Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


To diagnose COPD, your health care provider will ask you questions about your health history. Some of the questions may include:

  • Do you currently smoke? Or did you smoke in the past?
  • How often are you short of breath?
  • What makes you shortness of breath worse?
  • Do you cough? How long have you been coughing?
  • Do you cough up sputum (phlegm, mucus)?
  • Does anyone or did anyone in your family have lung disease?

Tests to Diagnose COPD


Spirometry is the most reliable way to diagnose COPD. It is a simple breathing test that measures the speed and the amount of air you are able to blow out of your lungs. If you are short of breath doing simple tasks, ask your health care provider about sending you for a spirometry test.  

Chest X-ray

The chest x-ray will help the doctor see if there is damage to your lungs. 


This test measures the amount of oxygen saturation in your blood, painlessly with a finger probe.


This content was review on October 4th, by the Canadian Thoracic Society's COPD Clinical Assembly.

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Page Last Updated: 07/03/2019