Hopefully, you already know the general information about the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the COPD stages, prognosis and life expectancy; it’s important to understand how each stage is broken down.
Each COPD stage differs in the severity of symptoms, spirometry, and COPD screening results, and how COPD affects your life.
In this article, we’ll focus on what you need to know about stage 1 COPD, which is also known as mild stage COPD.
Determining Stage 1 COPD
There are four total COPD stages, ranging from mild to very severe. Your doctor or pulmonologist will take a medical history, perform certain lung function tests and take into account how COPD affects your life to determine your stage of COPD.
Pulmonary function tests, which includes spirometry, will give lung function measurements to your doctor. Typically, doctors use the GOLD System and the BODE Index to help them categorize your stage of COPD.
In the GOLD System, stage 1 COPD is categorized as very mild COPD with a FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) about 80 percent or more of normal lung capacity.
Stage 1 COPD
During stage 1 COPD, most people don’t notice any symptoms and don’t know there is a problem. Because stage 1 COPD is the mildest stage, you may not have noticed a decrease in lung function yet.
Stage 1 COPD typically causes minor airflow limitation. However, you may start seeing an increase in mucus production or develop a chronic cough.
Many people with stage 1 COPD don’t visit their doctor to talk about their symptoms, leaving their COPD untreated.
Because COPD is a progressive disease that will worsen over time, it’s essential to receive a COPD diagnosis and begin a COPD treatment plan as soon as possible.
Diagnosing and treating COPD early gives you the best chance to slow the progression of the disease and improve your quality of life. It also helps you and your doctor develop the best treatment plan for you.
Stage 1 COPD Treatment
Because COPD affects everyone differently and at different rates, your COPD treatment plan will likely change over time.
Depending on your stage 1 COPD symptoms, your doctor may prescribe various medications, such as bronchodilators, flu, and pneumonia vaccines, and others.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, avoiding your COPD symptom triggers, eating a lung-healthy diet, and getting enough exercise.
These lifestyle modifications have been shown to help people with COPD live a more active life.
In combination with medications and lifestyle modifications, many people have benefited from trying alternative COPD treatments, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, and homeopathic remedies.
Typically, medications work to manage and reduce COPD symptoms.
Always discuss all options with your doctor before starting any treatments.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.