Stage 1 COPD : Mild
The first signs of COPD can sometimes go unnoticed or undiagnosed because of their similarities to symptoms of other less severe conditions. If you have had an allergy or a recent cold, you may have symptoms that they share with COPD. Similarly, if you are a long-term smoker or a person who would be considered elderly, you may have already encountered your COPD symptoms as a general decline in health.
There is no cure for any stage of the disease, but the sooner you catch, the sooner you can start treatment. This gives you the best chance to slow down and have a good quality of life as long as possible.
RELATED: The Four Stages of COPD
What Are The Symptoms For Stage 1 COPD?
It often starts with a throbbing cough. It could be dry, or you could have mucus that is clear, white, yellow or green. You may also find that you are short of breath sometimes, especially if you push yourself.
At this point, the symptoms may not seem like a big deal. You may be thinking that they are just about getting older or that maybe you are not as fit as you used to be.
But trouble breathing and a regular cough are not things to ignore. If you have them, check with your doctor.
How Does My Doctor Check For Stage 1 COPD?
Your doctor will ask you about your health history and also about your family. You will have a physical exam, very often it does not show much until the disease is more advanced.
RELATED: How COPD Stages are Determined?
Then you will need some tests. The same can be used at any stage of the disease:
Spirometry –This is a simple breath test that tells you if you have COPD and at what stage it is.
You take a deep breath and blow hard into a tube, which is connected to a machine called a spirometer. Then you inhale a medicine that will open your airways and blow into the tube again.
The test will tell you:
- How much air you exhale, called Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)
- How much of this air was released in the first second, called expiratory volume (FEV1)
- Your doctor uses these results to create a third number that tells you how much your lungs are working. If the figure is less than 70%, then you have COPD.
- Then FEV1 tells you the scene. If it is 80% or more, you are at Stage I.
You can get several other tests to find more information, such as:
Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency test
Your doctor checks your blood for a problem in your genes that can cause COPD. You would probably get this test if you have less than 45 and COPD in your family.
CT or Chest X-ray
It shows if you have emphysema, which is a vital sign of COPD.
Other pulmonary tests –
Learning things like how much air your lungs can hold and how they take oxygen can give more details about COPD.
6 minutes walk test. It tells you how far you can walk in 6 minutes to assess how much exercise you can safely do.
Tests to check the gases in the blood
The levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood give more details on how your lungs work.
How Is Stage 1 COPD Treated?
Your doctor may give you a medicine that you inhale called a short-acting bronchodilator, also known as a “quick relief” or “rescue” inhaler. It relaxes the muscles of your airways to facilitate breathing. You take when you need to get relief from coughing and shortness of breath.
At any time during COPD, your doctor will probably suggest that you:
- Get vaccines against influenza and pneumonia.
- Follow the physical activity. Your doctor can help you understand what is safe for you. It can be difficult, but when you keep moving, it strengthens the muscles that help you breathe. Plus, it is important for your overall health.
- Stop smoking. It is the most important thing you can do to stop COPD from getting worse. It’s never too late, even at an advanced stage.