All you need to know about COPD Diagnosis and Tests
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an extremely common lung condition, and it is a type of non-communicable disease. Depending upon the signs and symptoms of the patient, personal and family history, and exposure to lung irritants, the patient will be asked to undergo COPD diagnosis.
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Cough that produces mucus
- Trouble taking deep breaths
- Chest tightness
- Frequent infections like flu or cold
- Low energy level
- Swollen feet, ankles, or legs
- Loss of weight
Before diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about the symptoms mentioned above, the possible causes, smoking history and will also check your breathing using a stethoscope. Your doctor will carry out various tests to assess you and diagnose COPD.
To learn more about the diagnostic tests for COPD, please keep reading
Diagnostic Tests For COPD
This test is used to measure lung functioning and capacity. It is a painless, simple, common, and effective way of diagnosing COPD. In the spirometry test, you will be asked to blow air into a large tube connected to a small machine called a spirometer. This machine measures how much air you can blow out and how fast you can blow. Spirometry is otherwise also known as pulmonary function test (PFT). This test can help determine the COPD condition before prominent signs and symptoms appear. Spirometry also helps monitor the condition's progression and treatment effectiveness.
This test will help visually examine the chest region, including the lungs, heart, and blood vessels, by producing an X-ray image. Although an X-ray will not help in viewing COPD until it is chronic, it will help in ruling out the possibility of other lung conditions like pneumonia, lung cancer, any other lung condition, or heart failure that might be responsible for causing symptoms similar to COPD.
Chest CT scan (computed tomography)
A chest CT scan provides the doctor with a detailed image of the lungs compared to an x-ray. It can help in scanning the lungs and help in determining the cause of COPD symptoms.
Arterial blood gas test
This test is performed to measure levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Peak expiratory flow (PEF) test
This test helps measure how fast the patient can blow out air with maximum effort.
There are other tests as well that might be carried out by your doctor. These tests include,
- A sputum test: This test is usually carried out to test the phlegm sample for any sign of chest infection.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): Your doctor might use an electrocardiogram to check if the shortness of breath you are experiencing is due to any heart condition or not.
- Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) test: This test is performed to measure the amount of nitric oxide in the breath that might be making breathing difficult due to lung inflammation.
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Test: This test measures the amount of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. This test is performed to determine if the COPD condition is due to the deficiency of this protein.
COPD is a condition that varies from one person to another. Usually, the initial symptoms like a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing are ignored in most instances, as it is confused with cold, flu, or allergies. However, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately if the symptoms persist, as COPD cannot be reversed or cured. Timely diagnosis will ensure timely treatment, which can help ease the symptoms and prevent the worsening of the condition. Early COPD diagnosis and treatment will also ensure a better quality of life for the patient.