To be honest about it, emphysema life expectancy is not very encouraging. This disease affects a person progressively and it is irreversible and thus life expectancy because of emphysema is certainly affected. Alternative treatments may however offer some help. Not only humans, emphysema attacks animals too. For example, canine emphysema is not that uncommon.
Prior to antibiotics, infection in the lungs, particularly by the tubercular bacilli that caused pulmonary tuberculosis could not be cured – doctors merely described the disorder as a “wasting disease”. Even today, after the invention of multi-powered drugs, TB remains as one of the toughest diseases to be fully cured.
Emphysema, which also involves the lungs, is yet another difficult to cure disease. As a matter of fact, modern day medics cannot cure it at all. While pulmonary tuberculosis is manageable with highly potent antibiotics that can eventually kill the bacilli before the bacilli can kill the patient, no antibiotic can repair the holes in the lungs that has been caused by the alveoli. And this is the tragedy of emphysema.
The Emphysema Disease And Its Life Expectancy
Emphysema is a chronic and progressive pulmonary (lung) disorder and it is characterized by breathing symptoms that include shortness of breath, difficulties in breathing and a feeling of being winded during exertion. Though the symptoms in emphysema and chronic bronchitis are more or less similar, emphysema’s breathing trouble is a unique and singular phenomenon.
Studies reveal that emphysema is more prevalent in men above the age of 65 years. And if someone is diagnosed with the disease at this age, many doctors give the person a maximum of 3 years to live. Children and those in pregnancy can also be a victim. Of course though life expectancy takes a beating here too, but they can expect to live for longer. It can be said that the life expectancy goes down with age. But on the positive side, at least emphysema is not contagious and so there is no risk of the family members getting affected.
The distinguishing symptoms include as much as 35% to 55% damage in the lung tissues, and most of such damage is beyond repair. Based on the results of breathing tests (PFT or the Pulmonary Function Test) there are 4 successive stages of emphysema and they are…
Stage 1 – Mild
Stage 2 – Moderate
Stage 3 – Severe
Stage 4 – Very severe or Terminal
Emphysema Life Expectancy And The Role Of Spirometry
Spirometry is employed to measure the volumes/percentage of exhaled air by the patient in a second. This is medically termed as FEV 1 or Forced Expiratory Volume over one second. This is an important test because it gives the doctor an estimate about the patient’s health status and how long he or she may live. For a normal healthy person, the Spirometer reading will hover between 80 and 100. But for an emphysema patient whose reading is below 35, the person will belong to Stage 4, and this will mean that he or she is not expected to live for long. However, with some information and effective measures, the person will be certainly able to survive for many years.
Diagnostic test results apart, several other factors also help determine emphysema life expectancy. These include the patient’s body weight (lower weight indicates a greater risk), how much he or she can cover before experiencing breathing problems, the ability to resist viral or other infections and others.
To improve emphysema life expectancy, doctors usually prescribe long-term oxygen therapy and this also eases the breathing problems. Small, handy oxygen cylinders can provide 24-hour supply of oxygen, thereby increasing the life expectancy to a great extent. But the key is to act according to the physician’s advice.