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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Symptoms, Causes, Lung Test and Diagnosis
Important Information You Should Know

Medical illustration of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the lungs.

What is COPD?

COPD means Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is the name for two major breathing diseases that cause airways to become "obstructed" or blocked: Obstructive chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Obstructive Chronic Bronchitis: When airways are constantly attacked by pollutants, such as those found in cigarette smoke, they become inflamed and filled with thick, sticky mucous. You cough to clear your airways. Later, the bronchi may become obstructed or with limited airflow: lungs do not fully empty and air is trapped.

Emphysema: Your bronchial tubes branch into smaller and smaller tubes, which end in millions of tiny air sacs called alveoli. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place in the alveoli. When your alveoli are damaged or destroyed, it becomes difficult for the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and less oxygen gets into your body. Your lungs do not fully empty and air is trapped.

These diseases often occur together but they can also occur separately.

Think you have COPD?

If you are over 40 and smoke or used to smoke, you may have COPD. Some non-smokers can also get COPD. We recommend you take the 30-second Lung Health Test. Take this quick test to screen for symptoms of COPD:

• Do you cough regularly?

• Do you cough up phlegm regularly?

• Do even simple chores make you short of breath?

• Do you wheeze when you exert yourself (exercise, go upstairs)?

• Do you get many colds, and do your colds usually last longer than your friends' colds?

If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, you may have symptoms of COPD. See your doctor to find out what is causing your symptoms. It could be COPD, it could be another breathing disease, or it could be something else. Only your doctor can say.

Note: This test is for information purposes only. It should not replace a complete medical examination by a doctor. If you think you may have COPD or are worried about your health, please see your doctor.

Diagnosis

Only your doctor can diagnose if you have COPD after examining you and giving you a simple breathing test called spirometry.

Spirometry is a common and effective diagnostic test that can easily be done in your doctor's office or at a nearby hospital or clinic. You will be asked to blow, as long and hard as you can, into a small tube attached to a machine. The machine measures how long it takes to blow out all the air from your lungs. The more blocked your airways, the longer it takes to blow the air out. Spirometry is the most reliable way to test your lungs for COPD. Your doctor may call spirometry by another name including: pulmonary function test (PFT) or lung function test.

Other additional tests may include Chest X-rays (to rule out other possible diagnoses), and even blood tests (to measure the oxygen levels in your blood).


© Copyright 1995-2021 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 ☎ or toll-free (800) 223-2273 ☎ extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or http://www.clevelandclinic florida.org.

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The Healthy Community Initiative is a collaborative effort between Cleveland Clinic and community partners to promote optimal health and wellness. Based on the community health needs assessment and utilizing combined resources within our local communities, Healthy Community Initiative programs will be customized around three core areas: education, nutrition and physical activity.

Live Long Lyndhurst Health and Wellness Initiative (HWI):
#LiveLongLyndhurst

Live Long Lyndhurst is a Health and Wellness Initiative between the City of Lyndhurst, Cleveland Clinic Community Outreach, Legacy Village, Cleveland Metroparks at Acacia, The Fedeli Group, the YMCA, South Euclid - Lyndhurst Schools, Second Sole and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield.

Related:

➤ Hillcrest Family YMCA

➤ Legacy Village

➤ Live Long Lyndhurst

➤ South Euclid - Lyndhurst Schools




In Partnership With:
 

    

    

    


 

    

    

    

    
Anthem. Visit this partner website.