What to Know About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Stages, Outlook and Treatment

COPD is an irreversible, long-term disease. COPD moves through four stages. These stages are important but not the last word on survival.

COPD life expectancy

People are living longer with COPD through the use of inhaler medications, portable oxygen systems and pulmonary rehabilitation.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases, most commonly emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a disease that may gradually get worse and move through different stages from mild to very severe. There is no cure for COPD even at early stages. Although COPD is a lifelong disease, early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life and life expectancy. [1-5]

Stages of COPD have been used to predict survival in the past, but doctors have learned that survival depends on many factors. [1,4,5] Improved treatment for COPD is now available even for advanced stages. Treatment can control symptoms, slow progression, and allow people to live longer more active lives at any stage. [2,3,5]

The Four Stages of COPD

Stages of COPD used to be based on lung tests like spirometry and other pulmonary function tests. These tests measure your lung capacity. According to the COPD Foundation, pulmonary function testing is no longer considered a one-size-fits all way to stage or predict COPD. [1] Lung function tests alone can’t predict how COPD will progress over time. [1,4]

Other things that affect the stage and progression of COPD include your genes, your body weight, how short of breath you get with activities, even how far you can walk in six minutes. Other diseases you live with may also have a big impact on survival. These include diseases like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. [1,4]

The COPD Foundation  describes the stages as a guide to help you and your doctor find the best treatment, not as a way to predict survival. [1] These are the stages and their symptoms: [5]

  • Stage I is mild COPD. Symptoms are a persistent cough and shortness of breath on exertion.
  • Stage II is moderate COPD. Symptoms include cough and shortness of breath along with wheezing, fatigue, and disturbed sleep. Shortness of breath may occur during routine activity and cough may be worse in the morning with more mucous.
  • Stage III is severe COPD. In this stage you may have worsening of stage II symptoms along with frequent upper respiratory infections, tightness in the chest, and trouble getting a deep breath. You may also have swelling in your feet and ankles.
  • Stage IV is very severe COPD. In this stage you may have worsening of stage III symptoms along with constant wheezing, loss of weight, and loss of appetite.

Treatments Prolong Life and Improve Quality of Life

cigarettes in an ashtray copd stages smoking

The chief culprit of COPD is smoking. Getting help to quit should be your primarily health goal.

For stage I COPD, the most effective treatment and the best way to prolong survival is to stop smoking. Without this step, no other treatments can prevent COPD from getting worse. [2] There are many medication options for all stages of COPD. Examples include inhalers that open your lungs and decrease inflammation, oral medications that improve breathing, and antibiotics to fight off infections. [2,3,5]

Other therapies include oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation programs, and surgery. Oxygen therapy along, with not smoking, definitely improves survival. [4] Pulmonary rehab programs include education, exercise, nutrition advice, breathing exercises, and counselling. Surgical advances for COPD include procedures that remove damaged lung tissue to make room for healthy lung tissue, called lung volume reduction. Lung transplant is now an option for some people. [2,3,5]

Lifestyle Changes for Living Better with COPD

You will learn breathing techniques and breathing exercises to help you breathe better in pulmonary rehab. You can use these regularly at home. Other ways to manage COPD at home include: [2,3,5]

COPD is a serious disease and it does tend to get worse over time. Although there is no cure, COPD can be treated. Stages of COPD are important for choosing the best therapies, but the stage of COPD is not the last word on survival. With advanced treatment and lifestyle changes any stage of COPD can be treated.

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SOURCES

  1. COPD Foundation, Stages of COPD, https://www.copdfoundation.org/Learn-More/I-am-a-Person-with-COPD/Stages-of-COPD.aspx
  2. Mayo Clinic, COPD, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/symptoms-causes/syc-20353679
  3. NYU Langone Health, COPD, https://nyulangone.org/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-in-adults/support
  4. BMJ Best Practice, COPD, Prognosis, https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-us/7/prognosis
  5. MedicineNet, What is COPD? https://www.medicinenet.com/what_are_the_four_stages_of_copd/article.htm

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Chris Iliades, MD

Chris Iliades has an MD degree and 15 years of experience as a freelance writer. Based in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, his byline has appeared regularly on many health and medicine … Read More

