COPD; Chronic obstructive airways disease; Chronic obstructive lung disease; Chronic bronchitis; Emphysema; Bronchitis - chronic
- Cough with mucus
- Shortness of breath (
dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
- Frequent respiratory infections
Since the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may be unaware that they are sick.
Signs and tests
The best test for COPD is a simple lung function test called spirometry. This involves blowing out as hard as one can into a small machine that tests lung capacity. The test can be interpreted immediately and does not involve exercising, drawing blood, or exposure to radiation.
Using a stethoscope to listen to the lungs can also be helpful, although sometimes the lungs sound normal even when COPD is present.
Pictures of the lungs (such as X-rays and CT scans) can be helpful but sometimes look normal even when a person has COPD.
Sometimes it is necessary to do a blood test (call a “blood gas”) to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.