Stages of COPD
The first symptoms of COPD tend to come on slowly and can be very mild. In the early stages, you may not have symptoms all the time and you may find there is very little or no impact on your life or independence. You may cough up mucus in the mornings or feel more short of breath than usual if you walk quickly or exert yourself.
As COPD progresses, you may gradually notice symptoms almost every day and find it harder to do your normal daily activities such as gardening, hanging out the washing, or carrying groceries without feeling short of breath. You may also experience a repetitive cough, and increased phlegm production which is often thick and white or brownish in colour. Feeling tired and getting more chest infections or taking longer to recover from an illness can also be experienced in the moderate stage of COPD.
In severe COPD, you will likely experience symptoms most of the time. You may find it very hard to walk upstairs or across the room without feeling very short of breath, feel tired more of the time despite resting and cough frequently with a lot more mucus. It is common to feel frustrated with the constant need to clear your mucus from your airways and to experience frequent chest infections that take several weeks to recover from.
Reducing your symptoms
Many people find using a battery operated fan can help control breathlessness, and research has shown that a cool draft of air from a hand-held fan can be very effective in reducing symptoms. You can use your fan as often and for as long as you like. Keep it handy when at home and also take it with you when you go out. You may find it helpful to use your fan if you stop for a ‘breather’ after doing an activity that makes you breathless, such as walking, climbing stairs or for sudden breathlessness when you are still.