Diagnosis

Patient takes a deep breath and blows as hard as possible into tube

How is COPD Diagnosed?

A COPD diagnosis is typically confirmed with spirometry, which measures lung function. Spirometry is the most common way doctors evaluate the level of airflow obstruction. During a spirometry test, you'll be asked to blow into a large tube connected to a spirometer. This measures how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can expel that air from your lungs. Spirometry can detect COPD before you even experience any symptoms. Healthcare providers may also use chest x-rays or other tests to help diagnose COPD.1

A COPD diagnosis can feel like something that turns your life upside down, but there are a lot of things you can do to manage COPD that may help you maintain a positive outlook. If you think about it, the earlier you know that you have the disease, the sooner you can start to manage it. And with the proper treatment, many people are able to further slow down loss of lung function.2

If you are diagnosed, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication and suggest dietary changes and exercises.3

And don't forget that family and friends can be a tremendous source of support. If you are being tested for COPD, having a friend or family member with you may be helpful. Many find that getting support from others with the same condition may also be a good idea.4,5

References:
1. How is COPD diagnosed? NHLBI Web site. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/diagnosis.html.
2. How is COPD treated? NHLBI Web site. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/treatment.html. Paragraph 1
3.How is COPD treated? NHLBI Web site. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/treatment.html. "Other lifestyle changes" section, para 3,4; "Medicines" section
4.What you can do about a lung disease called COPD. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. http://www.goldcopd.org/uploads/users/files/GOLD_PatientGuide_2012.pdf.
5.Better Breathers Clubs. American Lung Association Web site. http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/connect-with-others/better-breathers-clubs/