The 4 stages of COPD: what you should know (2023)

February 28, 2018 6:13:32 / fromDuque Reeves

The 4 stages of COPD: what you should know (1)

Bediagnosed with COPDit can be a very frightening and disheartening experience. It's common to feel fear and apprehension about living with your diagnosis, and maybe even guilt about what you did or didn't do that may have caused your COPD.

But the most important thing to know about your COPD diagnosis is that with an effective treatment plan and a healthy lifestyle, you can take control and slow the progression of your disease.

According to theGOLD-System(developed by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) COPD goes through four typical stages, with Stage 1 being the mildest and Stage 4 being the most severe.

Based on the severity of your symptoms and lung function tests (spirometry), your doctor will determine the stage of your disease. GOLD also just released new guidelines that also take into account your COPD screening test result and exacerbation history.

However, the most common practice used by doctors to categorize COPD is to use the severity of your symptoms and lung function tests to determine your stage.

This article will introduce you to the 4 stages of COPD and what to expect at each point. We want to help you better understand your illness and its symptoms and to take care of yourself and stay as healthy as possible.

Some COPD sufferers feel powerless to control their disease, but the only way to slow the worsening of COPD symptoms is to take a proactive role in your own health and treatment. With the help of their doctors and a healthy lifestyle, many people with COPD lead long, fulfilling, and active lives.

Carrythe COPD athlete, Russell Winwood for example. She has spent her life since her diagnosis leading a highly active lifestyle, running marathons and training for triathlons despite having stage 4 COPD.

He has used his own example to encourage other people with COPD and other respiratory illnesses to work hard and stay hopeful. It is proof that a high and active quality of life can be maintained with enough effort and dedication.

And just because Russell trains for triathlons doesn't mean you have to in order to live a full and happy life. It's her passion and she doesn't let her COPD dictate her life. You can still follow your passion and live your life to the fullest!

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Step 1: Illuminate EPOC

COPD-Stadium 1It is the first and mildest stage of the disease. In fact, the symptoms are often so mild that most people don't realize they have a health problem. Usually people think their symptoms are just signs of aging or long-term smoking because the symptoms are not debilitating. They are simply swept under the rug.

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Unfortunately, this causes many people to ignore the early symptoms of COPD and wait too long to see a doctor. Here are some of the warning signs that you might have COPD:

  • Constantly out of breath after simple tasks
  • Changes in the consistency and color of the mucus
  • Chronic cough for no apparent reason
  • You have trouble breathing while lying down

If you notice any of these warning signs, it's important that you don't ignore mild breathing difficulties and seek medical advice as soon as possible. Early detection of the disease is key so you have time to take medication and make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent it from getting worse.

In stage 1,COPD is still easily treatable, so it's important to take advantage of all available treatments and make permanent lifestyle changes. It's especially important to stay active and get regular exercise while symptoms are still mild.

Stage 1 COPD symptoms

COPD is often the last thing on people's minds when they're having trouble breathing, but it's important to pay attention to your symptoms and consider potential warning signs.

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If you are or have been a smoker, have been exposed to lung irritants at home or at work, or have been heavily exposed to other chemicals or pollutants, you should be especially vigilant.

These are the most common symptoms of stage 1 COPD:

  • Slight airflow restrictions
  • Chronic cough and/or wheezing
  • Increased production of mucus/sputum in the airways
  • Fatigue (you notice that you get tired more easily than usual)
  • FEV1 of at least 80% of normal (your FEV1 is a measure of the amount of air you can exhale in 1 second)

As you can see, stage 1 COPD symptoms can easily be mistaken for a benign condition such as allergies, the common cold, or a natural part of aging. COPD can be complicated in this regard, which is why it's important to take these symptoms seriously and speak to a doctor as soon as possible. Especially if your symptoms are persistent.

Stage 1 COPD treatment options

Having received a stage 1 diagnosis gives you a great advantage when it comes to slowing the progression of your disease. The best time for a COPD diagnosis is at stage 1, as there is still time to make healthy lifestyle changes and you can still lead a fairly normal and active life.

