How to Diagnose COPD
Talk to your doctor
In order to diagnose COPD - which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema - your doctor will want to meet with you to ask you a series of questions and review your medical history. Depending on the results, they may choose to give you one of these three standard COPD tests; spirometry, arterial blood gas or pulse oximetry.
Because COPD symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath can be fairly generic and may indicate a number of different respiratory illnesses, your doctor may refer you for a Spirometry test. Spirometry is the standard and most effective method for testing and diagnosing COPD. It may also be referred to as a pulmonary function test or PFT. These tests are designed to measure how well your lungs function and their capacity for air. This test is also effective for diagnosing respiratory diseases before symptoms may appear.
Arterial Blood Gas
Another method for testing is called an Arterial Blood Gas test or ABG. A small amount of blood is taken from an artery (usually in the wrist) to measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. This test is very accurate and is usually required to determine if you need home oxygen therapy.
A pulse oximeter is a small device that is placed on your finger that estimates the oxygen levels in your blood. This test is simple and pain-free and is usually performed to record your oxygen levels in real-time, on the spot. This type of test may also be used for funding requalification depending on the province you live in.
COPD Treatment and Management
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) management focuses on education and increasing the quality of life for people who are living with respiratory disease. Your VitalAire healthcare team will work with you and your doctor to create a care plan that's right for you and your lifestyle.
Living with COPD
Oxygen therapy might take time to get used to - but you are not alone. Thousands of Canadians use oxygen therapy to breathe more easily, live longer, and make the most of each day. Oxygen therapy can help you feel more focused, energized and give you the energy you need to enjoy the things you love.
Petty, T L. “Home Oxygen--a Revolution in the Care of Advanced COPD.” The Medical Clinics of North America., U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 1990, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2335990.
Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial Group. Continuous or nocturnal oxygen therapy in hypoxemic chronic obstructive lung disease: a clinical trial. Ann Intern Med 1980; 93: 391-398
Report of the Medical Research Council Working Party. Long-term domiciliary oxygen therapy in chronic hypoxic cor pulmonale complicating chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Lancet 1981; 1: 681-686