The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Talking About the Final Stage of COPD
November is National COPD Awareness Month and all month long we have been talking about a number of articles discussing the effects of COPD. With such a chronic lung disease, there is a darker side to the condition that does have to be discussed. COPD has no cure and many sufferers will ultimately succumb to the effects of this disease. Let’s go ahead and clear the air though, when talking about the role of COPD, there is the unfortunate fact that death will occur at some point in the span of the patient’s condition. Leaving behind an impact that effects friends and family alike, this is the role of COPD and death.
Is There A Life Expectancy With COPD?
There is no quick answer or rule when diagnosing the life expectancy of COPD. Having such a severe and progressive lung disease will shorten your lifespan, but this depends on a number of variables, like the overall health of a person. One method that doctors and researchers have developed for measuring life expectancy is with the GOLD System. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease developed a measurement system that helps track the progression of COPD by stages. Here are the stages:
- Stage 1 – very mild COPD
- Stage 2 – moderate COPD
- Stage 3 – severe emphysema/chronic bronchitis
- Stage 4 – very severe COPD
Understanding the End Stage of COPD
Known as the end-stage, Stage 4 COPD is the progression of the disease to the point that oxygen support is constantly needed. Lung function has almost completely depleted and frequent flare-ups can become life threatening. Coughing, shortness of breath and constant wheezing become a daily ritual and almost always reduce a person’s energy. This final step of COPD is usually the last that a patient may experience.
Many people who are faced with the knowledge that they have end-stage lung disease are told that their only option is lung transplantation. The thought of a lung transplant can make many unsure if it will even happen, but this usually the last chance patients have while dealing with COPD. Another option that few know about is stem cell therapy, which uses stem cells to promote the healing of lung tissue.
Of course, by avoiding smoke and other lung irritants like pollution and chemicals, pulmonary rehabilitation classes can help you navigate your way through the effects of end-stage COPD. Also, learning to be prepared for emergencies can limit a dangerous COPD flare-ups. If you follow the right treatment plan and are aware of the signs, COPD Stage 4 can be managed.
Of course, if you are looking for an alternative treatment for COPD, then the Lung Institute might be able to help! If you or someone you love would like know more about treatment options, feel free to contact one of our patient care coordinators today or call (800) 729-3065 today.