of death; accounting for something like 120,000 lives each year, it is believed that over time this figure may even worsen.
Increased Difficulty Breathing
Any respiratory illness with have a major effect on the wellbeing of an individual and copd is no different in that respect. The person will notice that they have increased difficulty in breathing in and out; this is known as an airway obstruction. The following represents the sequence of events that occur in the majority of individuals:
- The lungs become inflamed due to the irritation from the tobacco smoke.
- The inflammation leads to permanent damage to the lung tissue.
- Increased levels of mucus are produced, due to the increased thickness in the walls of the airways.
- The walls of the lungs air sacs are damaged as a result; this damage prevents the lungs from having their normal elasticity.
- During normal activity it becomes much more difficult for the individual to breathe, this is exacerbated during exercise.
The lung damage can never be reversed; however, an individual can help to extend their own copd life expectancy by taking some positive steps.
The consulting physician will, when asked, provide their thoughts on the individual’s copd life expectancy, with the different stages being discussed as follows:
- Mild copd – This is known as stage 1 and describes a chronic cough that brings up an element of mucus from the lungs
- Moderate copd – This stage combines an increased level of mucus with the shortening of breath; more often this shortness of breath is brought about from exercise, this is referred to as stage 2 copd.
- Severe copd – Stage 3 sees the individual suffering from fatigue and a reduced ability to exercise. It is likely that the copd sufferer will see an increase in the levels of copd flare ups.
- Very severe copd – A combination of the other 3 stages plus the possibility of weight loss and the buildup of fluid in the legs and feet. The lips, toes and fingers can often appear to have a blue tint to them. This stage of the illness will feature some life threatening copd flare ups.
Positive Lifestyle Changes to Improve COPD Life Expectancy
As detailed earlier, the biggest way that an individual can have a positive impact on their copd life expectancy is to totally give up smoking. Providing it is caught early enough then there are circumstances that will allow the sufferer of this disease to live just as long as anyone else; however, it must be stressed that cigarettes are given up with immediate effect.
Other ways to improve the copd life expectancy are by doing either or both of the following:
- Exercise – Whilst the thought of taking on exercise might well horrify the copd sufferer, due of course to the difficulties that they will face just breathing during normal circumstances; it is very likely that they will be on a course of inhalers to assist with this issue. Any exercise, no matter how light is seen as a positive action that can help with the symptoms of copd.
- Diet – This is another very important area, where changing to a healthier and more balanced diet can have huge implications in the copd life expectancy.
In many cases the COPD patient may be overweight, the positive lifestyle changes that are shown above can really help to improve the overall quality of life and help the COPD suffer to limit their breathing issues.
As with all serious respiratory illnesses, when things worsen a doctor or physician might well talk about an end stage; copd life expectancy is no different to this. For many people this end stage will be something that confirms that their illness will lead to death in the very near future, this is perhaps one of the most compelling reasons as to why people will find it difficult to discuss copd life expectancy.
Never Give Up
On a much more positive note there have been many cases where an individual had been diagnosed as being in end stage copd, only to find that for whatever reason they managed to live a much longer life. Whilst as discussed earlier, the damage to the lung tissue cannot be reversed, it doesn’t always mean that things are going to be as bad as first indicated. There was one particular report on the internet that detailed a father being diagnosed with COPD only to find that he outlived his prognosis by some fifteen years. When asked about his story he replied “I never allowed myself to believe the diagnosis”.