Four Stages of COPD and their Symptoms

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Four Stages of COPD and their Symptoms

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

COPD is a collection of illnesses that produce chronic inflammation in the lungs as well as permanent damage. As a result, normal airflow is obstructed, causing breathing problems. Smokers and persons over the age of 40 are more likely to get COPD. COPD affects an estimated 174 million people worldwide, and more than 3 million people die yearly by COPD.

Causes of COPD:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to Air pollution
  • Chemicals Access
  • Industrial dust and fumes
  • HIV Genetic diseases
  • Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency and Marfan syndrome

GOLD COPD Grading System:

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) is a semi organization that develops international standards for COPD treatment. Doctors define the severity of COPD by the GOLD grading system. The treatment you receive will be influenced by your grade.

GOLD COPD is graded on a scale from grade 1 to 4 based on your lung capacity as determined by a spirometry test. On the other hand, the new GOLD recommendations use spirometry findings along with subjective estimates of symptom intensity to establish your risk level using their group from A to D. Spirometry outputs are based on two measurement techniques:

  • 1. Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) measures how much air you can exhale during a forced breath.
  • 2. Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) is the total amount of air exhaled during the FEV test.

These measurements provide vital information to the doctor on how to diagnose and manage your COPD stage.

Four Stages of COPD

1.  Stage I Mild COPD

This stage is considered an early stage. You might not even realize you have a problem with your lung function at this point. If your FEV1 is between 80% and 100 % of your expected value, your doctor will diagnose you with grade 1 COPD.


You might not experience any symptoms at all. And if you do get symptoms, you may acquire a cough and produce more mucus. Increased physical activity leads to breathing shortness. Chest feels tightened. COPD in its early stages might be misunderstood for the flu.


To treat the lungs, your doctor may prescribe a bronchodilator medicine. These medicines are generally administered via an inhaler or nebulizer. One of the most essential things you can do to enhance your disease’s prognosis is to quit smoking if the patients with COPD have a history of smoking.

2.  Stage II Moderate COPD

This stage is considered a mild stage. This is the stage of COPD where symptoms start to appear more visibly. When your FEV1 declines to 50 to 79% of your expected value your doctor will diagnose you with grade 2 COPD.


People suffer exacerbations that exacerbate their symptoms and cause the color of their phlegm to change. They may have continuous coughing and phlegm, increased shortness of breath, fatigue, sleep issues or wheezing. It might start to affect your mental health, producing low mood and disorientation.


To enhance airflow to your lungs, your doctor may prescribe bronchodilator medicine. If your symptoms worsen, you may need to take steroids or oxygen. Your doctor may also propose pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a programmed aim to raise your knowledge of your illness. It’s generally delivered in the form of a group session in which you’ll learn how to better manage your illness.

3.  Stage III Severe COPD

COPD is considered severe by the time you reach stage 3, and your expiratory volume is between 30 and 50% of your expected value. You may be unable to leave your house because you are having difficulty collecting your breath when completing domestic tasks.


Early symptoms worsen, and you may find that you’re having more flare-ups than usual. You may experience more chest infections than usual, as well as chest tightness and wheezing on a daily basis. Other possible symptoms you may face are;

  •   Frequent colds
  •   Illness
  •   Swelling in your legs
  •   Chest discomfort
  •   Breathing difficulty
  •   Coughing


Stage 3 COPD therapy options are identical to stage 2. At this point, you’re more likely to require oxygen. Corticosteroids, combination inhalers, and other drugs or treatments may be prescribed by your doctor to assist in decreasing inflammation.

4.  Stage IV Very Severe COPD

Stage 4 is regarded as the most severe or the end-stage. Your forced expiratory volume is less than 30% of its usual value, resulting in low oxygen levels in the blood. This is the stage of COPD where the quality of life gets reduced drastically. Cardiac or lung failure have a higher possibility.


You’ll probably experience regular flare-ups by stage 4, which can be deadly. Even when you’re sleeping, you could have difficulties in breathing. You may also feel a ‘pulsing’ sound when you breathe in. Other possible symptoms are;

  •   Cartridge chest
  •   Confusion
  •   Irregular or rapid pulse
  •   Weight loss
  •   Hypertension


Stage 4 treatment choices are similar to those of the preceding stages. To help you breathe better, the doctor may suggest lung surgery. Lung transplantation, lung volume reduction surgery, and bullectomy are all surgical possibilities. Oxygen therapy and bronchodilators are often the suggested treatments for severe COPD.

Is it Possible to Delay Advanced or End-Stage COPD?

It is determined by the severity of your COPD and how well you react to the therapy. There are no two persons alike. However, adopting these healthy lifestyle tips can help:

  •   Don’t smoke, get assistance in quitting.
  •   Stay away from polluted air. Keep dust, odors, and smoke at bay.
  •   Get a flu vaccination every year. Consult your doctor to see if you also require the pneumonia vaccination.
  •   Consume nutritious foods
  •   Continue to go forward. Make certain you are getting adequate exercise.


COPD is a worldwide disease with rising prevalence and health-related consequences. FEV1 loss may be decreasing, but what’s truly needed is a long-term strategy to enhance it. Patients with the frequent-exacerbation phenotype should be identified using clinical markers such as chronic bronchitis and a record of prior flare-ups. COPD can be treated. The majority of instances (85% to 90%) are caused by smoking. Other factors are pollution in the air and chemicals in the surroundings.

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