People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often don’t realize they have the disease until their symptoms become quite pronounced, and by this time the disease is usually advanced. Early diagnosis gives patients better treatment options and a better quality of life, but how do you know if you’re more at risk of developing COPD?
A simple test called a spirometer is used to diagnose COPD. The doctor will ask you to blow into a mouthpiece and the spirometer measures the air you blow out—how much you blow out in the first second, and then how much air you blow out over six seconds. The doctors will then be able to determine if you have COPD from the results and conduct other tests to find out if you have emphysema or chronic bronchitis and the severity of the disease.
But who should take a spirometer test? According to the COPD Foundation, there are certain risk factors for the disease which include smoking, being exposed long-term to lung irritants and pollutants, and a family history of the disease. In addition, if you’re suffering from any of the symptoms commonly associated with COPD then you also get tested. These include shortness of breath which gets progressively worse, wheezing, being unable to keep up with people the same age as you, and a persistent cough.
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