How is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosed?
Diagnosis of COPD begins with a medical history and physical examination. Lung function tests can identify COPD in Stage 0, even before the individual has symptoms. Lung function tests measure how much air a person can take in with a deep breath. They also measure how fast the person can push the air back out of the lungs. Using a spirometer, an instrument
that measures the air taken into and exhaled from the lungs, the doctor will determine two important values:(1) vital capacity (VC), the largest amount of air expelled after the deepest inhalation, and (2) forced expiratory volume (FEV1), the maximum amount of air expired in one second. The pulmonary function test can be performed in the doctor's office, but is expensive.
The healthcare provider may also order a chest X-ray and blood tests. Other diagnostic tests for COPD include an arterial blood gas, which measures the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood; blood and sputum tests to look for the cause of any infections; and an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of the heart to determine whether the lung disease has caused any heart problems. A chest x-ray may be ordered to diagnose emphysema or to look for signs of pneumonia. Because early-onset emphysema can be caused by low levels of the alpha-1-antitrypsin protein, the doctor may also order a blood test to check for this condition, especially if the patient has emphysema at a young age and no other risk factors.
Blood may be drawn from an artery (more painful than drawing blood from a vein) to determine the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide present. Low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels are often indicative of chronic bronchitis, but not always of emphysema. If infection is present, blood and sputum tests may be done to determine the cause of infection. Many patients with lung disease also develop heart problems. The ECG identifies signs of heart disease.
More information on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is persistent obstruction of the airways occurring with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or both disorders.
What causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is caused by exposure to noxious gases or particles, especially cigarette smoke.
What're the risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? - The leading risk factor for COPD is smoking, which can lead to the two most common forms of this disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
What're the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? - People who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) usually have some symptoms of both chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
How is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosed? - Diagnosis of COPD begins with a medical history and physical examination. Other diagnostic tests for COPD include an arterial blood gas.
What's the treatment for hronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - The goals of COPD treatment are to prevent further deterioration in lung function, to alleviate symptoms, and to improve performance of daily activities.
How to prevent hronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? - Lifestyle modifications that can help prevent COPD, or improve function in COPD patients, include: quitting smoking, avoiding respiratory irritants.