Stages of COPD Life Expectancy
COPD Stages and Prognosis
Let’s go ahead and clear the air, shall we? When talking about the role of chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), there is the unfortunate fact that death will occur at some point in the span of the patient’s condition. This post is meant to highlight an all too common question that gets asked by patients: What are the stages of COPD and life expectancy?
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
Stages of COPD Life Expectancy
The disorder begins in stage 1, with mild symptoms:
- Chronic coughing
- Sputum: coughing up mucus
- Dyspnea: breathing discomfort
- Shortness of breath
Stage 2 of COPD occurs when the symptoms listed above worsen due to the continued decline in lung function. In stage 2 of the disease, a patient will see their pulmonary function test results worsen. They will also notice the additional symptom of chest tightness. Long-acting bronchodilators are often introduced at this point to help alleviate this chest tightness. Long-acting bronchodilators don’t offer immediate relief, however, they do help a person breathe easier over a longer period of time.
Eventually stage 2 COPD will likely progress into stage 3. Stage 3 is when lung function further declines, causing the symptoms listed above to become even worse. Added symptoms at this stage include unintended weight loss and frequent respiratory infections. Additional treatment precautions might be added at this point, including daily medications and participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation class.
The final phase of COPD is stage 4, the most severe stage. A person in stage 4 of COPD will experience the most reduced quality of life because of shortness of breath. Trouble breathing might even be life threatening during some episodes. PFT results will typically be less than 30 percent. COPD is a serious condition that has a huge impact on a person’s life. Symptoms take a while to develop, and may not be noticeable until the disorder is well developed.
COPD Treatment Options
For those who have been diagnosed with COPD, the main goals of treatment are: symptom relief, slow down decline in lung function, improve daily lung function, decrease number of acute episodes (aka COPD exacerbations) and improvement in overall quality of life. Many COPD sufferers use supplemental oxygen along with daily medications to manage symptoms. For those with more developed stages of COPD, more serious measures like a lung transplant or reduction might be an option. There is, however, a minimally invasive, alternative treatment that helps most lung disease sufferers. Stem cell therapy might help slow the development of lung disease and even improve it. Rather than managing symptoms like oxygen and medications, stem cell therapy harnesses your body’s natural healing abilities, essentially healing the lung tissue. While stem cell therapy is not a cure, it is an effective treatment that might provide lung disease sufferers with a much greater quality of life.
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.