COPD Stages

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD kills countless people in the United States every year and it has no cure. Caused mainly by smoking, the early identification of this disease helps is crucial in controlling the symptoms. Also, the medicine prescribed for the disease largely depends on the stage the disease is in.

In the initial stage of the COPD, any obvious symptoms may not be visible in the patient’s body. However, the patient may experience symptoms such as cough or excessive sputum. Often, the patient experiences minimal shortness of breath. If detected in the early stages, COPD can largely be controlled by immediately stopping the consumption of tobacco. This stage is called stage 0. This stage is considered as the “Risk Stage”

In stage 1, the patient may experience severe breathlessness on a regular basis. But, it will not affect his daily life, as the periods of breathlessness are short lived. This is considered to be a mild stage. In this stage, the lung function of the patient is equal to or better than 50% of the lungs function of a healthy adult of the same age. Here, functions of the lungs are tested with a spirometer. Mild COPD can be treated with short acting inhaled beta-agonists.

In stage 2, the performance of the lungs drops down to 30% to 40%. This is the stage where the disease actually starts affecting daily life as the periods of breathlessness are more frequent and continue for long durations. This stage is considered to be a ‘moderate’ stage and can be treated with one or more bronchodilators or inhaled anticholinergics.

In stage 3, the performing level of the affected lungs drops below an alarming 35%. As the intensity of the disease increases, the quality of life decreases rapidly. The patient is now affected more and more by severe breathlessness. This stage is considered to be severe. In many cases, it can be life threatening. Severe COPD can be treated with one or more bronchodilators, inhaled glucocorticosteroids, and inhaled anticholinergics.

The earlier the symptoms of COPD are detected, the better it is for the patient. Although COPD cannot be completely cured, it can certainly be controlled well, if detected. The best advice to avoid the probability of COPD is — Don’t Smoke!