Approximately 80 percent of the patients with mild emphysema lived more than four years after the diagnosis.
Prognosis. There is no cure for emphysema. But the condition can be controlled. People with mild emphysema who quit smoking have a normal life expectancy.
You can't reverse emphysema damage, and it'll gradually get worse. However, you can manage the symptoms with treatment and slow down the effects of emphysema. In addition to treatment, you'll breathe easier if you follow tips that prevent respiratory infections.
How Serious Is Your Emphysema? Stage 1 is also called mild emphysema. But that doesn't mean your disease is mild. You could have significant lung damage before you even notice the breathing problems of stage 1, especially if you're relatively young and otherwise healthy.
It takes several years to progress to the final stages of COPD or emphysema, but lifestyle factors play a role. Quitting smoking can significantly improve the outlook. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute , COPD can progress quickly in people with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency who also smoke.
Emphysema continues to progress even after people stop smoking. However, quitting smoking helps reduce symptoms and improve quality of life and life expectancy.
The goal of therapy for emphysema is to provide relief of symptoms, prevent complications and slow the progression of the disease. Quitting smoking is also essential for patients with emphysema, since continuing to use tobacco will only further damage the lungs.
Emphysema gets worse over time. You cannot undo the damage to your lungs. Over time, you may find that: You get short of breath even when you do things like get dressed or fix a meal.
Further, by stretching muscles that are not regularly used, including the breathing muscles, everyday activities such as walking will become easier and lung function will improve. While exercise may seem overwhelming at first, even walking at a very slow pace will benefit your overall quality of life.
When a person has stage 1 COPD, their symptoms may be so mild that they do not even realize that they have it. Over time, symptoms can include shortness of breath, chronic cough, and frequent respiratory infections. These will generally become more severe as the condition progresses.
“COPD by itself can cause a lot of fatigue,” says Amy Attaway, MD, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “It really comes down to the fact that your body has to work harder than for a person who doesn't have the condition,” she says.
"It's not a death sentence by any means. Many people will live into their 70s, 80s, or 90s with COPD.” But that's more likely, he says, if your case is mild and you don't have other health problems like heart disease or diabetes.
Especially if your COPD is diagnosed early, if you have mild stage COPD, and your disease is well managed and controlled, you may be able to live for 10 or even 20 years after diagnosis.
If you're young and otherwise healthy, you could have severe lung damage and still be at stage 2. On the other hand, if you're older, especially over age 65, moderate breathing problems can seriously interfere with basic daily tasks like dressing, cooking, or climbing stairs.
While lung tissue cells do regenerate, there's no way a smoker can return to having the lungs of a non-smoker. At best, they will carry a few scars from their time smoking, and at worst, they're stuck with certain breathing difficulties for the rest of their lives.
Pulmonary emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is most commonly seen in patients over 60 years of age who smoke (1). Early-onset pulmonary emphysema is defined as a disease onset before the 55 years of age with or without a smoking history (2).
Exposure to chemicals, exposure to secondhand smoke, both indoor and outdoor pollution, and respiratory infections can also cause emphysema.
Strengthening exercises for the upper body are especially helpful for people with COPD, as they help increase the strength of your respiratory muscles.
It's possible to have emphysema for many years without noticing any symptoms. This is because symptoms usually begin gradually, and we have been designed to have more lung function than we need. Eventually enough of the lung becomes damaged and symptoms will begin to appear.
If you have advanced emphysema, your lungs will appear to be much larger than they should be. In early stages of the disease, your chest X-ray may look normal. Your doctor can't diagnose emphysema with an X-ray alone. A CT scan of your chest will show if the air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs have been destroyed.
Studies suggest that those with stage one or two (mild and moderate) COPD who smoke lose a few years of life expectancy at the age of 65. For those with stages three or four (severe and very severe) COPD, they lose from six to nine years of life expectancy due to smoking.