15 doctors weighed in:
Could emphysema and COPD continue to progress after you stop smoking for 40 years?
15 doctors weighed in

Dr. Hesham Hassaballa
Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Critical Care
5 doctors agree
In brief: Usually not, but...
Once you stop smoking, the destruction from the smoking stops.
But, the decline in lung function does not. Everyone loses lung function with aging. But those who have COPD may lose that function at a faster rate, even if they stop smoking. Does that mean they should continue to smoke? No!

In brief: Usually not, but...
Once you stop smoking, the destruction from the smoking stops.
But, the decline in lung function does not. Everyone loses lung function with aging. But those who have COPD may lose that function at a faster rate, even if they stop smoking. Does that mean they should continue to smoke? No!
Dr. Hesham Hassaballa
Dr. Hesham Hassaballa
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Brian Fishman
Emergency Medicine
4 doctors agree
In brief: Yes, but...
Although the changes of emphysema and COPD are generally irreversible, the rate of decline of lung function is less when you stop smoking compared to when you are smoking.
In addition smoking cessation is recommended because it reduces the risk of death from other smoking-related conditions such as heart attacks and strokes and many cancers.

In brief: Yes, but...
Although the changes of emphysema and COPD are generally irreversible, the rate of decline of lung function is less when you stop smoking compared to when you are smoking.
In addition smoking cessation is recommended because it reduces the risk of death from other smoking-related conditions such as heart attacks and strokes and many cancers.
Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman
Answer assisted by Brian Fishman, Medical Student
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1 comment
Dr. Sanober Butt
We all loose lung function with age regardless if we smoke or not. Although people who smoke loose lung function at a fast pace depending on their genetic susceptibility to smoking. Once some one quits smoking lung function decline is slower as compared to an active smoker but it may take years for it to go back to nonsmoker level of decline in lung function. Depending on when u quit smoking and what was your lung function at that age you may continue to experience symptoms and COPD may continue to progress. COPD is an inflammatory process which is triggered by smoking but may not necessarily stop when u stop smoking.
Dr. Thomas Stern
Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Critical Care
2 doctors agree
In brief: Copd progression
Yes it is possible for COPD to progress even after you stop smoking.
There are genetic diseases and exposures that can cause COPD independent of smoking.

In brief: Copd progression
Yes it is possible for COPD to progress even after you stop smoking.
There are genetic diseases and exposures that can cause COPD independent of smoking.
Dr. Thomas Stern
Dr. Thomas Stern
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Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine
In brief: Yes...
Emphysema, a form of copd, is a slowly progressive disease that has no cure.
Smoking cessation slows the progression of disease but doesn't stop disease progression. If your oxygen level is low enough, supplemental oxygen is prescribed and this helps to decreases morbidity and mortality rates. Smoking cessation also decreases your risk of lung cancer. See your doctor so treatment can be initiated.

In brief: Yes...
Emphysema, a form of copd, is a slowly progressive disease that has no cure.
Smoking cessation slows the progression of disease but doesn't stop disease progression. If your oxygen level is low enough, supplemental oxygen is prescribed and this helps to decreases morbidity and mortality rates. Smoking cessation also decreases your risk of lung cancer. See your doctor so treatment can be initiated.
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Dr. Sue Ferranti
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