The Knowledge Center

Diagnosing COPD

What are the signs of COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause breathing symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and more. Often, COPD is confused for a sign of aging or asthma.

But COPD is something different—a chronic condition that can get worse over time. Quitting smoking is the only thing that can slow progression of COPD. Getting the right diagnosis means getting the right treatment.

It starts with a test of your breathing—called spirometry.

When you visit your doctor to discuss your breathing symptoms, you may be asked to take a lung function test called spirometry. Very simply, spirometry is a test that measures how much air you can breathe out.

Your results from this test will be compared to what's normal for a person of your age, size (height and weight), and sex. This way, your doctor can tell if you have COPD.

If your doctor doesn't perform this test, you may want to ask if you should have one. You can also ask if you should see a lung specialist (known as a pulmonologist).

Want to know more about:

Getting diagnosed? >

What to do after COPD diagnosis? >

How to manage COPD? >