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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 19321
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Dear Doctor, my Mum was taken to hospital with low oxygen levels.

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Dear Doctor, my Mum was taken to hospital with low oxygen levels. She had a CT scan to look for tumours or blood clot but thankfully they found nothing like that although she has lung damage due to TB she had as a teenager many years ago. They have discharged her from hospital but she now needs to be on oxygen for 16 hours a day and she is 79 years old. My question is how long can people live with this condition. Does this mean my Mum's life expectancy is shorter?
Very worried daughter
Thank you in anticipation.
Hello from JustAnswer. The current level of low oxygen is not a good predictor of life expectancy. Seeing trends over longer periods of time would be more meaningful. However, if the only problem with the lungs is the damage that she sustained from an infection as a teenager, it must be getting very gradually worse, since it is only now causing problems 60 years later. This would suggest that it will continue to only get gradually worse, so many people will live years after they get to the point that they need oxygen supplementation. The other issue, though, with damaged lungs that have now gotten to the point that oxygen is needed is that she is more sensitive to acute respiratory infections. If she were to get pneumonia or bronchitis, she has less respiratory reserve, so a milder infection may cause more significant respiratory distress. It is common for someone with chronic lung disease to die from an acute infection, rather than the gradual worsening of the underlying lung disease. Since it can never be predicted when someone will get such an infection, it is not as easy to predict when this will impact on life expectancy. It is worth noting, though, that this would make it more important to follow the recommendations for preventing acute respiratory infections, particularly vaccinations for pneumonia and influenza. These are recommended for everyone of her age, but are more important for someone with chronic lung disease. But if she can avoid respiratory infections, she may live for years on oxygen supplementation. If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.
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