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  • I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in summer of 2014, my symptoms started out with shortness of breath and chronic cough. The pulmonary disease specialist prescribed me some medications to help my symptoms however the medications did no good and their side effects were too severe. In May 2016, i started on NewLife Herbal Clinic COPD Herbal formula treatment, i read alot of positive reviews on their success rate with the COPD Herbal formula and i immediately started on the treatment. Just 11 weeks into the Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements with my breathing, there is no case of dyspnea and chest tightness since treatment, visit NewLife Herbal Clinic official website www. newlifeherbalclinic. com or email info@ newlifeherbalclinic. com. This treatment is incredible!

    Shirley Heche

  • My mother was hospitalized for triple pneumonia and was diagnosed at that time with COPD. She had been a smoker since she was 16 years old and was about 70 years at diagnosis, so she had been smoking for about 55 years. We were so well educated about the damage smoking had done to her lungs,and we know there is no cure to COPD ,thank GOD for leading us to GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME,please don’t ignore this post is real, Dr George(Good health herbs home) is a real herbal Doctor ,he cured my mother of COPD,she was totally cured within 5 weeks of usage. Dr George (Good health herbs home) herbal medicine for COPD has no side effect,it works like a miracle,please viewers out there that have any deadly disease,please don’t fail contact Dr George via (www goodhealthherbshome com) .

  • My mother was hospitalized for triple pneumonia and was diagnosed at that time with COPD. She had been a smoker since she was 16 years old and was about 70 years at diagnosis, so she had been smoking for about 55 years. We were so well educated about the damage smoking had done to her lungs,and we know there is no cure to COPD ,thank GOD for leading us to GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME,please don’t ignore this post is real, Dr George(Good health herbs home) is a real herbal Doctor ,he cured my mother of COPD,she was totally cured within 5 weeks of usage. Dr George (Good health herbs home) herbal medicine for COPD has no side effect,it works like a miracle,please viewers out there that have any deadly disease,please don’t fail contact Dr George via email drgeorge @ goodhealthherbshome .com , info @ goodhealthherbshome . com..or website goodhealthherbshome . com ..

  • My dad has COPD he’s on his last stage he just went to hospital he turned 70 in July plus he has Agent Orange from Vietnam what can I do for my dad to help him I would give my lungs if I could but he couldn’t go under for Sergey please someone tell me what I can do for my farther

  • I had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for 15 years. My first symptoms were dry cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath. My first chest x-ray only showed bronchitis. Finally I went to a pulmonologist, After many tests it was a CT scan that showed COPD, and scarring in my lungs. I quit smoking 17 years and 6 months ago. But the damage has been done. I got to the point I couldn’t catch my breath and was coughing so hard I thought the top of my head would blow off. The day after I had the scan I was on oxygen the next night and was on it 24/7. December 2017 I was searching for alternative help online and read about Mbeki herbal clinic and there herbal formula for COPD, I also read great reviews from people here in the United States who already used the herbal formula, I started on Mbeki Herbal Clinic COPD Herbal formula, 5 weeks into treatment I improved dramatically. At the end of the full treatment course, the disease is totally gone and my health restored. No case of shortness of breath, wheezing, weakness, or chest tightness

  • I have had emphysema for about five years. I was on oxygen during the day but not at night. I could go about two hours without the oxygen, and then I need it. I had a converter in the house and oxygen tanks for when I go shopping, etc. I am 64 years old and in relatively good health. The doctor said it was caused by a combination of smoking, dust here in Vegas, and 30 years of smog in California. I believed I will always need the oxygen to breathe. I quit smoking 15 years ago. But the damage has been done. January 2017 my pulmonologist and I decided to go with natural treatment and was introduced to Green House Herbal Clinic natural organic Emphysema Herbal formula, i had a total decline of symptoms with this Emphysema Herbal formula treatment. Visit Green House Herbal Clinic official web-site greenhouseherbalclinic. com. The infections, shortness of breath, fatigue, dry cough and other symptoms has subsided.  I am very pleased with this treatment. I breath very well now and exercise regularly, sometimes i totally forget i ever had Emphysema, I am thankful to nature, the medics failed. Share with friends!!