In stage 1, symptoms are usually very mild, and most treatment options focus on preventing other symptoms. By developing healthy lifestyle habits, such as Things like clean eating, regular exercise and socializing while closely monitoring your symptoms will make it much easier for you to control your COPD and slow its progression.

The 4 stages of COPD: what you should know (5)

Although COPD cannot be cured, it is very treatable. Your disease will likely progress to a later stage, but early treatment can greatly slow the progression of the disease. Here are some of the recommended treatment options for stage 1 COPD.

stop smoking

If you smoke, the first and most important thing you can do to treat your COPD is to stop. Once you receive your COPD diagnosis, you should find and apply itSmoking Cessation Resourcesare at your disposal.

Quitting smoking certainly isn't easy, but when you have COPD, it's the only way to keep your health from rapidly deteriorating. If you don't quit smoking right away, you will almost certainly find your symptoms getting worse quickly and permanently.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation medication and ask your friends and family for support. There are even state and federal programs that will give you free nicotine patches or gum if you sign up for their program.

But I'm not going to beat a dead horse here... There are so many articles out there about how to quit smoking and I'm sure you've heard all the tips more than once.

I leave you a little piece of advice that may not be on the list. Join Facebook support groups. You will be able to connect with people who are going through the same struggle as you and with people who have successfully quit smoking, so you can count on many people to support you.

Vermeiden Sie Lungenreizstoffe

Quitting smoking is part of avoiding lung irritants, but there are other chemicals and air conditions you should also avoid if you have COPD.

If you have allergies, you already know that it can affect your airways and your ability to breathe. But dust and pollution also irritate the lungs, and you should avoid them to prevent COPD symptoms from getting worse.

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(Video) Stages of COPD

Even if you don't realize that dust and smog make your symptoms worse, they can still damage your lungs and should be avoided. Overall, the more exposure you have to these lung irritants, the faster your disease will progress.

Important lung irritants to avoid:

  • air pollution and smog
  • Dust (consider using an air filter or dust mask in places where you might be exposed)
  • Pollen (for allergies)
  • Chemicals found in household (and industrial) cleaning products
  • Strong perfume or cologne (including other scented products like lotions and shampoos)
  • Smoke (including secondhand smoke, incense, burning wood, etc.)
  • Aerosols (such as air fresheners and disinfectants)
  • Extreme weather conditions (extreme heat, extreme cold and humidity)

Healthy diet and nutrition

It's important to change your diet as soon as you receive your diagnosis as it can do wonders for your overall health. And if you have COPD, it's especially important to keep your body in peak condition.

Your doctor will help you develop a diet tailored to your needs based on your age, current diet, disease stage, and other factors. Make sure you don't make any sudden, major changes to your diet without first consulting your doctor.

Here are some foods that are healthy for people with COPD:

  • Choose lean proteins (chicken, fish, turkey)
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat whole grains and avoid processed foods
  • Take the necessary vitamins and supplements as recommended by your doctor.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks (like sodas and fruit juices)

These are recommendations that every healthy adult should follow, not just people with COPD. But as someone with COPD, it's especially important to avoid unhealthy foods and give your body the right nutrition it needs.

These are some foods that areIt is not healthyfor people with COPD:

  • Fried and processed foods (eg, fast food, processed snack foods, and processed meats)
  • Caffeinated and sugary drinks
  • Salty foods
  • Foods that cause heartburn or heartburn
  • Nitrate und Sulfite
  • Alcoholic beverages (may slow breathing rate)

Get more physical activity

It is extremely important to develop good exercise habits as soon as possible when you have COPD. The longer you wait, the worse your symptoms will get. If you can develop good exercise habits while you're still in Stage 1, when symptoms are still mild, it will be easier to maintain physical activity over time.

If you wait until later, you'll find that worsening symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and restricted airways make it especially difficult to stick to an exercise routine. It gets even worse if you've never been very active.

Even if you sometimes feel out of breath and have trouble breathing, it gets easier as you build strength. But it's important not to overdo it. If you feel like you can't continue, that's okay. Keep trying and your whole body will feel stronger and healthier. Not to mention that you will have more energy and stamina.

