Diagnosis

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

While there is currently no cure for COPD, there is evidence to show that early diagnosis, combined with disease management programs at the early stages of the disease, can improve quality of life, slow disease progression, reduce mortality and keep people out of hospital. Diagnostic tests for COPD can include lung function tests.

Lung function tests

Spirometry is the most common breathing test used to confirm a diagnosis of COPD. The test involves blowing as long and hard as you can into a tube connected to a (spirometry) machine. The machine assesses how well your lungs work by measuring how much air you can inhale, how much you can exhale and how quickly you can exhale. The results will let your doctor know if you have COPD or another lung condition such as asthma.

Other tests may include:

  • Chest X-ray: takes pictures of the tissues in the lungs and surrounding organs.
  • CT Chest: takes more detailed pictures than an X-ray to look at the lungs and surrounding organs.
  • Arterial blood gas analysis: a blood test that measures how well your lungs bring oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide.
  • Laboratory tests: these are not used to diagnose COPD, but may be used to rule out other conditions or to work out the cause of your symptoms.