COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
When you have COPD:
Many people with COPD have attacks called flare-ups or exacerbations (say "egg-ZASS-er-BAY-shuns"). This is when your usual symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse. A COPD flare-up can be dangerous, and you may have to go to the hospital.
Work with your doctor to make a plan for dealing with a COPD flare-up. If you are prepared, you may be able to get it under control. Try not to panic if you start to have one. Quick treatment at home may help you manage serious breathing problems.
The stages of COPD
The stages of COPD are often defined according to your symptoms plus a measure of how well your lungs work, called your "lung function."
In the following symptoms lists, lung function FEV1 is a test result that shows how fast you can breathe air out of your lungs. FEV1 stands for forced expiratory volume in 1 second.
FEV1 can be measured by machines called spirometers (say "spy-RAW-muh-terz"). The test result is reported as a percentage of normal. In other words, an FEV1 of 100% means the lungs are working normally; 80% is less than normal; 30% is very much less than normal.
FVC (forced vital capacity) is another value obtained by spirometry. It is a measure of how much air can be blown out after inhaling in. Sometimes the FEV1/FVC ratio is used to confirm a diagnose of COPD or other lung diseases.
Here is how the stages of COPD are described by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, also known as GOLD:5
Mild COPD (stage 1)
Moderate COPD (stage 2)
Severe COPD (stage 3)
Very severe COPD (stage 4)
COPD and asthma
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