How is COPD Diagnosed?

Are you concerned you might have COPD?

If you are experiencing some of the primary symptoms of COPD, such as shortness of breath, frequent coughing, and chest tightness and/or have a history of cigarette smoking, it’s possible you may have COPD. To determine if you do have this debilitating lung disease, your doctor might recommend one or more of the following tests used to diagnose COPD.

Scans and X-Rays

  • Chest X-Ray: In a small minority of people, a chest X-ray can help to diagnose emphysema, one of the diseases associated with COPD. It can also help to rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as lung cancer and/or heart failure.
  • CT Scan: A CT scan uses a number of X-ray images of your chest taken from different angles to create a detailed image of your lungs. It can detect emphysema or help determine if surgery would be beneficial.

Lab Tests

  • Blood Gas Analysis: This type of blood test determines how well your lungs are exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood and can determine whether or not your lungs are functioning efficiently.
  • Mucus Examination: By analyzing the cells in the mucus produced by your coughing, doctors can help to determine the cause of your lung problems and rule out some types of lung cancer. Examining your mucus also allows doctors to identify and treat bacteria in the mucus before it can create more serious problems.

Lung Function Tests

The most important and accurate test for diagnosing COPD and its stage is called spirometry. During this type of test, your doctor will ask you to blow into a tube connected to a spirometer. The spirometer measures the amount of air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can expel it from your lungs. This type of test can often diagnose COPD before you even begin to feel symptoms and can be a useful tool throughout the progression of the disease for determining the effectiveness of treatment.

If you are concerned you might have COPD, it’s important to talk to a doctor and begin treatment before your symptoms worsen. For more information or to speak to a COPD expert, contact the Royal Medical Group today.