Being diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases is not necessarily a death sentence. If you've been diagnosed with severe COPD, your doctor might give you a vague prognosis if it doesn't look like you will have much longer to live. Even so, someone with severe COPD will likely live much longer than predicted, especially if he or she makes healthy lifestyle changes. If you have mild COPD and you continue with the unhealthy habits that lead to this disease, you will likely not live as long as someone who takes the steps to treat themselves and live a healthier life.
COPD has been referred to as “the silent killer”, since many people don't know that they have it until it has become severe. It's also the third biggest killer of both men and women in the United States, preceded by cancer as number 2 and heart diseases as number 1. It's estimated that 120,000 people die from COPD each year, according to the National Institutes of Health – that means 1 person dies from COPD every 4 minutes. COPD also causes other conditions that bring down your quality of life, if you aren't taking care of yourself.
Things that Shorten Life with COPD
The things that shorten your life by contributing to and worsening your COPD, are the same things that end up shortening the lives of people without this disease – having COPD only speeds up the process. Smoking cigarettes is the main thing that shortens lives and causes COPD to progress into the most severe end stages. Living around a lot of smokers will also have the same effect as smoking a pack a day.
You might not have smoked throughout your life, or might have just smoked socially every now and then, but COPD can be developed and worsened by exposure to pollution and poor air quality. For example, people who work in factories with a lot of smoke and other tiny debris in the air are more likely to die from a chronic lung disease, as well as people who live in cities with a lot of pollution and high ozone levels.
The stage at which your disease is diagnosed will also help determine how long you will live afterward. If you are lucky enough to discover that you have COPD in a mild stage, you will have the chance to stop smoking and avoid poor air quality so that the disease won't be able to advance. If you've been diagnosed with a mild case of COPD and you are older than 75, your life expectancy is decreased because of the loss of lung function from advanced years, with the addition of COPD.
What You Need to Do
Using oxygen therapy will help tremendously if you have moderate to severe COPD, which your doctor will prescribe to you. You will need to use your oxygen therapy exactly as your doctor advises, since you need to replace the oxygen in your blood. Quitting smoking as quickly as you can will also ensure that you live longer than you would have.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.