It can often be enough for you to describe your symptoms to a doctor to make them suspect that you have COPD. You will then have to do a spirometry. Spirometry together with the symptom picture forms the basis for diagnosis.
It is usually not noticeable in the physical examination if you have a mild form of COPD.
COPD is a common disease that causes very few symptoms in the beginning. Ask if you can have a COPD screening test at your health center if you are or have been a smoker. Based on the results of that examination, you can see if your lungs are functioning properly or if you are at risk of COPD and need to do more examinations.
COPD is rarely seen on chest X-rays and this is not how you are diagnosed.
You may have a test called spirometry
A spirometer is a device that measures the volume of your lungs and how your lungs work.
The examination is performed at your health center. You will be able to exhale the air from an inhaled breath as fast as you can and then blow until you have emptied all the air in your lungs. You will then have to inhale a medicine that dilates the trachea and repeat the examination one more time.
Blood tests rule out another disease
At the beginning of the investigation, you may submit blood samples. This is done primarily to exclude other diseases. There is no specific blood test that shows if you have COPD or not. In some cases, alpha-1-antitrypsin is measured in the blood.
Your lungs are x-rayed
You will also be examined with a chest X-ray if the doctor suspects that you have COPD. This is mainly to rule out other lung diseases. Lung X-rays may show signs of COPD, but the diagnosis can never be determined by X-rays alone. Examination with ECG
It is common for you to be examined with an ECG. The purpose is to detect heart disease, which can sometimes cause symptoms similar to those of COPD. In addition, the ECG examination can show if the COPD disease has affected the heart.
You can fill in an estimate form to get an idea of what symptoms you have.
Six minute walking test
To see how the lung disease affects your ability in daily life, a gait test is performed. In that test, you should walk in a corridor, as long as possible for six minutes.
Different stages of COPD
COPD is divided into the following stages based on the examination results after the spirometry examination. The different stages are divided according to lung volume:
- Stage 1, mild COPD.
- Stage 2, moderate COPD.
- Stage 3, severe COPD.
- Stage 4, very severe COPD.
COPD can cause different problems in different people. Therefore, the division above is supplemented with an additional scale. It describes how much trouble you have and any periods of deterioration. That scale consists of four stages: A, B, C and D. Where A shows that you have the least trouble and D the most trouble.