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Not only is exercise generally good for you, but regular cardiovascular activity can strengthen the muscles around your lungs. This can help reduce COPD symptoms by making it easier to breathe.

Here are some of the benefits you can get from a COPD exercise plan:

  • Improved circulation and oxygenation throughout the body.
  • Improved oxygen efficiency (your lungs don't have to work as hard to deliver enough oxygen)
  • Stronger muscles around the lungs
  • A booster for your immune system
  • More energy and endurance.

to be vaccinated

People with COPD are more prone to complications when they catch the flu or other viruses. Infection with a respiratory disease can make existing symptoms worse.

Vaccinations won't help relieve the symptoms you already have, but they can prevent them from getting worse. Severe flu can cause COPD problems to flare up and last longer, sometimes leading to a permanent worsening of symptoms.

Because COPD patients are at increased risk of complications and hospitalizations, it's especially important to protect themselves from respiratory diseases like pneumonia and influenza. By keeping up with your yearly vaccinations, you have an extra layer of protection against this risk.

short-acting bronchodilators

Stage 1 usually requires minimal, if any, medication to control symptoms. Breathing problems are usually mild, and long-term medication is usually not required.

However, the first prescription medication most people with COPD receive is a short-acting bronchodilator. This type of inhaler is designed for use as needed when you need temporary relief from mild symptoms.

Short-acting bronchodilators contain medicines that relax the muscles around the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Most doctors will tell you to use them as needed if your symptoms worsen.

Here are a few examples of short-acting bronchodilators:

  • Anticholinergics (e.g. ipratropium)
  • Beta-2 agonists (e.g. albuerol or levalbuterol)
  • Sometimes your doctor will prescribe a combination of two short-acting bronchodilators.

Stage 1 overview

While a COPD diagnosis is never good news, if you're diagnosed with stage 1, you're luckier than most with the disease. You still have many viable treatment options ahead of you and a chance to improve your overall health before your symptoms worsen.

Phase 1 requires little, if any, medication, and your treatment plan will likely focus on preventive maintenance and healthy habits like diet and exercise. It's also important to avoid environmental irritants like second-hand smoke, household chemicals, and long-term exposure to allergens.

You can greatly improve your symptoms and prognosis by quitting smoking, developing healthy eating habits, avoiding lung irritants, and getting more physical activity right away. Developing these skills early is key to maintaining a good quality of life with COPD.

Stage 2: moderate COPD

In stage 2 of the disease,COPD Symptomsthey become more pronounced and new symptoms may appear. This is the stage when many people start noticing their breathing difficulties and decide to see a doctor.

At this point, lung function has declined more than at stage 1, and the signs of COPD are more evident. At this point, patients may be prescribed longer-acting medications to treat chronic symptoms and referred to a COPD support program to better learn to manage their disease.

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COPD stage 2 symptoms

With stage 2 COPD, you will notice symptoms that are more noticeable and persistent than stage 1. You may also notice some new symptoms, such as: B. chronic shortness of breath or difficulty coughing up mucus.

These are the typical symptoms of stage 2 COPD:

  • Airflow restriction deterioration
  • Worsening of shortness of breath, especially after strenuous activity
  • Increased phlegm and phlegm in the airways.
  • persistent and chronic cough
  • Difficulty expelling mucus from the lungs
  • FEV1 value of 50-79% of normal

While you might have been able to ignore your symptoms at Stage 1, at Stage 2 they often become too obvious to ignore. It's important to get treatment from a doctor who is knowledgeable about COPD to properly manage your symptoms.

treatment options

In Level 2, all of the treatment options that were available in Level 1 and more are available to you. You will likely need some type of medication to help with your symptoms.

Even if you're already using short-acting bronchodilators, your doctor may prescribe a longer-acting medication to help with chronic symptoms.

If you're having trouble moving and managing your symptoms, your doctor may also refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation to help you start healthier habits.

pulmonary rehabilitation

Many doctors recommendpulmonary rehabilitationfor patients struggling to control their symptoms and changing their diet and exercise routines.

