The Importance of Comorbid Conditions
Most COPD patients have other chronic medical problems as well. These may include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and cancer. These other conditions are called "comorbidities." In recent years the link between COPD and these other conditions has attracted a great deal of attention. For some reason comorbid conditions seem to be more common in people with COPD than in patients with other...
Your and any housemate's
use of tobacco: whether any of you smoke, how long you've smoked, how
many cigarettes a day you smoke, how long ago you quit smoking, whether you
feel you can quit smoking, and more.
Exposure to airborne
irritants, such as dust or chemicals, on the job.
Family history of respiratory
Other medical conditions you may have and their
How your condition is affecting your quality of life:
missed work, disrupted routines, and depression, for example.
name and dose of all of the medicines you take, including any inhalers you
What type of family and social support you have.
During the physical exam,
your doctor will examine your body for other clues that may explain the cause
of your symptoms. A physical exam involves:
Taking your temperature, weight, and
body mass index (BMI), which measures weight for
height and provides a way to estimate the effect of weight on
Examining your ears, eyes, nose, and throat for signs of
Listening to your heart and lungs with a
Checking for signs that blood is backing up in your
neck veins, which may point to a heart problem such as
Pressing or tapping on your
abdomen (abdominal palpation).
Examining your fingers and lips to
see whether the skin has a blue tint (cyanosis).
fingers to see if their ends swell and the nails bulge outward (clubbing).
Evaluating your legs and feet
for swelling (edema).
A physical exam is not painful, but parts of it
(such as abdominal palpation) may feel slightly uncomfortable.
Why It Is Done
A history and physical exam help
your doctor make a diagnosis. They are a routine and important part of any
visit to a doctor.
Your history may reveal risk factors that
suggest you have COPD or an increased risk for developing COPD, such as:
breath sounds or abnormal breath sounds such as crackles or wheezes.
Certain physical exam findings will help your doctor assess
the severity of your condition. These include:
The use of "accessory" muscles, such as the
neck muscles, during quiet breathing.
Breathing through pursed
The inability to complete full sentences without stopping to
take a breath.
Bluish discoloration of the fingertips or nailbeds
Swelling in the legs or abdomen.
Any or all of these findings may suggest severe
A careful history and examination of your heart should
also be done to exclude heart disease that can either be associated with or
cause symptoms similar to those of COPD. This is especially important, because
smoking increases the risk for heart disease as well as for COPD. The heart
exam may reveal a rapid heart rate or show signs of
liver may be increased in size, which sometimes can
occur because of right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale).
result of the physical exam varies. Not every person will have all the possible
symptoms or signs of COPD.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
May 4, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 04, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this