The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Stages of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease, meaning that it continues to worsen as time goes on. For nearly all people who develop COPD the disease is terminal and will be with them for the rest of their life. Although this is a dire prognosis, there are ways to combat the disease, and the first way is understanding the progression of COPD.
The least severe form of the disease is COPD Stage 1. This stage is also called mild COPD, and the symptoms and treatments are the least aggressive. A major sign that a person has COPD is the capacity of his or her lungs is decreased. Due to constant inflammation of the airways, COPD patients struggle to breathe properly. They have difficulty blowing out air with any force, and the overall volume of air they can hold in their lungs is diminished.
Symptoms of Mild COPD
- Chronic coughing
- Sputum: coughing up mucus
- Dyspnea: breathing discomfort
- Shortness of breath
Patients that seek medical assistance from a physician are occasionally prescribed a short-acting bronchodilator to help increase airflow to the lungs. Given the major damage done by smoking with COPD, a plan is always recommended. Likewise, it is also recommended to monitor environmental factors to keep dust, air pollution and other particles out of the lungs.
As the disease progresses, so do the symptoms as well as a decrease in lung function. In stage 2 of the disease, a patient will see their pulmonary function test results worsen. They will also notice the additional symptom of chest tightness. Also, the addition of long-acting bronchodilators are used for treatment.
Stage 3 COPD is similar to the previous stage with a few changes in wellness. In stage 3 the patient will experience an even less lung functioning. Also, suffers my notice the addition of unintended weight loss and frequent respiratory infections. Additional treatment options typically include the prescription of glucocorticosteroids and participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation class.
The final stage, or end stage, of the disease is COPD Stage 4. In this stage, people can expect to see lung functioning drop to nearly 30 percent. Supplemental oxygen is typically a definite fixture for the rest of the patient’s life as some of them drop below 90 percent oxygen saturation rates in their blood stream. Stage 4 COPD is commonly when patients seek more advanced treatment options like surgery. Alternative treatment options are also available in the form of stem cell therapy. Some innovative companies are utilizing the stem cells in the patient’s blood or fat to slow down the progression of the disease. Although this treatment option is not a cure, it can greatly increase quality of life.
If you or a loved one has developed any stage of COPD, know that there is help out there. You don’t need to simply accept that there is nothing that can be done to treat or ward off the progression of the disease. If you want to learn more about treatment options, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065 today.