living with copd

How Is COPD Diagnosed?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can present itself in several ways. Often, patients fail to seek help until COPD has reached moderate severity. The sooner a person gets diagnosed, however, the sooner treatment can began and damage can be reduced.

Should I Get Tested?

Yes, you should get tested if you have any of these warning signs:

  • A history of smoking
  • Long-term exposure to harmful inhalants like chemicals, secondhand smoke, or even pollution
  • Chronic wheezing
  • Chronic coughing of any kind
  • Worsening shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or reduced physical abilities, especially compared with people of similar age

By far the most common cause of COPD is regular exposure to toxic inhalants, so anyone who has a history of smoking or who works around chemicals should get tested. Genetics can also be a factor. If there is family history of COPD, a person experiencing any of the related symptoms should be tested.

What Tests Are Used?

The most common test used to diagnose COPD is spirometry. A spirometer is a machine attached to a tube and mouthpiece. When a person blows into the mouthpiece, completely emptying his or her lungs, the machine records how much air is blown during the first second and how much is blown after 6 seconds. These two numbers give doctors an idea of how well a person’s lungs are functioning.

A few other tests may also be requested. A doctor may want a chest x-ray or CT scan to rule other possible causes for the lung obstruction. Bronchodilator Reversibility Testing may also be administered to see if medication helps.


Where Can I Get Tested?

If you think you may be at risk for COPD, give us a call right away. Asthma & Allergy Associates of Colorado Springs diagnoses and treats patients with COPD. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner steps can be taken to mitigate the damage that already exists.

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