How Long Can We Live With Stage 4 COPD

If you look up this question online, you will get different answers from health professionals. Every website I have looked at has a different answer. On one site, it says 5.8 years; on another, ten years. Another says upward of 20. So which is it?

One thing that I have learned over the years in my Alpha-1 journey is that we have no set time of death stamped on us, even if the doctors have said we do.

Defying the odds

When I was first diagnosed 14 years ago at the end of 3/beginning of stage 4 COPD, I was told by one of my doctors that I probably had maybe two years left to live or until transplant. Here I am, 14 years later, still trucking along with the same lung function I had back then.

We never know when our time will end. No sense in worrying about it. Let's just enjoy the time we have.

I remember hearing at a conference one time that most of us would pass away due to something other than COPD. So, we may never know what we will die from or when.

Heck, we could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Well, let's hope not, but you know what I mean.

Understanding stage 4 COPD

How does someone know if they are at stage 4? Gold 4 (Very Severe): Less than 30%

Group D (GOLD 3 or 4): It's extremely hard for you to breathe in or out.

You've had at least two flare-ups in the past year, or you've been hospitalized at least once. Doctors call this
"end-stage" COPD. That means you have very little lung function.

I know a lot of us here feel that we are in this category, but don't let this discourage you. We are all different and decline at different rates.

I have many stage 4 COPD friends who have been at that stage for over 20 years. Looking at my friends who have been at this stage for so long gives me hope that my journey is far from over.

COPD lung function staging and coping strategies

They go by many different things for lung function staging, so it is sometimes hard to even know where you are. Just like every day is different for us. One day, we may be sure to walk 100 feet; the next day, we might not be able to.

So, what are some of the things that we can do to slow down the progression of COPD if we haven't already:

  • Stop smoking
  • Take the appropriate medications
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Start pulmonary rehab
  • Have a great mindset
  • Have a safe living and work environment if you are working
  • Wear your oxygen as prescribed
  • Get support from our community, in person and Facebook groups

Embracing life fully

In conclusion, we should not dwell on when our time will be up. I think we should just try to live the best we can by being as healthy as we can and learning everything we can so we can advocate for ourselves. Enjoy what we can do by getting out and doing as much as possible.

Are you at stage 4 COPD? How long have you been there? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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