What Are the Four Stages of COPD and the Gold System for Grading?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is a severe lung condition that worsens over time and makes breathing difficult. Because it deteriorates with time, the signs and symptoms also become more severe as time goes on.

COPD is most often caused by smoking, but environmental factors like air pollution, certain respiratory infections, and other diseases also cause it. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) shows itself in three main ways: shortness of breath, wheezing, and a persistent cough.

In this blog, we will talk about COPD's different stages and the GOLD grading system.

The Four Stages of COPD

Four distinct stages can be identified in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When determining a person's stage, doctors look at their symptoms and how well their lungs function.

The first stage of COPD is mild

You might have mild symptoms like a persistent cough, tightness in your chest, and trouble breathing after working out. You may also notice that your mucus production increases and that you can't do much physical activity.

At this point in the disease, the main goal of treatment is to make the symptoms less harmful and stop the disease from getting worse. This can be done by changing one's lifestyle, like quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke and other environmental irritants.

Bronchodilators and inhaled steroids are two types of drugs that can be used to treat COPD to relieve symptoms and improve lung function.

The second stage of COPD is moderate

At this point, your symptoms will become more noticeable. For example, you will feel short of breath more often, and the amount of mucus you make will go up. On top of that, you might feel more tired and have coughing fits.

As the disease worsens, you may have trouble doing the most basic tasks regularly. At this stage, the treatment includes changes to the patient's way of life, medicine, and oxygen therapy.

The third stage of COPD is severe

At this point, your symptoms will worsen and make it hard for you to do anything. You may have a persistent cough that produces mucus, trouble breathing, be very tired, and have regular times when your symptoms worsen.

You may also have trouble doing the things you need to do every day to stay alive. At this stage, the treatment usually involves more potent drugs, like long-term oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.

The person may also have to go through pulmonary rehabilitation. It is also possible that you will need surgery to help improve your ability to breathe.

The fourth and final stage of COPD is very severe:

Your symptoms will be terrible, and you may need extra oxygen and other treatments to help you breathe. There is also a chance that you will feel exhausted all the time, lose weight, and get sick more often.

At this stage of the disease, most people are treated with a mix of drugs, oxygen therapy, and changes to their way of life.

No treatment or cure for COPD is currently available. However, some medications can assist in managing the symptoms and reduce the condition's advancement. It is essential to have a solid understanding of the four phases of COPD to identify any potential signs and symptoms and seek medical assistance when necessary.

The GOLD System for Grading

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, also known as GOLD, has developed this plan. When it comes to determining how to diagnose and treat COPD, the GOLD grading system is a vital tool that can be utilized.

The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) uses a scoring system from 0 to 4 to categorize patients with COPD into one of four stages: mild, moderate, severe, or extremely severe. A person's progression through these stages is determined by how effectively his lungs function and how sick he feels.

Using this scoring system, doctors can learn more about a patient's condition and choose the best course of treatment. In addition, it allows more accurate comparisons between people whose conditions are on different levels of severity. It also lets researchers track how COPD changes in a community over time.

The GOLD system is based on the following factors −

  • Lung function (measured by a test called spirometry)

  • Symptoms (such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing)

  • Quality of life

  • Risk of exacerbations (periods of worsening symptoms)

  • Use of medications

The GOLD system for grading has been a beneficial tool for doctors and researchers because it gives a standard, evidence-based way to test and treat COPD.

Treatment Options

COPD can be treated in several ways, and these ways change depending on how bad the disease is. Medicines like bronchodilators, steroids, and antibiotics are often therapy's first line of defense.

Changing a person's lifestyle and using these medicines can help manage COPD symptoms. Along with eating well and exercising regularly, quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to treat this condition.

In some cases, surgery may be suggested to lessen the effects of COPD on the lungs and airways. Working with a doctor to determine the most effective COPD treatment plan is the best way to do this.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is a hazardous lung illness that, over time, worsens and makes breathing harder. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be controlled either medically by making adaptations to a patient's way of life or even surgically, depending on the degree to which the ailment has progressed, and his overall medical condition.

It is essential to have an in-depth understanding of the GOLD grading system and the four stages of COPD. It is possible to differentiate between the four stages by seeing how well a person's lungs function and how sick he feels at various stages. People who have COPD are placed into one of four categories by the GOLD system according to their score, which can vary from 0 to 4.