Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung ailment that obstructs the airflow to the lungs. Emphysema; chronic bronchitis; and, in some cases, asthma is part of COPD.
COPD causes lung complications as:
COPD affects the people who are middle-aged or older adults who smoke. In some cases, COPD occurs due to long-term exposure to toxic smoke, fumes, or dust.
The main symptoms of COPD are:
Stage 1: Early COPD
COPD symptoms of stage 1 are easy to miss as it could be an ongoing cough with phlegm and shortness of breath. But these symptoms are so mild that you may not consider them as COPD symptoms. Even though its stage 1, it is still damaging to the lungs. Speak with your physician if you suffer from the above symptoms, especially if you are a smoker.
Your doctor may prescribe medications that will relax your airways and make it easier for you to breathe, in addition to smoking cessation. Stage 1 COPD medications are taken through an inhaler. They have common side effects but if you experience severe side effects like allergic reaction with swelling or rash, rapid heart rate, or blurry vision, contact your physician immediately.
Your physician may recommend getting flu and pneumonia vaccines to prevent infections that may further complicate COPD.
Stage 2: Moderate COPD
In stage 2, the symptoms of the previous stage may worsen, and you may start to notice more coughing and mucus production. Especially in the mornings, with shortness of breath more prevalent when walking or exercising. People typically begin realising something wrong with their health and seek medical attention at this stage.
The doctor may prescribe medications and pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a part of treatment for Stage 2. Pulmonary rehab gives people with COPD the tools to manage their ailment by reducing the severity of symptoms and improving their quality of life. At this stage, you can get help from dieticians, nurses, physical therapists, caregivers, and other healthcare professionals who will help you with COPD treatment. Healthcare professionals will help with breathing exercises, nutritional advice, and other exercises that will help you better manage your stage 2 COPD symptoms.
Stage 3: Severe COPD
At stage 3, you will notice a significant impact on lung function. The lung’s air sacs continue to weaken, causing more breathing problems. The symptoms of the previous stages worsen, and in addition to that, you will notice other symptoms like:
The sudden flare-ups at stage 3 are more severe, causing more mucus to clog the bronchial tubes and constrict muscles around your airways, leading to hospitalisation.
To manage your Stage 3 flare-ups, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids to help treat acute flare-ups and inhaled corticosteroids to loosen up the mucus.
Stage 4: Very Severe COPD
At Stage 4 of COPD, your lung function is poor, and your stage 3 symptoms get more persistent and unmanageable. Tightness of the Chest and shortness of breath impacts daily activities. Breathing becomes an effort, and hospitalization due to lung infections and respiratory failure becomes common. Symptoms of stage 4 are:
To treat COPD at stage 4, your doctor may opt for various treatments like oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and steroids taken intravenously or through an inhaler. Lung transplant and lung surgery are other options. But it all depends on factors like lung function tests or whether you are strong enough for the procedure at this stage.
Sticking to the treatment prescribed by the doctor is essential to manage and slow down COPD progression. Getting the help of healthcare professionals like nurses, caregivers, and physical therapists to manage medicines and some treatments like oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation will benefit your health.
Identifying early signs and screening for COPD if you are a smoker it is crucial as you are at greater risk of developing lung disease. Quitting smoking is the best and best advice, as it can help you deal with COPD symptoms better.
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