The Four Stages of COPD

COPD is a medical condition that causes shortness of breath and a chronic cough. There is no cure for COPD, but the disease can be managed in the early stages of the condition. The stages of the disease range from mild to severe. People diagnosed with the condition should be aware of the various stages.

COPD Stages

COPD Stage 1 Mild

You may be diagnosed with mild COPD if you only experience shortness of breath after an intense workout. The mildest form of COPD is characterized by slight inflammation in the lungs. Treatments for COPD are most effective in the earliest stages of the condition. Quitting smoking can slow the progression of COPD.

COPD Stage 2 Moderate

During the moderately severe stage of COPD, you might have difficulty breathing when you are doing daily activities. You could be gasping for breath after walking a short distance or climbing a flight of stairs, and many people in the second stage of COPD are awakened by a bothersome cough. The excessive coughing can cause chest pain. Most people do not realize how serious the condition is when they are dealing with moderately severe COPD.

COPD Stage 3 Severe

When COPD progresses to the severe stage, you will feel fatigued. Breathing will become even more difficult, and phlegm may accompany a cough. Many people seek medical treatment when the COPD symptoms are noticeable. The doctor will measure the amount of air leaving your lungs. The doctor will also check for other severe medical problems. Diabetes and heart disease need to be diagnosed and treated immediately. You may be offered a flu shot to prevent respiratory infections. At this stage of COPD, quitting smoking can still slow the progression of the disease.

COPD Stage 4 Very Severe

When the condition progresses to very severe, breathing difficulties interfere with daily activities. It becomes increasingly difficult to leave the house for long periods of time. In some instances, people with very severe COPD may need emergency medical assistance. In the last stage of COPD, doctors may recommend a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Pulmonary rehab programs teach people how to live with COPD.

COPD is a serious medical condition, and the condition will worsen without proper treatment. Many health professionals recommend quitting smoking. The damage of COPD cannot be reversed, but quitting smoking can prevent the disease from progressing to the later stages of the condition.