The official blog of the Lung Institute.
As you know, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects everyone differently and at varying rates of progression. Stage 1 COPD or mild stage COPD is categorized by a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of about 80 percent or more of normal lung capacity based on the GOLD System, and stage 2 COPD is categorized with a FEV1 between 50 and 80 percent of normal lung capacity. In fact, there are four total COPD stages. After learning about COPD prognosis and life expectancy, stage 1 and stage 2 COPD, it’s time to take a closer look at stage 3 COPD.
Determining Stage 3 COPD
The COPD stages range from mild to very severe. At this point, you’ve probably had lung function testing, such as pulmonary function tests, spirometry and exercise tolerance testing. Your doctor will perform these types of tests, take a detailed medical history and take into account how COPD affects your life. If you’re in stage 3 COPD, you’re likely experiencing significant symptoms and changes in your pulmonary health and overall condition.
In the GOLD System, stage 3 COPD is categorized as severe COPD with a FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) between 30 and 50 percent of normal lung capacity.
Stage 3 COPD
During stage 3 COPD, you will likely experience significant lung function impairment. Many patients will experience an increase in COPD flare-ups or exacerbations. For some people, the increase in flare-ups means they could need to be hospitalized at times as well.
Increased breathlessness and more fatigue make it difficult to perform daily tasks, enjoy your favorite activities and to exercise. Simply put, people in stage 3 COPD become exhausted more easily. Because COPD is a progressive disease, it will continue to worsen over time. At this stage of COPD, many people see their doctors regularly.
Stage 3 COPD Treatment Options
As your COPD progresses, you’ll likely need to have more pulmonary function tests. Your doctor will use your lung function tests to help keep track of how your lungs are doing and how well your COPD treatments are working. Many doctors compare old pulmonary function tests with more recent ones. Your doctor will also keep track of your overall health. While there isn’t a cure for COPD, treatment options are available.
You and your doctor will continue to work together to manage and reduce your COPD symptoms, prevent flare-ups and modify your treatment plan as needed. The COPD treatments you used in stage 1 COPD or stage 2 COPD might need to be changed when you’re in stage 3 COPD.
Your doctor may prescribe medications, such as combination inhalers, short and long-acting bronchodilators, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.
In addition to these medications and therapies, your doctor will likely recommend staying up-to-date on your flu and pneumonia vaccines to help prevent COPD flare-ups. People with COPD are at a greater risk for catching possibly life-threatening colds, flus, viruses and infections, so prevention is key.
In the event of a flare-up, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, corticosteroids and even hospitalization. It’s important to see your doctor regularly even if you’re feeling well. However, it’s highly important to report any changes in your lung health, breathing, COPD symptoms or overall health to your doctor immediately.
Stage 3 COPD Lifestyle Modifications
In any stage of COPD, there are lifestyle modifications that can help reduce your COPD flare-up risk, manage your symptoms and even improve your quality of life. One of the most important changes you can make is to quit smoking. In addition to quitting smoking, avoiding your triggers, getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy diet help people live a more active life.
Alternative therapies also have the potential to improve quality of life. For example, people who had stem cell treatment reported feeling better, doing more of their favorite activities and experienced improvements in lung function. In fact, many patients were able to reduce their oxygen therapy use after treatment.
While medications only work to manage and reduce COPD symptoms, stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially improving breathing and quality of life. Stem cell therapy can help people in any stage of COPD, including stage 3 COPD. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about your options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.