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If you’ve been diagnosed with Stage III COPD (severe), airflow limitation worsens as your lung function continues to decline. Your forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) is between 30% and 49% of the predicted normaland you’re growing increasingly aware of the impact the disease is having on your life as work and chores around the house become more difficult.
Thankfully, COPD treatment and lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms and the daily challenges you’re going to face as you move forward in the disease.
Symptoms of Stage III COPD generally worsen at this point and sometimes even result in hospitalization. They may include:2
As with other stages of the disease, a diagnosis of Stage III, severe COPD begins with your doctor performing a physical examination and asking you questions about your health and smoking histories. She’ll also want to know if you’ve been exposed to other airway irritants, such as secondhand smoke or dust and chemicals in the workplace.2
You’ll complete a battery of tests, starting with spirometry, a simple breathing test that confirms the presence of COPD and gauges its severity. As previously mentioned, an FEV1 (measurement taken during test) ranging from 30% to 49% indicates you are in the severe stage of the disease.
Other tests that may be ordered include chest X-ray, CT scan, blood work and exercise testing. Together, these tests will reveal how well your lungs are functioning and the impact the disease has had on other organs in your body.2
Even though the disease is this advanced, there are steps you can take to help preserve the lung function you still have and slow further progression of the disease:1
For more information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Stage III COPD, talk to your primary care provider or pulmonologist.
 Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. (GOLD 2018 Strategies for Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of COPD.
 Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. GOLD 2018 Strategies for Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of COPD.