The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) classifies COPD into four stages, with mild COPD being Stage I of the disease. If you are diagnosed with Stage I, your ratio of FEV1 to FVC as measured by spirometry should fall below 70% and your FEV1 should be greater than or equal to 80% predicted of a healthy population.
The good news about being in the early stages of the disease is that you can easily slow its progression, as long as you're willing to make a few basic lifestyle changes and follow your COPD treatment plan. What should that treatment plan consist of? Let's take a look.
Quitting smoking is the most important aspect of COPD treatment at any stage of the disease. Not only does smoking cessation make you feel better physically and emotionally, but it will ultimately (dramatically in some cases) slow the progression of the disease.
According to GOLD, flu shots can reduce COPD morbidity and mortality rates by about 50 percent. Additionally, the pneumonia vaccine is recommended for those who are 65 years of age and older because it reduces the chances of aquiring bacterial pneumonia, a very common cause of COPD exacerbation.
Although bronchodilators do little to modify lung function decline during stage I, mild COPD, short-acting bronchodilators like Albuterol or Proventil (also known as rescue inhalers) are recommended on an as-needed basis for the relief of persistent or worsening COPD symptoms.
It's true, a healthy diet cannot cure COPD, but it can help you feel better and give you more energy for all of your daily activities, including breathing. Eating right can also help you fight chest infections, which are common among patients with COPD.
The importance of daily exercise is often overlooked when deciding upon a COPD treatment plan. But an exercise program can help you regain a sense of control over your life, increase your self-esteem and improve your overall quality of life, no matter where you're at in the course of your disease.
- The Basis of Exercise for People With COPD
- The Benefits of Walking for COPD Patients
- Top 10 Exercise Videos for the Chronically Ill
Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease. Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of COPD. Updated 2010.