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How is COPD diagnosed?

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In brief: Diagnosis of COPD

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you.
He or she may also ask you about your medical history. If your doctor thinks you have COPD, he or she will ask you about the problems you have had with your chest and how long you have had them. He or she will usually examine your chest with a stethoscope, listening for noises such as wheezing or crackles.

Your doctor may also perform a lung test called a spirometry test. You will be asked to blow into a device that measures how much and how fast you can force air out from your lungs. Different lung problems produce different results so this test helps to separate COPD from other chest conditions such as asthma.

Other tests you might have include:


• a blood test to look for anaemia or signs of infection
• a chest X-ray to see if your lungs show signs of COPD, and to exclude other lung diseases
• a CT scan to build up a three-dimensional picture of your lungs to rule out other diseases
• an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the electrical impulses from your heart to check if you have heart and/or lung disease
• an echocardiogram to see if your heart is working as it should
• a pulse oximeter to monitor the oxygen concentration in your bloodstream to see if you need oxygen therapy
• an antitrypsin deficiency test - you may need this if your COPD developed when you were 40 or younger or if you don’t smoke

In brief: Diagnosis of COPD

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you.
He or she may also ask you about your medical history. If your doctor thinks you have COPD, he or she will ask you about the problems you have had with your chest and how long you have had them. He or she will usually examine your chest with a stethoscope, listening for noises such as wheezing or crackles.

Your doctor may also perform a lung test called a spirometry test. You will be asked to blow into a device that measures how much and how fast you can force air out from your lungs. Different lung problems produce different results so this test helps to separate COPD from other chest conditions such as asthma.

Other tests you might have include:


• a blood test to look for anaemia or signs of infection
• a chest X-ray to see if your lungs show signs of COPD, and to exclude other lung diseases
• a CT scan to build up a three-dimensional picture of your lungs to rule out other diseases
• an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the electrical impulses from your heart to check if you have heart and/or lung disease
• an echocardiogram to see if your heart is working as it should
• a pulse oximeter to monitor the oxygen concentration in your bloodstream to see if you need oxygen therapy
• an antitrypsin deficiency test - you may need this if your COPD developed when you were 40 or younger or if you don’t smoke
Quality HealthCare Team
Quality HealthCare Team
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Dr. Aaron Milstone
Board Certified, Internal Medicine - Pulmonology
24 years in practice
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