This blog post will go over the four stages of COPD. Identifying which stage you or a loved one is in is essential, as early detection and treatment are crucial to managing the disease. Each location has unique symptoms, so it is vital to be familiar with them. We hope this information proves helpful and informative.
1. Mild COPD
The most prominent signs of stage one COPD include shortness of breath and an ongoing cough that can be accompanied by mucus. But, these symptoms are so insignificant that you may not be aware they are present.
Although the stage one COPD symptoms are simple to miss, harm to the lungs is still a reality. If you’re concerned that you might have COPD, talk to your physician about an evaluation. If you smoke, attempt to stop whenever you can to safeguard your lungs.
Alongside smoking cessation, Your doctor might also prescribe the use of a bronchodilator drug that relaxes muscles of the airways to help breath more accessible and is usually taken with an inhaler. See your doctor if you experience serious adverse effects such as blurred vision, irregular or rapid heart rate, or an allergy that manifests as swelling or a rash. The most common adverse effects are dry mouth, dizziness running nose, tremors, and throat irritation.
It is also essential to stay current with your annual influenza shots and pneumonia vaccinations to reduce the risk of worsening respiratory symptoms and other health problems.
2. Moderate COPD
In this stage, experienced symptoms of stage 1 become more severe as airflow restrictions progress. The shortness of breath that occurs when performing physical activities becomes more evident as the production of mucus and coughing may be increased. Other signs include wheezing, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
Your physician may prescribe a bronchodilator drug and suggest breathing techniques if they haven’t previously. This is usually when you first know the symptoms and take action. Designs such as pursed lips breathing and controlled breathing can help you lower your stress levels in physical activity and keep your active lifestyle.
Alongside your medication, pulmonary rehabilitation is a common element of COPD treatment in stage 2. It offers people suffering from COPD the tools they require to control their condition, decreasing the degree of symptoms and enhancing their living quality. In these outpatient exercises and educational classes, physical therapists, nurses, dietitians, and other health professionals will teach breathing techniques and strategies to cope with nutritional and fitness guidelines. Your doctor will help you determine whether pulmonary rehabilitation is a good option.
How often you attend your physician’s appointments is contingent upon the seriousness of your problem. If your symptoms are not severe, it is possible to have scheduled follow-up visits at least every six months, While more severe symptoms will require frequent surveillance.
3. Severe COPD
In stage 3, the lung function has dramatically diminished. The walls of the air sacs of the lungs weaken it becomes increasingly difficult to absorb oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide from the lungs while exhaling.
Initial symptoms are more severe and noticeable. For example, the breath shortness has increased, coughing and wheezing are more frequent, and you could produce more mucus.
You may also experience some of the following signs:
- Extreme fatigue or weak points
- Feelings of confusion or even forgetfulness
- Ankle swelling, legs, and feet
- The chest is tight
- More frequently, chest infections are a cause of concern.
At this point, you could experience flare-ups as symptoms suddenly become more intense and your lung function drastically alters. In these flare-ups, it is possible to notice more mucus clogging the bronchial tubes and sudden constriction of the muscles surrounding your airways.
The most common cause of flare-ups is the primary reason for hospitalizations due to COPD. It’s vital to act immediately whenever you feel you are experiencing symptoms of flare-ups. Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Breathlessness or breath shortness
- An increase in coughing attacks
- You can hear whistling or whistling noises when you breathe
- The mucus content is increasing
- Sleep or fatigue problems
- Cognitive impairment, such as depression, anxiety, or memory loss
As part of the COPD therapy, your physician will assist you in developing an action plan to manage flare-ups. This includes medication. Oral steroids such as prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone help treat chronic COPD exacerbations. The side effects of short-term usage of these drugs are usually minimal when they occur.
If you are experiencing frequent flare-ups, your physician might recommend inhaled corticosteroids such as Flovent(r) HFA and Qvar Redihaler(r) Expectorants that loosen mucus and thin it as well as oxygen therapy. You might also have to visit your physician every two weeks or months to track symptoms.
4. Very Severe COPD
In stage 4 of COPD, lung function is inferior. The symptoms of stage 3 get worse and get more severe. Breathing problems and chest tightness are commonplace during daily routines; eventually, it’s an effort to breathe. Due to breathing issues and lung infections or respiratory failure, hospitalizations are frequent during stage 4 COPD. Sudden flare-ups could become life-threatening.
Other signs that stage 4 COPD sufferers experience comprise:
- The sound of crackling when you breathe into
- The chest of the barrel
- A heartbeat that is irregular or rapid
- Weight loss
- Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure problem for the arteries in your lungs and on the right side of your heart.
There are many treatments for patients suffering from severe COPD symptoms, such as supplemental oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation. Steroids are administered orally or intravenously as an inhaler. Possible adverse reactions from steroids include swelling of the mouth and airways and mouth, muscle weakening, weight loss, fatigue, and an increased risk of contracting pneumonia. Check out our previous blog to get more information about managing the side effects of medications, and consult with your physician if you have concerns or questions.
Oxygen therapy, also known as supplemental oxygen therapy, assists in getting more oxygen to your lungs and improves the endurance of physical exercises. There are many devices available to help you with oxygen therapy. Most commonly, it’s a nasal cannula, an instrument with two tubes that can be inserted into your nostrils and an oxygen tank attached. Making the transition to oxygen therapy can be a lengthy process, but you’ll begin to feel more relaxed with time. In addition, the American Lung Association has valuable resources for anyone who is considering oxygen therapy.
Lung transplants and lung surgery are options for patients with severe COPD. The eligibility is determined by many aspects, such as participation in an exercise program for pulmonary rehabilitation and lung function tests and additional factors such as whether you’re strong enough to undergo the procedure and smoke. (You must not be a smoker to be eligible for lung surgery.) Your physician can help determine whether lung surgery is the right choice for you.