However, pulmonary rehabilitation programs are a good idea for anyone diagnosed with COPD because they include a variety of educational, psychological, and physical activity programs to help people with respiratory conditions.

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Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are like a boot camp for COPD, and attending one is a great way to start your treatment. You will be guided by qualified therapists and health professionals who can help you learn and practice healthy habits.

(Video) What Are the 4 Stages of COPD and the Symptoms of Each

Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Education

It's important to know as much as you can about your condition so you can play an active role in managing it. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs place a strong emphasis on helping people understand COPD and respiratory health so they can make more informed, healthier decisions.

Unlike a regular health lecture, the pulmonary rehabilitation class is designed to be practical and relevant to YOU. Finally, it would be tragic if your symptoms worsened or your disease progressed because you didn't have the information you need to understand and treat COPD.

A good pulmonary rehabilitation program will teach you everything you need to know about your condition and how to manage it, so you have everything you need to keep your COPD under control. In addition, you will receive counseling on how to emotionally manage your illness and stay motivated to follow your treatment plan despite adversity.

Here are some topics you can learn more about in pulmonary rehabilitation:

  • How to deal with your illness
  • How to get support from doctors, family and friends
  • This will keep you informed and stick to your treatment plan
  • Exercises and techniques for better breathing
  • Physical activities that are particularly helpful for people with COPD
  • Techniques on how, when and how often to use your inhaler

Once you complete a pulmonary rehabilitation program, the knowledge you gain will give you a solid foundation for living with COPD.

Pulmonary rehabilitation: diet and exercise

It depends on a healthy diet and sufficient physical activitythe most importantpart of the treatment of COPD. That's something pulmonary rehabilitation programs are good for: helping you understand what proper diet and exercise look like when you have COPD.

It will help you understand not only what types of exercises you should be doing and how often, but the reasons and theory behind why they will help you. It's much easier to stay motivated and stick to a healthy routine when you understandWeilis beneficial rather than just doing it because someone told you to.

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Here are some things you can learn about diet and exercise in pulmonary rehabilitation:

  • What regular activities and exercises should be considered likely?
  • Why regular exercise is important and how it can help your COPD
  • Breathing techniques to facilitate physical activity
  • Foods and drinks that can make COPD symptoms worse
  • Tips for planning and preparing healthy meals
  • And much more!

Pulmonary rehabilitation: support groups

One thing you can't underestimate when you're suffering from a chronic illness is the power of a support system. Having people around to help and support you in managing your COPD can help keep you motivated and hopeful.

One of the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation is that you gain access to a broader support system from doctors and other COPD patients. Through regular support group meetings, you can meet other people who are going through the same thing as you and share your challenges and successes.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a great way to make new friends, discover new COPD resources, and build the skills you need to stay healthy and slow the progression of your disease. You can even find people to keep in touch with after the program ends, so you can still have a support system in place.

It's important to have friends to share your hopes, fears, victories, and setbacks with so you can stay strong and alert as you manage your COPD. But don't forget to have fun and de-stress with friends too; A little relaxation can go a long way in making you feel better!

long-acting bronchodilators

Unlike a short-acting bronchodilator, you typically use a long-acting bronchodilator at regular intervals each day rather than as needed. You typically use it once or twice a day to help prevent chronic, recurring COPD symptoms.

Long-acting bronchodilators work around the clock to keep the muscles around the lungs relaxed. They work effectively in relieving respiratory symptoms and helping many people with COPD breathe easier.

There are several types of long-acting bronchodilators, which fall into two categories: those that use only one bronchodilator drug and those that combine two bronchodilators or a bronchodilator with a corticosteroid.

