A patient's emphysema prognosis depends on follow-up treatment after the initial diagnosis.
The average emphysema life expectancy depends on various factors, the most important being the stage of the illness.
Emphysema is a respiratory illness in which the air sacs of the lungs become over-inflated. The stage of the illness when the diagnosis is made is important for emphysema treatment and life expectancy. My mum was diagnosed some 15 years ago, so four years is certainly nonsense if all the anecdotes here are anything to go by! Is the life expectancy for someone with subcutaneous emphysema the same as for someone with regular emphysema?
I think that my grandfather was the exception to the rule of typical life expectancy with emphysema. Nearly all countries collect data on life expectancy as it allows them to analyze the lifespan of a newborn and gives an indication of the overall health of the population.
Life expectancy of human beings means the number of years a human being is going to live and it is taken on an average basis. Pancreatic cancer is actually quite a devastating disease and the life expectancy for people with this life threatening condition is very low. Alcoholism is a disorder in people who are compelled to drink everyday and also alcoholics always drink too much than their body can take. Secondary bone cancer refers to cancer that actually originates in some other part of the body but finds it way to the bones.
Emphysema is a progressive loss of lung tissue and is invariably caused by cigarette smoking.
Emphysema is a chronic disorder caused by the gradual destruction of the alveoli, or the air sacs in the lungs, causing breathing difficulty and shortness of breath.
What usually happens in emphysema is that the linings of the alveoli become thinner over time. Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a protein naturally found in the body, and it acts by preventing white blood cells from attacking and destroying normal cells and tissues.
It is not known how many people develop emphysema because of this condition, but people who suffer from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency often develop emphysema at a younger age.
Emphysema is also linked with air pollution, but emphysema caused by air pollution may take years to develop. The main symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath, which worsens as the disease becomes severe [3].
Emphysema patients also suffer from persistent cough, which may be productive (with sputum) or non-productive (without sputum) [7]. This is experienced due to difficulty in breathing and tightness caused by the overinflated lungs.
This is important in moderate to severe cases of emphysema because the physical symptoms are more evident.
Computed tomography, or CT scan, can show air holes in the alveoli, which is the main cause for the difficulty in breathing.
There are two ways to classify the stages of emphysema- the GOLD staging system and the BODE index [2]. This staging system is created by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, and is the most commonly used staging system for emphysema.


The BODE index assesses the effect of emphysema in multiple aspects of the patient’s life which affect the life expectancy of each patient.
The higher the BODE index score, the lower the chance of being cured from the disease is lower. The prognosis of emphysema may be different from patient to patient, but the staging system, especially the BODE index, can generalize how well a patient can improve from the disease. While emphysema cannot be cured, there are still ways of improving the symptoms experienced during emphysema. Aside from medications, the patient can also undergo pulmonary rehabilitation, which includes breathing techniques and exercises. Those who are diagnosed in the earlier stages may extend their life expectancy with medical treatment and lifestyle changes. However, at any given time, life expectancy can fall because of disease, famine, war or poor health. Life expectancy is affected by many factors and it varies from place of the world to another. When a cancerous tumor develops in some organ, the cancerous cells break away from this organ and make their way to the bone leading to the development of secondary bone cancer. It has been seen that secondary lung cancer invariably develops from an adjacent or nearby organ like the thyroid, esophagus or thymus. When a person suffers from emphysema, the lung tissue loses it ability to oxygenate blood and this can increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.
It is referred to as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), along with chronic bronchitis [1]. In addition, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are ranked fourth in the leading causes of mortality in the USA [2]. Air holes are formed, where the air inhaled becomes trapped, making it difficult to breathe it out. The smoke from cigarettes can be inhaled deep into the alveoli, causing damage to these air sacs [4]. In fact, research has proved that people who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at higher risk of having emphysema than the smokers themselves [2]. Genetic problems cause this protein to become deficient, causing white blood cells to attack normal lung tissue. At first, the patient becomes breathless after doing an activity, but in advanced stages, breathlessness is experienced even when the patient is at rest [2]. The chest area becomes literally barrel-shaped because the ribs expand due to over-inflation of the lungs.
It may be heard during inhaling, exhaling or both, but most commonly, it is heard during the early part of exhaling [6]. Barrel-shaped chest, cyanosis or blue lips, and malnutrition can be seen through direct observation. It is based on the amount of air forcefully exhaled by a person within one second, known as the forced expiratory volume (FEV1). Statistics on life expectancy for emphysema should therefore be only considered as reference rather than a rule. Upon diagnosis of the condition, clinical tests will provide an estimate for a patient's life expectancy, though the prognosis also depends on the follow-up treatment.
Those who smoke are at the highest risk of developing the disease, as are those who have a very low body weight.


If emphysema is caused by a lung infection, medications are available and can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. In December I had a severe flare up of respiratory distress, hospitalized and diagnosed with severe COPD. I have just been told I am at stage 3 and my prognosis is three years max, after not smoking for a year.
In the United States, people die earlier and spend more time on a wheelchair compared to people in other developed countries. However, it can also develop from another organ where the cancerous cells are carried either by the vascular system or lymphatic system as is commonly seen with renal or testicular cancer spreading to the lungs. A person suffering from emphysema initially shows symptoms of shortness of breath, faces problems performing physical activities, has chronic cough with sputum and wheezing, suffers from weight loss and has a barrel chest.
Drugs can be given to help in smoking cessation, such as bupoprion hydrochloride and varenicline [3]. Examples include albuterol and ipratropium, which are short-acting, and salmeterol, formoterol and titropium, which are long-acting. However, prolonged use of corticosteroids leads to increased blood pressure and weak bones, as well as diabetes and cataracts [3]. In lung volume reduction, damaged parts of the lung are sliced off, allowing the remaining functional parts to work more efficiently.
A device, called a spirometer, calculates the amount of air a patient can exhale per second.
Those with stage one or mild emphysema have a life expectancy as any normal, healthy individual. Elderly men are also found to develop the disease more often than other demographic groups. It is always best to consult with expert doctors with questions about quality of life and life expectancy with emphysema. Those with emphysema are usually only capable of exhaling less than half the amount of air of a normal, healthy person. Majority of those (60-70%) with stage two, or moderate, emphysema live more than five years after diagnosis.
Those who fit into these categories and experience considerable coughing, excess phlegm production, and difficulty breathing are encouraged to see a medical professional for a checkup. If it is a much advanced stage, then they are at the edge of their life and death can occur at any time. Treatment for emphysema involves reducing symptoms and preventing the condition from progressing further. He then smoked for a couple of years after when the stress of my daughter's cancer got to him, because smoking helped.
A good pulmonologist and following instructions will keep you going a whole lot longer than that.




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