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COPD Symptoms, Signs & Stages

What are the symptoms and stages of COPD?

copd symptoms, copd stages, copd signs, living with copd, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, copd treatment, copd treatmentsChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects your lungs, making it difficult to breathe. At the beginning, early signs of COPD may be mild, and may even go unnoticed. But over time, COPD symptoms tend to get worse.

COPD symptoms are slow to develop and vary depending on the stage of the disease. No two people will experience the exact same symptoms, but everyone with COPD will eventually notice that it is more difficult to participate in their everyday activities. As COPD stages progress, you may notice daily activities become more difficult.

To measure the impact of COPD and assess which stage you are experiencing, your doctor may give you a COPD assessment test to help diagnose and manage your unique symptoms. The COPD test involves breathing in and out of a machine called a spirometer. Your doctor then compares the results to what is expected from a person with healthy lungs, and measures the results according to various stages.

Stage One COPD Symptoms

Even in the beginning, mild COPD may present obvious symptoms and signs of COPD. People often dismiss a cough or fatigue as a side effect of smoking or advancing age. In the early stage of the disease, your lungs are still functioning at or above 80% of normal lung capacity.

Stage Two COPD Symptoms

As the disease advances, the symptoms of COPD become more of an issue. Lungs are functioning between 50 and 80% of normal lung capacity. Signs of COPD at this stage usually involve a chronic cough. Coughing is the body’s way of naturally removing mucus from the lungs, but with COPD the urge to cough becomes more persistent. It may be worse in the morning, during exercise or when smoking. You may also wheeze, producing a whistling sound when you breathe as air is forced through obstructions in your airways.

Many people also experience shortness of breath during second stage COPD as airways become inflamed and constricted. This COPD symptom makes it hard to breathe normally, especially when you are physically active. Even small tasks like bathing or getting dressed in the morning can cause shortness of breath. As a result, oxygen levels in your blood and muscles drop, increasing fatigue. In addition, you may feel tired because your lungs are working overtime to bring in more oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Stage Three COPD Symptoms

At the third stage, your lungs are only functioning at between 30 and 50% of their normal capacity. More severe COPD signs and symptoms include feeling more fatigued and short of breath, and you may suffer frequent exacerbations. Exacerbations are flare-ups where COPD symptoms worsen and last longer, in some cases leading to hospitalization. COPD exacerbations can be caused by infections or air pollution.

Frequent respiratory infections are common with COPD sufferers because your lungs cannot clear themselves of irritants, bacteria and viruses. Many people with stage three COPD battle frequent bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia as their COPD symptoms progress.

Stage Four or End Stage COPD Symptoms

The fourth stage of COPD is often referred to as “end stage.” While that sounds daunting, you can live with stage four COPD for years with proper care and a COPD treatment program prescribed by your doctor. Today’s medical and technological advancements can enhance quality of life while living with COPD symptoms.

At stage four, your lungs are functioning at less than 30% of their normal capacity. This stage presents the worst signs and symptoms of COPD, with COPD symptoms occurring even when you’re resting. People with end stage COPD may lose weight rapidly as the body uses extra energy and calories to bring in the oxygen it needs. Advanced COPD symptoms include morning headaches due to heightened levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and swollen feet due to the higher levels of stress placed on the heart.

Some symptoms of COPD are more severe and may require emergency medical attention if they last longer or become worse than usual. If your lips or fingernails turn blue, or it becomes difficult to speak or breathe for long periods of time, it could be a sign that the blood contains extremely low levels of oxygen. In addition, if you feel overly confused or have a rapid heartbeat, talk to your doctor as quickly as possible. The information presented here should give you a better understanding of different COPD stages.

How Inogen Can Help with COPD

Even in its early stages, COPD signs and symptoms make it difficult to take part in daily activities. As your COPD stages progress, it becomes harder and harder to live normally, but Inogen can help. The Inogen One’s portability makes it an excellent solution for helping to treat the breathing difficulties associated with COPD. As fatigue begins to set in with lower blood oxygen levels, oxygen therapy helps improve blood oxygen levels, which helps decrease fatigue, breathlessness and the anxiety associated with breathing difficulty. With oxygen therapy, patients may also experience improved sleep, alertness and mood. Inogen believes that experiencing these benefits shouldn’t keep you tethered to stationary oxygen tanks, so the Inogen One portable oxygen concentrator allows you to get the oxygen therapy you need, while still allowing you to participate more easily in your life.

At Inogen, our mission is to improve the quality of life for supplemental oxygen users. Our compact, lightweight and travel-approved portable oxygen concentrators can help alleviate some of your COPD symptoms while freeing you from carrying heavy tanks and managing refills. Our goal is to provide you with cost-effective home health care equipment that improves your freedom, independence and mobility, even if you’re experiencing end stage COPD symptoms. With the Inogen One System, you can treat your COPD symptoms with the oxygen therapy you need, without being tethered to your tank.

No matter which of the COPD stages you are experiencing, your COPD symptoms and treatment don’t have to hold you back from your life. Inogen can help with COPD symptoms, so you can enjoy oxygen anytime, anywhere. Even as your needs change, our Inogen One System can help you regain your independence, at home and away, with a system engineered to meet the changing demands of the oxygen industry. Designed to be used as a stationary and portable device, the Inogen One helps you participate in a more active life by allowing you to come and go as you please. Even if you’re living with end stage COPD, you could prolong your life by treating severely low blood oxygen levels with long-term oxygen therapy for at least 15 hours per day. With this level of oxygen therapy, the portability and freedom of the Inogen One System is especially beneficial.

Industry experts have described Inogen One as “a technological breakthrough” for redefining how oxygen therapy is delivered. It can help you improve your quality of life while helping to treat your COPD signs and symptoms. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms may affect how you live your life, but with Inogen One, your oxygen therapy treatment doesn’t need to slow you down. Make an appointment with your doctor to find out more about how our oxygen concentrator can help you.

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