Examples of long-acting bronchodilator drugs only:

  • Arformoterol (Brovana)
  • Formoterol (Foradil)
  • Indacaterol (Arcapta), Salmeterol (Serevent)

Examples of long-acting bronchodilator drug combinations:

  • Glicopirrolato/Formoterol (Bevespi Aerosphere)
  • Licopirrolato/Indacaterol (Utibron Neohaler)
  • Tiotropio/Olodaterol (Stiolto Respimat)

Examples of long-acting corticosteroid-bronchodilator drug combinations:

  • Budesonida/Formoterol (Symbicort)
  • Fluticasona/Selmeterol (Advair)
  • Fluticason/Vilanterol (Breo Ellipta)

antibiotics and corticosteroids

Depending on the severity of your COPD symptoms and how often you experience worsening symptoms, your doctor may recommend antibiotics or corticosteroid medications.

COPD makes you more vulnerable if you get an infection, so your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an exacerbation (a period, often days or weeks, when your symptoms flare up and get worse).

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If you do get sick, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent complications, but in some cases your doctor may recommend a long-term preventative antibiotic. The antibiotic azithromycin, while not currently officially approved for the treatment of COPD, has been shown to reduce the number of exacerbations in patients with severe COPD symptoms.

Corticosteroids are another type of medication that can prevent COPD exacerbations and help you breathe easier. They help fight inflammation in the airways and improve lung function by reducing swelling and excess mucus production.

There are two types of steroid medications commonly used in COPD patients: oral steroids and inhaled steroids. Oral steroids (like prednisone) are used to generally improve overall lung function, while inhaled steroids (like fluticasone, also known as Flovent) are generally used during exacerbations when symptoms are rapidly worsening.

Level 2 overview

Most people first seek medical attention and are diagnosed when they have reached stage 2 COPD. This is the point when the symptoms become too bad to ignore and require medication to control.

There are many treatment options and time to make lifestyle changes that slow the progression of COPD. People with stage 2 COPD need to focus on creating a healthy diet and exercise plan that they can stick to over the long term.

If you have stage 2 COPD, you should work with a doctor to monitor your symptoms and lung function, and make sure you have the right medication to help you manage any breathing difficulties. Supplemental oxygen therapy equipment is not usually required at this point in the disease, but it is important to have a detailed treatment plan that combines healthy habits and medication.

Stage 3: severe COPD

In COPD stage 3, the disease has progressed and lung function has continued to decline. Symptoms are usually quite severe and require intensive treatment to control.

You will find that at level 3 your breathing difficulties will become more than bothersome and will likely interfere with your daily activities.

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COPD Stage 3 Symptoms

Stage 3 COPD symptoms are more severe and more common than earlier stages. You may also notice new symptoms that you didn't have before.

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with stage 3 COPD:

  • Worsening of dyspnoea
  • Worsening fatigue
  • Severe shortness of breath even with light activity
  • Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight
  • Worsening fatigue
  • Headache in the morning
  • swelling of the feet or ankles (oedema)
  • Greater number of exacerbations of symptoms.
  • FEV1 value of 30-49% of normal

What you'll probably notice most is that your symptoms are more debilitating and more frequent than before. As your symptoms pile up, you need to pay even more attention to how your body feels and monitor your symptoms more carefully.

treatment options

At this stage, people with COPD need more intensive and frequent medical care. As symptoms worsen, they become more difficult to control, so it's important to work with a doctor to carefully monitor respiratory symptoms and lung function.

You will continue to use many of the treatment options from Stages 1 and 2, but you may also benefit from supplemental oxygen therapy at this time.

Regular lung function tests

In stage 3, you may need to visit your doctor more frequently for lung function tests. This will help you monitor the severity of your illness and determine if your treatment plan is working.

Your doctor will want to run tests and monitor your symptoms closely. This will ensure that you can adjust your medication and treatment plan accordingly if changes are detected.

(Video) 4 Stages of COPD Explained: Stage 4 - Severe COPD (Living Healthy with COPD)

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Avoid contamination and lung irritants

Avoiding lung irritants becomes more important as your COPD becomes more severe. Avoid areas with secondhand smoke, pollution, scents and pollen.

You can check with your local weather service or go online each day to see the air quality rating for your area. Limit your time outdoors on days with a lot of air pollution or pollen and be prepared to deal with more severe symptoms.

