What Does It Mean To Have Decreased Lung Capacity?

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Asked by Kathy Krumbine

What does it mean to only have 30 percent of my lung capacity?


30 percent lung capacity, as you may have guessed, is not great. It means your lungs are functioning only a third as well as a healthy person's. This will be determined by Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs), which are used to assess lung size and air flow. Although lung capacity varies by age and gender, it can be drastically decreased by respiratory conditions like COPD and asthma.

If you're wondering how long someone can survive with such a lung capacity, the answer is we're just not sure. Having such low reserves means it might be very difficult for you to weather any respiratory infections. A bad cold might progress to pneumonia and do you in. On the other hand, it might not. You can compare some of your symptoms to the end stages of COPD in this article — you may or may not be as bad off as you think.

And if you stay otherwise healthy, you might go on for some time. The body has a remarkable ability to adapt. Sure, you might not be able to do as much or to do it without considerable effort anyway, but if you are on continuous supplemental oxygen (as I'm sure you are), it can help keep your lungs going and improve the quality of your life considerably.

Ultimately, you'll want to talk with your doctor about your personal health situation. That's where you'll be able to get the most clarity, as he/she knows you and your health history.

Answered by Kathi MacNaughton