Stages of Emphysema

Emphysema is separated into four stages: at-risk, mild emphysema, moderate emphysema, and severe emphysema. In order to determine if someone has emphysema and which stage he or she is in, the doctor will use a breathing test called spirometry. Spirometry is the most sensitive and commonly used test of lung functions -- it is able to detect emphysema long before a person has significant symptoms.

Determining the Stages of Emphysema

In order to determine if someone has emphysema and the stage of emphysema, your doctor will use a breathing test called spirometry. This test is easy and painless and shows how well your lungs work. You breathe hard into a large hose connected to a machine called a spirometer. When you breathe out, the spirometer measures how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can blow air out of your lungs after taking a deep breath.
 
Spirometry is the most sensitive and commonly used test of lung functions. It can detect emphysema long before you have significant symptoms.
 

What Are the Stages of Emphysema?

Based on this test, your doctor can determine if you have emphysema and how severe it is (the stage of emphysema).
 
The various stages of emphysema include:
 
  • At-risk
  • Mild emphysema
  • Moderate emphysema
  • Severe emphysema.
     
At-Risk
In the at-risk stage of emphysema, the breathing test is normal. Mild symptoms of at-risk emphysema include a chronic cough and sputum production.
 
Mild Emphysema
In the mild stage of emphysema, the breathing test shows mild airflow limitation. Symptoms may include a chronic cough and sputum production. At this stage of emphysema, you may not be aware that airflow in your lungs is reduced.
 

Information on Emphysema

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