If you can't avoid environments that could make your symptoms worse, make sure you have the right medication (e.g., inhalers) and equipment (e.g., dust mask or supplemental oxygen therapy) on hand to manage your symptoms get over.

Precautions to avoid lung irritants in people with COPD:

  • Keep an N95 face mask handy when out in public to protect yourself from environmental pollutants and irritants you can't avoid
  • Check the air quality in your area before leaving home and limit outdoor activities on smoggy days (
  • Check pollen alerts in your area before you leave home if you have allergies (

Vaccination and disease prevention

Getting vaccinated against the flu is still important at this stage of the disease, but protecting yourself from the disease becomes even more important at stage 4. You must take extra precautions when entering densely populated areas, especially during cold and flu season.

To prevent diseases and exacerbations, observe proper hygiene. This means washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face or mouth in public.

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Wearing an N95 mask in public is another step you can take to protect yourself from airborne particles and viruses. You can also reduce the risk of illness by disinfecting high-touch surfaces like shopping carts and doorknobs with disinfectant wipes.

supplemental oxygen therapy

Some people require supplemental oxygen sooner, but most COPD patients are not prescribed oxygen therapy before stage 3. Whether you need supplemental oxygen depends on your SPO2 level, which is a measure of the amount of oxygen in your blood. .

If your lung function begins to decline and your lungs can no longer supply enough oxygen to your body, you will need to supplement them with oxygen from a portable oxygen generator or home oxygen tank.

Although many people who need oxygen therapy equipment initially see it as a burden, you will find that it can significantly improve your symptoms and extend your lifespan. Do not see it as an obstacle or a crutch, but as an opportunity that will allow you to continue living an active and normal life.

Here are some of the benefits you can get from using supplemental oxygen:

  • Better quality of life
  • extended shelf life
  • Decreased wheezing and dyspnea
  • Greater resistance and less fatigue.
  • Reduced morning headaches
  • slow cardiovascular decline
  • Reduced risk of heart failure

In stage 3, portable oxygen therapy can be used before or during physical activity, while you sleep, or in more severe cases, all the time.

Additional Oxygen Options: Portable Oxygen Concentrators

portable oxygen concentratorsAvailable in many different varieties, they are at the forefront of innovation in oxygen technology. They are battery operated, portable, and use the normal ambient air around you to produce pure, medical grade oxygen for you to breathe.

Using a lightweight, portable oxygen concentrator not only relieves shortness of breath, it can also help you avoid back pain, but there could be othersReasons for back pain when breathing.what are you experiencing

The advantage of portable oxygen concentrators is that they don't need to be constantly refilled or replaced like other supplemental oxygen products. They also come in a variety of sizes, weights, and oxygen concentrations so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Small portable oxygen concentrators use a pulsed flow of oxygen and may not meet the needs of individuals who require large doses of oxygen on a continuous basis. However, larger devices can deliver more oxygen in a continuous flow.

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Talk to your doctor to determine how much oxygen you need and whether a continuous flow or pulse device is best for you. The most important thing is to make sure you find a device that will provide an adequate amount of oxygen and give you maximum comfort.

liquid oxygen

Liquid oxygen tanks are a popular option because they can be easily refilled from a home storage container. They last longer than standard oxygen cylinders and don't need to be replaced as often.

Unlike portable oxygen concentrators, liquid tanks carry the same risks as standard oxygen tanks. They must be handled carefully to avoid damage (and possible explosion) and are prohibited on airplanes.

However, the benefit is that it can deliver a higher volume of oxygen than a portable concentrator and is a better option for people with severely compromised lung function.

Standard oxygen cylinders

The standard supplemental oxygen tank is the most widely used oxygen supply for people with COPD. They are the traditional option and are usually less expensive, but have the disadvantage of being less convenient.

Standard oxygen tanks do not hold as much oxygen as liquid oxygen tanks and cannot be refilled from a home tank. Instead, standard cylinders must be picked up from an oxygen supplier and periodically replaced with a new cylinder.

Standard oxygen tanks come in a variety of sizes, from very large tanks for home use, to medium tanks that can be wheeled on carts, to small tanks that can be carried by hand. You should choose the option that best suits your individual lifestyle and allows you to continue living a full and active life.

