4 Stages of COPD

The diagnosis of COPD involves determining how severe the symptoms of COPD have become and what stage it is in. The

stages of COPD

are classified into four categories based on the severity of the symptoms and the readings of spirometry tests of lung function. Apart from the four stages, a stage called zeroth stage with just productive cough and no decrease in the function of lungs marks the beginning of COPD, and here are the other four

stages of COPD


The 4 Stages of COPD Based on Severity of Symptoms

  • Stage I (Mild)

    The symptoms of COPD during the first stage are usually not noticeable, there even might not be any symptoms present, except for decreased lung function. The functioning of lungs is measured as forced expiratory volume(FEV), that is how much air your lungs are capable of breathing out. The FEV at this stage is usually around or greater than 80% of predicted value. Some people might have chronic productive cough during this stage.

  • Stage II (Moderate)

    The obstruction to the air flow increases further in this stage of COPD. You will notice shortness of breath and productive cough especially during or after undergoing any form of physical exertion. This is the stage in which most people notice any symptoms of COPD and go for medical treatment. The FEV during this stage is between 50% to 79% of the predicted value.

  • Stage III (Severe)

    Difficulty in breathing worsens during this stage and shortness of breath increases very significantly. Any form of activity causes fatigue and it will be difficult to tolerate any physical work. At this stage, the FEV will be 30% to 49% of the predicted value. Some people also find exacerbated symptoms of COPD during this stage.

  • Stage IV (Very Severe)

    The fourth stage is the most advanced stage of COPD affecting their quality of life. The exacerbation of symptoms during this stage can actually be life-threatening. The severe obstruction in airflow can result in chronic respiratory failure which leads to failure of right heart (cor pulmonale) in some cases and can be fatal. The FEV at this stage is less than 30% of the predicted value.

There are also complications that might occur other than respiratory failure, such as, osteoporosis, heart diseases, depression, and pulmonary hypertension as the

stages of COPD

progresses. But, it is never too late. You can quit smoking, take treatment and start on a healthy lifestyle to get back your health.

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