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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - Exams and Tests

To diagnose COPD, your doctor will probably do the following tests:

  • Medical history and physical exam. These will give your doctor important information about your health.
  • Lung function testsLung function tests, including an FEV1 test. These tests measure the amount of air in your lungs and the speed at which air moves in and out. Spirometry is the most important of these tests.
  • Chest X-rayChest X-ray. This helps rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as lung cancer.

Tests done as needed

Tests rarely done

Regular checkups

Because COPD is a disease that keeps getting worse, it is important to schedule regular checkups with your doctor. Checkups may include:

Tell your doctor about any changes in your symptoms and whether you have had any flare-ups. Your doctor may change your medicines based on your symptoms.

Early detection

The sooner COPD is diagnosed, the sooner you can take steps to slow down the disease and keep your quality of life for as long as possible. Screening tests help your doctor diagnose COPD early, before you have any symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about COPD screening if you:

  • Are a smoker or an ex-smoker.
  • Have had serious asthma symptoms for a long time, and they have not improved with treatment.
  • Have a family history of emphysema.
  • Have a job where you are exposed to a lot of chemicals or dust.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) doesn't recommend COPD screening for adults who are not at high risk for COPD.5 And some experts recommend that screening be done only for people who have symptoms of a lung problem.6

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 24, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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