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What Does Borderline COPD Mean? 9 Initial COPD Signs You Must Know!

Are you just diagnosed with COPD or are you on the borderline? Well, in both cases, if you want to live long, you need to make many important changes to your lifestyle! COPD stands among the top 3 death-causing diseases in the United States but why is it so common? Well, smoking is the actual culprit behind this deadly disease and this might sound strange, but smokers are mostly at the borderline of developing COPD!    

So, What does borderline COPD mean?  

Well, borderline COPD is the point when you’re the closest to developing COPD. It is a group of chronic disorders characterized by either damage to the air sacs of the lungs or by the hyperactivation of the goblet glands (which produce mucus). Whatever the condition is, the disease remains untreatable however, the symptoms can be managed by using different strategies.  

In this write-up, I’ll share with you a detailed description of how COPD starts, what does borderline COPD mean, its stages, tips to slow down its progress, and a lot more! So, read on! 

COPD is a life-long serious illness that is either caused due to the inflammation of the lung epithelium or when the alveoli commonly known as air sacs are damaged.

Table of Content

What Does Borderline COPD Mean?

Borderline COPD is a condition in which the patient is on the verge of developing COPD’s early symptoms. One can get to know whether he is near to COPD or not by a technique known as spirometry. It tells you the functioning of your lungs by evaluating the forced expiratory volume in one second. 


You must be wondering how quickly can copd develop, it takes years for the disease to progress and finally appear as symptoms. People above forty years of age are at the highest risk for developing the disease. 

The progress of COPD is divided into four stages based on the severity and symptoms of the disorder. These are,

  • Stage 1: Mild COPD 
  • Stage 2: Moderate COPD 
  • Stage 3: Severe COPD 
  • Stage 4: Very severe COPD

How Does COPD Start?

COPD is a life-long serious illness that is either caused due to the inflammation of the lung epithelium or when the alveoli commonly known as air sacs are damaged. The word pulmonary means “in the lungs” so all those diseases having pulmonary in them are actually lung diseases. COPD is not a single disease, in fact, it is a house that accommodates a bunch of chronic lung diseases caused due to airflow obstruction in the respiratory passage.

The name itself indicates that it is not a disease you can get rid of in a day or two. In fact, once you get diagnosed with COPD, you’ll have to adjust your lifestyle accordingly to survive. The two most common diseases falling in COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema which can even be fatal.   

Chronic Bronchitis 

It is a long-term inflammatory condition caused due to excessive smoking or due to inhaling chemical irritants that are harmful to the body. Your lungs have their own mechanism of getting rid of all the harmful particles from the inhaled air by trapping them into mucus


When you smoke frequently, the lungs have to produce more and more mucus to trap the harmful smoke particles. Now that the mucus-producing cells increase in number, the secretions also increase drastically thereby causing airflow obstruction. 

Moreover, there is no treatment for chronic bronchitis as it is a life-long disorder so, to prevent it, all you can do is avoid pollutants, practice proper hygiene, and improve your lifestyle. 


In your lungs, the gaseous exchange takes place in the smaller units called alveoli which if not function properly can lead to death. In emphysema, the alveolar walls become loose which badly affects the mechanism of gaseous exchange. 

So, Can COPD start suddenly? Well, these are not the kinds of disorders that would develop within a day or week, in fact, years of damage to the lungs lead to the appearance of beginning signs of COPD. Although, COPD isn’t curable, but this doesn’t mean that all patients with COPD die as it can easily be prevented by making simple changes to lifestyle.  


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease either attacks the epithelial lining of the lungs or the air sacs called alveoli. It gradually progresses over time and is more common in older people. 

Early Stages of COPD

The progress of the disorder is evaluated by using a technique called spirometry which calculates the amount of air you’re inhaling and exhaling. When it comes to stages, the mild COPD symptoms might not give you an accurate indication of the early signs of pulmonary disease. Patients usually remain confused and ignore stage 1 symptoms which include, 

Although these symptoms aren’t that painful, remember the disease is still progressing! The more you delay your checkup, the more damage occurs. So, if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, then just go for a quick check-up and lab assessment. 

What Are The Early Warning Signs Of COPD?

As I mentioned above, COPD has no cure but that doesn’t mean it will always be fatal! An early investigation can help you add some new habits to your daily routine which might prevent further damage to the lungs such as quitting smoking. Early signs of copd are:


Is Mild COPD Serious and Curable?

If diagnosed earlier, this mild pulmonary disease can be well-managed by following the guidelines of your health care adviser. Considering your stage, your doctor will suggest you some exercise, a healthy diet, and some lifestyle changes to cease the progress of the disease. The treatment for early COPD includes,

  • Quit smoking 
  • Wear a mask in air polluted areas
  • Get all your vaccinations done
  • Avoid unhealthy food
  • Must use your bronchodilator

However, can mild COPD be cured? Unfortunately, even if you catch the first signs of copd, it cannot be cured completely as there is no treatment available for it. All you can do is, follow the aforementioned guidelines, and either prevent it or slow down its progress.  

How to Tell if You Have COPD? 

You might be suffering from COPD for months or even years and you’d still not be able to realize you have it! Well, you might remain unaware of the fact that you’ve COPD till the time it becomes a hurdle in your daily chores. Breathing difficulty even while performing the easiest chores is the pinpoint to take notice and to start looking for other symptoms too. 

If you experience shortness of breath in tasks that were once easy for you, then you must go for spirometry. Early COPD prognosis can help a lot in the betterment of the condition. Following are the COPD primary symptoms which if experienced, must be discussed with the doctor, 

  • Breathing difficulty even in low-effort tasks.
  • You’re in a confused state.
  • If you experience any frequent chest infections. 
  • Hypersecretion of mucus. 
  • If you experience abnormal sounds from the chest while breathing such as wheezing or gurgling. 


Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about what does borderline COPD mean.    

Questions: What are the first symptoms of COPD?

The initial symptoms of COPD are common and almost all of the patients experience it. The most prominent symptom of COPD is difficulty in breathing while other symptoms include persistent cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. However, most of the patients intentionally avoid such signs which leads to a faster progression of the disease.

Questions: How fast does mild COPD progress?

There isn’t any hard and fast rule for the progress of COPD as it entirely depends upon your age and lifestyle. If you are a smoker, and you’re not quitting it, then COPD will flare up because of the hypersecretion of mucus to tackle the increasing quantities of harmful particles.  However, if you follow the guidelines of your doctor, then the progress of mild COPD can be slowed down and your life expectancy can increase by 10-20 years.  

Questions: Can COPD be reversed with exercise?

No! Exercise cannot reverse the condition at all! However, some healthy exercises such as jogging, cycling, low-impact aerobics, swimming, and resistance training can help you in improving the symptoms by slowing down the progression of the disease and can also boost your body’s metabolism. 


Now, you must be well aware of what does borderline COPD mean and what are the early warning signs of COPD you must be aware of! All in all, if you experience breathing problems, persistent cough, and other related symptoms, then without any delay, just go for a spirometry test.

COPD’s initial symptoms can be well-managed if diagnosed on time. However, if you delay your check-up, then the disease would exacerbate. Quitting smoking, eating healthy food, and adding exercises such as low-impact aerobics can help in slowing down the progress.

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