Summary of Stage 3 COPD

By the time you have stage 3 COPD, your lung function has declined to the point where supplemental oxygen and more intensive medication are usually needed. Unlike the previous stages, stage 3 symptoms are very severe and require intensive treatment to control.

At this point, you'll likely meet with your doctor to have more frequent pulmonary function tests to see what medications are working and adjust your treatment plan if your symptoms change. You may need to use supplemental oxygen for physical activity or keep your oxygen levels stable overnight.

Generally, you will follow a more intensive and rigorous treatment plan that includes a healthy lifestyle, medication, and oxygen therapy. With a good doctor and proper monitoring, these steps should still help you control your symptoms and slow the progression of your disease.

Stage 4: very severe COPD

Receiving a stage 4 COPD diagnosis can be scary, to say the least. But while it's sometimes called end-stage COPD, it isNOthe end of your life and it isNOa death sentence.

At this stage, lung function has decreased to about 30% or less of normal (as determined by FEV1 testing). However, the severity of symptoms and how much they interfere with daily activities can vary greatly from person to person.

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Your quality of life in stage 4 is highly dependent on a healthy lifestyle and an effective, personalized treatment plan that includes medication and supplemental oxygen. Far from being conquered by their disease, many people with stage 4 COPD live happy, active lives for many years.

Because your symptoms worsen and are more difficult to treat at this stage of the disease, you need to be more vigilant than ever to follow and adjust your treatment plan if symptoms change or worsen. This means monitoring your symptoms closely with your doctor, taking your medications on time, and eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.


In stage 4, breathing without supplemental oxygen is often very difficult, and other symptoms such as headache and edema become more persistent. Also, the lack of oxygen in the blood begins to wear down the cardiovascular system, leading to heart and circulatory problems.

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You'll likely find that you get sick more often, your symptoms are more persistent, and you need more medical interventions or hospitalizations. Difficulty breathing at this point can be life-threatening and it is important to prevent exacerbations or to identify and treat them very early.

(Video) Stages of COPD

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with stage 4 COPD:

    • Severe difficulty breathing, obstruction of airflow
    • tightness in the chest
    • chest and abdominal pain
    • Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight
    • Cardiovascular problems
    • Depression
    • drowsiness and fatigue
    • confusion and disorientation
    • FEV1 below 30% of normal

Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and it's important to stay positive and optimistic. As long as you stay motivated to stay active, stick to your treatment, and focus on what you enjoy, you can truly make the most of your situation.

As the athlete with COPD says, "Your condition can be difficult to manage, but it can be done."

Stage 4 COPD treatment options

Treating stage 4 COPD requires more care and vigilance than ever before. Regular collaboration with your doctor is essential to adjust your medications and other treatments to meet your changing needs.

Typical treatment for stage 4 COPD usually includes:

  • Strict diet (nutritious whole foods, no processed foods, etc.)
  • Regular activity and a personalized training plan.
  • A regular medication schedule
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • A COPD action plan

You'll likely be spending more time with your doctor than before. Your doctor may need to do more frequent lung function tests and assess your symptoms to promptly identify and treat worsening.

You will continue to use supplemental oxygen and many of the treatment methods used for earlier stages of COPD, but at stage 4 you may have the option to consider some more drastic surgeries like lung surgery.

lung surgery

Lung surgery is a very invasive and serious procedure that is generally reserved as a last resort for people who cannot otherwise control their COPD.

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Whether or not you're a candidate for lung surgery depends largely on the severity of your symptoms, how difficult they are to treat, and how likely you are to recover well from the procedure.

When conventional treatments and oxygen therapy can no longer keep your symptoms at manageable levels, your doctor may recommend lung surgery.

Lung volume reduction surgery

It may sound counterproductiveto reduceLung volume to treat COPD, but this may make breathing easier. In lung volume reduction surgery, a surgeon removes some of the diseased tissue in the lungs to give the healthier tissue more room to breathe and expand.

