Everyone at risk for COPD should be tested for the disease. To help determine who should get tested, there are several screening questionnaires - most asking similar questions such as:
If you answered yes to two or more of those questions, you should consult your medical provider about getting, as a minimum, a spirometery screening . If COPD is indicated, then the full test called a pulmonary function test should be considered.
What is Spirometry?
Spirometry can detect COPD in the very early stages, long before symptoms become severe. This simple, non-invasive breathing test measures the amount of air a person can blow out of the lungs (volume) and how fast he or she can blow it out (flow). This test can determine if you have COPD, as well as providing a guide to its severity. It also can be used as an aid in determining the effectiveness of treatments.
How Spirometry Works
The test is done with a spirometer, a machine that measures how well your lungs function, records the results, and displays them on a graph. In this non-invasive test, you will be asked to take a deep breath, then blow out as hard and as fast as you can into a mouthpiece which is connected to the spirometer with tubing. The spirometer then measures the total amount exhaled, called the forced vital capacity or FVC, and how much you exhaled in the first second, called the forced expiratory volume in 1 second or FEV1. The test is normally repeated several times to insure accuracy.