Emphysema life expectancy and treatment

Emphysema is a serious lung disease which has severe health symptoms which can lead to a shortened life expectancy. It is a condition that is usually attained at an old age. It is especially common with older men but can affect almost anyone. Over two million people in the United States are currently living with Emphysema. Emphysema can shorten your life but with the proper treatment you can minimize the negative effects the condition has on your life.

Life Expectancy for Emphysema Patients
Usually emphysema is not diagnosed until roughly 40-50% of the lung tissues become damaged. This is definitely an issue as the patient would have reached a point where treatment would be fairly ineffective. An early diagnosis is essential with being able to treat emphysema and maximize your life expectancy. The severity of the condition is measured in stages (stages 1 to 4) and your life expectancy can vary depending on what stage you are in.

A spirometer is necessary for determining the life expectancy of an emphysema patient. For this practice a device is used to measure with the FEV1 test. FEV1 is a term for forced expiratory volume over one second. This measurement is done by calculating the amount of air (as a percentage) which can be exhaled from your lungs in a single second.

Test Results
The results of the FEV1 test will be displayed on the spirometer. A healthy person would have a high percentage for this test as they are capable of exhaling most air from their lungs in a single second. The reading for a healthy person would be anywhere from 80% to 100%. An unhealthy person would have a relatively low percentage for this test as they are not able to exhale much air from their lungs. The reading for an unhealthy person, especially someone with emphysema, will be lower than 35%.

If the spirometer provides a reading of 35% or less then the patient’s life expectancy should be roughly four years from diagnosis. By treating the condition the symptoms can be more subtle and life expectancy could increase so there are many things to factor the amount of time a patient has left.

How Long Should You Expect to Live With Emphysema?
Four years from diagnosis is just a rough estimate but it is on the higher end for most people. If you do not seek treatment for the condition then your life expectancy could drop to as low as two years from diagnosis.

Your life expectancy will also be varied depending on many other factors as well. For instance, your weight and general health can play a major role in how long you are capable of living with emphysema for. If you are underweight then you are at highest risk of a low life expectancy. Your current cardiovascular health can also be a good way to gauge your expected life expectancy.

How to Treat Emphysema
As smoking cigarettes is one of the most common causes for emphysema it would be obvious that you should avoid doing so as much as possible if you are already diagnosed with this condition. You should also avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. You will also want to prevent any exposure to polluted air or environments which can cause further damage or irritation to your lungs.

Treatment is not used to cure the condition as emphysema is an incurable condition. Emphysema treatment is just used to slow down the disease and make your life expectancy as lengthy as possible. It will not have a major impact on your health but you could minimize the severity of symptoms, make living a normal and healthy life much easier, and increase your life expectancy by a few years.

Medical Treatment
The most common form of medical treatment for emphysema patients would be taking medication which is made for emphysema patients. These drugs are not very beneficial for treating your lung function capabilities but they can help minimize or eliminate various symptoms and make living a healthy life much easier. You could also be able to perform certain exercises which require good cardiovascular fitness if you follow the proper treatment.

You definitely should be using medication to treat emphysema as there are many health benefits which the pills will offer. Bronchodilators are most common for treating emphysema but there are other drugs that you could use as well. For instance, antibiotics, vaccines, and glucocorticoids are all useful. However, these drugs are usually used during certain stages. You should speak with your doctor about the appropriate medication for your condition.

Oxygen Therapy
This is another way to help improve your health and make living with emphysema a lot easier. There would be an increase in your life expectancy as well. Oxygen therapy can be used in a variety of ways. You could use it for lengthy periods of time, just while performing a certain activity, or just whenever you are having difficulties breathing properly.

The lengthy and frequent use of emphysema usually requires 15 hours or more of treatment each day. This may be strenuous but it can keep your organs working properly, increase your overall health, and improve your chances of surviving the condition. The long term use of oxygen therapy is most common for emphysema patients in the fourth stage as that is when it would become necessary. You could still use the therapy for short stints during an earlier stage of emphysema if you wish to do so. However, there are many other preferred treatment methods for people in the early stages of emphysema.

Final Thoughts
Emphysema can have dramatic effects on your health and it can lead you to an early death. If you are diagnosed with emphysema then you will need to seek treatment immediately. There are many options for treating the condition if you are in an early stage of emphysema. If this is the case then you should be open-minded about how to treat the condition. People in a later stage of emphysema may be limited to certain severe therapies such as surgery or long term oxygen therapy.

To conclude, if you are diagnosed with emphysema then you should speak with your doctor for a proper prognosis and suggestions on the best treatment methods for you.

Last updated on Mar 17th, 2010 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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