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Diagnosing COPD

What to Expect

During diagnosis our expert pulmonology team will evaluate your medical history, family history, test results and symptoms.

In order to identify COPD your doctor may:

  1. Listen for abnormal chest sounds (with a stethoscope)
  2. Administer a non-invasive lung function test with a spirometer
    Spirometry is the gold standard for diagnosing COPD.
  3. Perform a chest X-ray or CT scan
  4. Measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood with an arterial blood gas test

The severity of COPD is measured by:

  • The amount of air you can forcibly breathe out within one second
  • Exercise capacity, or exercise-induced hypoxemia (unusually low amount of oxygen in the blood)
  • Number of exacerbations
  • Dyspnea scale (test that measure shortness of breath)

Most patients are referred to a pulmonologist for COPD diagnosis by their primary care physician.

Diseases That Are Like COPD

There are several diseases that are often mistaken for COPD. It’s important to have your symptoms evaluated by one of our trained pulmonologists so you can receive treatment specific to your condition.

Diseases with symptoms similar to COPD include:

  • Asthma
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Bronchiectasis (destruction and widening of large airways)
COPD Treatment