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COPD Stage 1 (Mild) is where you want to catch the disease to be diagnosed. However, due to the lack of symptoms it often goes undiagnosed until a later stage. The main reason COPD Stage 1 symptoms go unnoticed is because according to GOLD guidelines, stage 1 COPD patients still have an FEV1 of 80% or higher. A lot of times, patients can attribute their COPD symptoms to a few different things including:
- Old age
- Getting a cold
So rather than going to the doctor to see if anything is wrong, these symptoms get written off as something minor.
Symptoms: COPD Stage 1 only has a couple of different symptoms and they really aren’t too severe than other COPD stages :
- Minor airflow limitations
- Increase in mucus production
- Possible chronic cough
- Fatigue sets in faster and easier
COPD Stage 2 (Moderate): Although some people still ignore the warning signs, stage 2 COPD is typically when most patients really start to notice their symptoms and seek medical help. As other symptoms become more prevalent with COPD, chances are your lung function is also declining. According to GOLD guidelines, stage 2 COPD patients have an FEV1 of 50-79%.
Symptoms: Stage 2 COPD symptoms are more severe and persistent than stage 1 symptoms. You may also experience more COPD symptoms, in addition to your original stage 1 symptoms:
- Increased breathlessness, especially after exertion
- Airflow limitations worsen
- Cough severity worsens and becomes more persistent
- Increased phlegm production
- Phlegm is harder to expel
The most significant difference between COPD stages 1 and 2 is the symptom severity and how often you experience your symptoms. Symptoms in stage 2 are typically too severe and persistent to ignore.
COPD Stage 3 (Severe) : At stage 3 COPD, symptoms are far too debilitating to ignore any longer. Along with the common COPD symptoms you may begin to experience more advanced symptoms that indicate your COPD is more severe than other COPD stages. And according to GOLD guidelines, stage 3 COPD patients have an FEV1 of 30-49%. Stage 3 COPD treatment becomes a little more intense than with previous COPD stages.