The life expectancy for someone with emphysema depends on many factors. That said, emphysema is not typically diagnosed until there is 40 to 50 percent lung damage, which is stage 2 or 3 emphysema. Therefore, the prognosis of emphysema is not favorable. The average life expectancy for someone with emphysema is five years. Your life expectancy drops to two years, however, if you don’t seek treatment and/or you do not quit smoking [source: Health Information Directory]. Intensive intervention is necessary to improve your quality of life and to extend your duration of life.

The severity of emphysema is measured in different stages. Put simply, the less severe the condition is, the greater the life expectancy. People with mild, stage 1 emphysema actually have a normal life expectancy, if they quit smoking. People with moderate to severe, stage 2 and 3 emphysema, have a life expectancy of five years or more with intensive treatments. People with end-stage, stage 4 emphysema, have little time to live, even with treatment [source: No More Smokes].

There are also other factors that greatly contribute to the life expectancy of someone with emphysema. First, weight and overall health are important factors. You should maintain a healthy body weight with a proper diet and regular exercise. Second, if you have other chronic conditions, such as HIV or connective tissue disorders in addition to emphysema, your life expectancy will be reduced. Third, emphysema also exacerbates other health concerns, such as diabetes and heart problems. Complications due to diabetes and/or heart problems may eventually cause death. Fourth, you should also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and other hazardous fumes and dust to improve your life expectancy. Simply inhaling indoor fumes, such as heating fuel, or outdoor fumes, such as car exhaust, can complicate your condition [source: Mayo Clinic].