COPD is a disease that progresses slowly. Lung damage, however, can develop long before you notice any symptoms. The sooner COPD is diagnosed, the sooner you can start treatment and stabilize your symptoms.
Doctors can tell if you have COPD by measuring the airflow of your lungs. Through a simple breathing test called spirometry, a machine measures your total lung capacity and how much air you can breathe out in one second, a reading called forced expiratory volume (FEV).
If your lungs are obstructed, you will not be able to breathe out as much air as someone without lung obstruction.
The GOLD international guidelines advise Spirometry as the gold standard for accurate diagnosis of COPD and repeatable measurement of lung function.
According to these results your doctor will diagnose your level of COPD
There are 4 stages or grades of COPD
- Stage 1 Early
- Stage 2 Moderate
- Stage 3 Severe
- Stage 4 Very Severe
Your doctor will assign grades to these 4 things:
- How severe your current symptoms are.
- Your spirometry results
- The chances that your COPD will get worse
- The presence of other health problems.