Do you want to be conversant with the COPD stages recognized by the medical profession? Perhaps you know someone who has been diagnosed with COPD, or maybe you even have it yourself. Or you might be a health practitioner who wishes to be informed. Either way, you will find what you’re looking for below.
First, we need to understand and clarify what COPD is.
What is COPD?
The term COPD is an acronym for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and refers to a condition whereby persons chronically suffer from dysfunction of the lung through blockage of the pathways that absorb and process oxygen. It may also include the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. This disease is most likely to affect both regular and the heavy smokers.
Since COPD indicates the damaged airways, individuals diagnosed with COPD normally experience shortness of breath and congestion in the chest. Smoking, air pollution, chronic lung cancer, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, etc are among the many factors that are likely to contribute to the occurrence of this condition. Since the disease is often a progressive one, a number of COPD stages have been identified.
Different COPD Stages
The progressive COPD stages are discussed in the following paragraphs. Note that the severity of COPD increases with each subsequent stage.
Stage #1: Mild COPD
This is the first stage of COPD. At this point, a COPD patient may or may not exhibit any noticeable symptoms. Being the initial stage, a person’s airflow into the lungs is slightly infected and thus the individual might not be in a position to realize it.
Those who smoke regularly are considered most likely to develop this condition, although it is not limited to “smokers” as such. People such as fire fighters who frequently inhale smoke are also prone to developing COPD. Breathing in toxic gases, chemical fumes and inhaling dust for many years are other factors likely to lead to the problem.
There are also some generic factors, which may determine whether an individual will develop this condition or not. For example, individuals suffering from the alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a protein type usually present in blood), are very likely to present with COPD symptoms. This is attributed to the fact that low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin may affect seriously the functioning of a person’s lungs.
COPD Stages – #2: Moderate Cough
In this stage, the degree of obstruction to the patient’s air flow into the lungs will increase somewhat. The individual will start experiencing shortness of breath. His or her cough and sputum production will eventually increase. At this point, it is recommended that the person seek medical assistance immediately.
In this stage, the condition does not cause any severe complications when a person avoids inhaling smoke or other irritants, as his/her airflow is only mildly obstructed. However, if the person doesn’t cease to inhale harmful substances, the symptoms are likely to deteriorate at a faster pace and progress to the next stage.
COPD Stages – #3: Severe COPD
Your shortness of breath will increase in this stage. The air flow in your lungs will become more limited. Consequently, your tolerance for physical activity will begin to decrease due to lack of oxygen supply to the body. This will eventually lead to a condition referred as fatigability and eventually your mental and physical strength will evaporate.
COPD Stages – #4: Very Severe COPD
This is the final stage involved in COPD prognosis. Once you arrive here, your general health is under threat. Because the efficiency of airflow in and out of your lungs is severely affected your normal day to day activities will change dramatically. Also, since about 70 percent of our body’s detoxification process comes from breathing out (the remaining 30 percent is from excretion, sweating and urination) your immune system may be compromised. At Stage 4 your quality of life gradually and inevitably declines.
In this COPD stage the sufferer is often hospitalized and the patient is likely to suffer from the chronic respiratory failure. This chronic respiratory failure will in turn aggravate the patient’s condition, since it will cause numerous problems such as ‘cor pulmonale’.
Cor pulmonale is a condition whereby blood pressure in a person’s artery increases drastically. Normally, the life expectancy of COPD patients will be determined by the severity of the situation. Generally speaking, those who have lost about two-thirds of their lung capacity during this period of diagnosis are most likely to survive for about another 10 years.
COPD stages and their associated symptoms can vary from one person to another. However, early detection accompanied by prompt treatment is an effective precaution that can be used to prevent further advancement of this disorder. For more topics associated with COPD stages, take a look at any of the pages below.
COPD Stages – Further Reading
Exacerbation of COPD
Exacerbation of COPD refers to a clinical condition featuring suddenly worsened chronic obstructive pulmonary symptoms. Various treatment methods are being used to manage acute COPD.
COPD Final Stages
When a patient is told that they are in the COPD final stages, it is natural for them to become frightened and confused. They require constant medical care and attention.
Death from COPD
Experts predict that by 2020, death from COPD will the third leading cause of death worldwide. Managing the final stages before death from COPD is important for the patient.
Life Expectancy With COPD
How your physician diagnoses your life expectancy with COPD usually depends on a few factors. There are currently 24 million Americans living with severe copd and their prognosis will depend on what stage of COPD they are experiencing
End Stages of COPD
For a COPD patient, being told that they are in the “end stages of COPD” may sound ominous and frightening. But in reality, it’s just a clinical term and says nothing about your individual situation.