What are 4 Stages of COPD

The name chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may imply a single condition, it is actually a collection of lung diseases. Each one of those lung diseases will leave you breathless and your body without the oxygen it needs to function properly. COPD is described by four different stages, depending how severe your COPD is. The classification system is called the GOLD staging system or the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease started in 1997 by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization. The stages are determined by your symptoms, how many times your COPD has worsened, how many hospital stays have resulted from your COPD worsening, and your spirometry results.

Spirometry and Your COPD Stage

Spirometry measures the amount of air exhale and the speed at which you exhale. Forced vital capacity (FVC) is the largest amount of air you exhale after inhaling as deeply as you can. Forced expiratory volume (FEV-1) is the volume of air you break out from your lungs in one second.

Stage I

You may not even notice when you are in this stage because the disease starts slowly. When you start to notice clear symptoms, you will most likely already have lung damage. Even if you are able to catch the disease in this stage you will not be able to cure it but you will be able to start treatments to slow the progress of the disease. The most common symptom of this stage is a nagging, persistent cough with mucous. If you push yourself physically, you may find that you are short of breath more easily. These may seem like part of the natural aging process, but these are not symptoms to ignore.

Stage II

At this stage of COPD, you will no longer be able to ignore your symptoms because your airflow is more limited. Any of the symptoms you had in Stage I are worse now which may be constant coughing with mucous or shortness of breath from the easiest of activities. You may have trouble sleeping or you may be more tired than normal. When you try to exercise or exert yourself you could wheeze. Even your mental health can start to be affected by forgetfulness, confusion, or slurred speech. About 20% of people who have COPD Stage II experience exacerbations, which require hospitalization, antibiotics and even steroids.

Stage III

By this stage of COPD, your disease will have an even bigger impact on your day-to-day life and the way you live. You may not have the same strength that you used to and it may make it hard to do any kind of chore. You will experience flare ups or exacerbations more often; you will have more shortness of breath and worse coughing. Stage III COPD can cause leg, feet, and ankle swelling, tightness in your chest, and more frequent colds. You will need to seek medical treatment if you experience changes in your heart rate or if you have a hard time catching your breath while talking.

Stage IV

This is the final stage of COPD and at this point you will have a lower quality of life with frequent, potentially fatal exacerbations. When you’re in this stage, your spirometry results are FEV1 / FVC is less than 70% and FEV1 is less than 30%.

What is COPD