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Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The doctor will ask about a person's symptoms, health history, and risk factors. A physical exam will also be done. This is enough to suspect the disease.

A spirometry test will be done to check how well the lungs are working. The person will be asked to breathe in deeply and then breathe out with force into a tube called a spirometer. It will measure how much air the lungs can hold and how well the person moves air in and out of the lungs. This will show whether the lungs are not working as well as they should. This is enough to make the diagnosis.


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). American Lung Association website. Available at: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/copd. Accessed April 21, 2022.
  • What is COPD? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/copd. Accessed April 21, 2022.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.