The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Your doctor just shared the following with you: “You have end-stage lung disease.” When you hear the words, end stage, to describe something, you know it can’t be a good thing. Unfortunately, the term “end stage” has become synonymous with “terminal.” For the majority of people, end stage brings to mind a picture of doom and gloom, which stops short of death. That is if you are an optimist and a glass half full type of person. But does end stage depict the end of the road or can there be hope at the end of the tunnel? What does it mean when you have end-stage lung disease?
End-stage Lung Disease 101
To be perfectly honest, end-stage is used to describe the most severe form of a disease. And thus, it is true when it comes to end-stage lung disease. This disease state does not happen overnight. It developed over time and the individual chose, 9 times out of 10, to downplay or ignore the symptoms. With a diagnosis of end-stage lung disease, people might experience a range of symptoms such as increasing instances and severity of shortness of breath, cough, wheezing and production of sputum, which can sometimes be tinged with blood.
End-stage lung disease can occur with most every type. Nevertheless, the majority of sufferers have stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is an umbrella term that is also used to describe emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
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 a person quake in their shoes with the knowledge that not only is a donor match needed but you will need to remain on anti-rejection medication for the rest of your life. There are also many do’s and don’ts to follow post-transplant surgery.
But another option that few know about is stem cell therapy. In a nutshell, stem cells work by promoting the healing of tissue. While not curing end-stage COPD, this treatment option can actually minimize symptoms and thus improve quality of life. Of course, lifestyle changes can also help a person live with an end-stage lung disease diagnosis so that it doesn’t need to be viewed as a death sentence. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the following are the recommended tips for those dealing with end-stage lung disease:
- Stop smoking
- Avoid factors that might irritate the lungs
- Manage your disease
- Prepare for emergencies
If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options for end-stage lung disease, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.