  • Last year I started on COPD Herbal formula treatment from rich herbs foundation, the treatment worked incredibly for my lungs condition. I used the herbal treatment for almost 5 months, it reversed my chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. My severe shortness of breath, dry cough, low energy, fatigue, chest tightness and others gradually disappeared. Visit rich herbs foundation official web page w w w. richherbsfoundation. c o m. This COPD treatment has improved the quality of my life greatly, i breath much better and It feels comfortable!

  • I was diagnosed with COPD 5 years ago and was taking Spiriva and Advair plus nose sprays to slow down progression. My symptoms have always been shortness of breath, and dizziness. I am a 54 year old male. the Spiriva wasn’t really working and I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects, so this year our family doctor started me on Natural Herbal Gardens COPD Herbal mixture, We ordered their COPD herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report with the help of Natural Herbal Garden natural herbs I have been able to reverse my symptoms using herbs, my symptoms totally declined over a 9 weeks use of the Natural Herbal Gardens COPD natural herbal formula. My COPD is totally reversed! Their official web page is naturalherbalgardens . c om After the herbal treatment I also finally was able to give up smoking after 20 years. I ‘m thankful to nature

  • I have Mar-fans Syndrome which can cause early emphysema. I quit smoking 30 yrs ago but the damage was already done. I feel I definitely get treated differently because of the diagnosis of COPD, and have to fight to stay above the depression I feel because I know I helped short-end my life. I was living with a puffer every so often and then had heart surgery and became much worse as far as breathing goes. When I found out about herbal supplements then I found out many testimony about herbal health remedies foundation. after so many question about their herbs and how I will apply daly and after some weeks later I started see some improvement.

  • Any medicine that they say “we really don’t know it might help but we can’t tell” is nonsense. Like what he said about the one drug available. And right after that he bags on the other stuff out there that also works perfectly by Herbal Health Remedies Foundation.

  • At age 29 I was diagnosed with Bronchitis. At that time I had been a smoker for at least for 2 year. My doctor admonished me that if I didn’t quit, the bronchitis could turn into COPD. I had not quit and by the time I was 41, I was diagnosed of COPD. I had severe shortness of breath after energetic activity; even just climbing stairs, wheezing, fatigue and tightness of the chest. I was on Advair and albuteral inhaler. I even used Prima Tene Mist inhaler, but nothing really made me feel better. About two years ago, I began to do a lot of research and learnt about a COPD TREATMENT from Rich Herbs Foundation and their success rate with the treatment,i immediately started on the treatment, i started experience reduction/decline in major symptoms, including the shortness of breath, fatigue, cough and wheezing. Its been over 1 years since treatment, i feel great and breath well

  • Herbal health remedies is the best medication of all for COPD, but you’ll get more help from their cold cannabin oil and a mucous relief herbal cough medicine than without it. The herbal guaifenesin cough medicine will clear out your congestion so well. I got through a small bottle about every 2 days. After been able to you apply all the medication from herbal health remedies for about two- three weeks , I can really breath will and sleep good at night thanks herbal health remedies foundation.

  • I am 82 have had chronic bronchitis for 30 yrs I am in stage 4, I excise at rehab 3 days a week use a c – pap at night with 4 liters of o2 I am 5’ 9” 270 lbs. quit smoking 18 yrs ago can you help also have heart failure and a kind of afib

  • My uncle has severe COPD, Emphysema and is showing more regular signs of exacerbation of the disease. The shortness of breath and watching him struggle to get the air he needs is painful to watch, but equally difficult to witness is to see the fear in his face every time he is struggling.The anxiety (panic type attacks) is another very cruel aspect of this disease… It is such a sad world when people come on and post what appears to be absolute rubbish (herbs) which is probably giving some people false hope and seeing them reach into their pockets to buy stuff that most likely will not do a damn thing to help COPD sufferers.

    Herbs and healthy living no doubt has its own benefits, but please stop taking advantage of seriously ill people by spruiking absolute garbage which is wrong on every level, especially on a moral/human level.

    So many people are struggling with COPD and would be tempted to try anything, to think some mongrels out there are happily filling their banks accounts with a business model of false hope and deceit. JUST PLAIN WRONG!

    Cheers!

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