How COPD Progresses
Stages of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease, meaning that it continues to worsen as time goes on. COPD is an irreversible disease for which there is currently no cure. However, there are measures that one can take for a better quality of life. Although this is a dire prognosis, there are ways to combat the disease, and the first way is understanding the progression 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. In this stage of COPD lung capacity is decreased. COPD patients struggle to breathe properly due to constant inflammation of the airways.
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. A bronchodilator is a small, portable inhaler that relaxes the airways and makes it easier to inhale.
Smoking is the number one cause of COPD, so it is recommended that those who have been diagnosed with COPD quit smoking immediately. It is also recommended to monitor environmental factors to keep dust, air pollution and other particles out of the lungs.
Stage 2 COPD
As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and lung function continues to decline. 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. Long-acting bronchodilators don’t offer immediate relief like short-acting, however, they help make it easier to breathe over longer periods of time.
Stage 3 COPD
Stage 3 COPD is similar to the previous stage with more severe symptoms. In stage 3 the patient will experience an even further decrease in lung function. Also, sufferers may also notice unintended weight loss and frequent respiratory infections. Additional treatment options typically include prescription daily medications and participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation class.
Stage 4 COPD
The final stage, or end stage, of the disease is COPD Stage 4. In this stage, people can expect to see lung function drop to nearly 30 percent. Supplemental oxygen is typically a definite fixture for the rest of the patient’s life, as many 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 or even lung transplants. 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, fat or bone marrow to promote healing. Although this treatment option is not a cure, it can greatly increase a person’s quality of life.
If you or a loved one has developed any stage of COPD, know that there is help out there. If you want to learn more about treatment options and how you can breathe easier, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065 today.