Stage I (Early Stage) COPD

People in this stage of COPD are at low risk of exacerbation and experience only minor symptoms. Those at high risk for developing COPD, such as those who smoke or used to smoke, should be aware of possible signs of the disease and seek medical treatment immediately. The earlier you receive treatment, the more slowly the disease will progress.

When COPD first develops, you may notice an ongoing cough, which can be clear or produce mucus. Shortness of breath can occur, especially during physical activity. Most people with Stage I COPD show at least 80 percent of expected lung function.

If you are diagnosed with Stage I COPD, your doctor may prescribe a fast-acting inhaler that you can use when you have difficulty breathing. It’s important to get your flu and pneumonia shot each year, since these illnesses can make COPD worse. You also need to get regular physical activity as long as your doctor says it’s safe for you to do so. This can strengthen your muscles and prevent the disease from progressing.

You must quit smoking to stay healthy with COPD. The disease worsens much more quickly among those who continue to smoke. Even in the late stages of the disease, it’s not too late to take advantage of the health benefits of quitting.