This type of surgery can have many benefits, including less frequent exacerbations and an overall reduction in COPD symptoms. It can make breathing easier, allowing you to stay active and exercise without being held back by your debilitating symptoms.

However, only a few people are eligible and it is up to your doctor to decide if you would benefit from lung reduction surgery. It depends on the severity of your symptoms, your individual medical history, your current health status, and your personal risk of infection or other complications.

Good candidates for lung volume reduction surgery usually meet these criteria:

  • Severe emphysema unresponsive to conventional medications and therapies
  • Non-smokers who have stopped smoking for at least 4 months.
  • The disease allows certain parts of the lungs to effectively attack themselves
  • Under 75 years

Lung reduction surgery isn't a cure for COPD, but it can greatly reduce your symptoms and improve your ability to enjoy life. The extra hope, energy, and respite it gives you can help you stay active and continue treatment, which could slow the progression of the disease.

Lung surgery is much more than we can treat here. If you're ever a candidate for lung surgery, your doctor can help you better understand the procedure and its risks and benefits.

lung transplant

Another surgical option available to some patients with stage 4 COPD is whole lung transplantation. This is an extremely serious and risky procedure reserved as a last resort for people with the most severe and uncontrollable symptoms.

Your doctor probably won't recommend a lung transplant unless you cannot survive without it or your symptoms are so severe that you cannot have an adequate quality of life.

A lung transplant is expensive, dangerous and requires a long recovery. Even after a successful transplant, you must take immunosuppressants for life to avoid complications.

Good lung transplant candidates usually meet these criteria:

  • severe COPD, late stage
  • No smoker or drug user
  • Under 65 years
  • In good health to tolerate and recover from surgery
  • High probability of compliance with postoperative treatment and therapy

There are also other strict criteria as it is a very traumatic operation and organ transplants are in high demand. It is not suitable for everyone with stage 4 COPD.

Risks associated with a lung transplant:

  • Rejection of the new organ by your immune system
  • Increased risk of cancer and disease from immunosuppressive drugs
  • blood loss and blood clots.
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Kidney damage and stomach problems
  • acceleration of osteoporosis

Even if you are approved for a lung transplant, there are often long waiting lists for organs and there is no guarantee of finding a suitable organ. However, successful surgery can greatly reduce your symptoms and even prolong your life.

Overview of stage 4 COPD

Your symptoms in stage 4 COPD can be severe and difficult to manage, but that doesn't mean it's the end. At Level 4 there is no set timer or life expectancy, and you can live comfortably for many years to come.

The stigma and fear associated with this stage of the disease can be the most difficult to deal with, but it's important to remember that every person and patient is different. Your quality of life largely depends on living a healthy lifestyle, working with a good doctor, and maintaining your spirits and optimism.

COPD doesn't have to rule your life. If you remain hopeful, make healthy choices, and focus on your passions, you are already winning the battle against your illness.


The sooner you get COPD, the better your chances of slowing the progression of the disease and maintaining a high quality of life. Unfortunately, many people are not diagnosed until stage 2 or later because symptoms are more difficult to control at this point.

But no matter how advanced your disease is, there are many different treatment options and many ways to improve your symptoms and quality of life. With a bit of luck and motivation, you may even feel healthier and happier after treatment than you did before you were diagnosed.

Learning as much as possible about COPD and its different stages can empower you to take action and help reduce fear and uncertainty about the future. Understanding your particular stage of COPD can also help you better understand what kind of changes you can expect and what treatment options are available to manage your symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

If you are diagnosed with COPD, the best thing you can do is stay positive and proactively build a healthier lifestyle for yourself. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a support system of friends and doctors will make all the difference and help you live a full and comfortable life.

Living with COPD isn't easy, but making and following a good exercise, diet, and medication plan is definitely worth the effort.

As theCOPD athletessays, “Set a goal that will help you stay on track and always remember, no matter how hard it gets, there's always someone making it harder than you. Put simply, the body will do what the mind tells it to do!

Subjects:COPD,medication and treatment,Respiratory Resource Center,Portable oxygen concentrator,oxygen therapy

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