The doctor suspects you have COPD, you have a history of smoking and he hears the following while listening to your lungs with a stethoscope.
Diminished or distant breath sounds are signs of emphysema. Tapping the chest will usually produce a hollow, drum-like sound.
In chronic bronchitis, the physician is likely to hear wheezing or gurgling sounds.
The best test for determining the presence of COPD are the pulmonary function tests, most often spirometry. Spirometry measures the volume and force of air as it is exhaled from the lungs. The patient is asked to breathe in and to exhale forcefully into an instrument several times. The force of the air is then monitored and measured.
The forced vital capacity (FVC)
FVC is the maximum volume of air that can be exhaled with force and is an indicator of the lung size, elasticity, and how well the air passages open and close.
The forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)
FEV1 is the maximum volume of air expired in one second. Airflow is considered to be
limited if the outflow of forced exhalation is persistently low over the course of one second.
Steady but faster than normal decline in FEV1 over time characterizes COPD.
Calculating a ratio of FEV1 to FVC is the best method for determining the presence and severity of COPD. The severity of airway obstruction may be graded by the percentage of the patient's predicted FEV1:
Mild COPD is an FEV1/FVC ratio of 70% or higher,
with a predicted FEV1 of less than 80%.
Moderate is an FEV1/FVC ratio of 60% to 69%, with
a predicted FEV1 of less than 80%.
Moderately severe is an FEV1/FVC ratio of 50% to 59%
Severe is an FEV1/FVC ratio of 34% to 49%
Very severe is an FEV1/FVC ratio of less than 34%.
This is not the only chart they use some vary a bit but this gives a general idea on what your numbers may mean. But please ask your doctor because there are a lot more numbers involved in your final diagnosis.
Another test they may ask for is an ABG or Arterial Blood Gas.
This test not only tells them how much O2 you have in your blood, it will also tell them if you are retaining too much CO2, which is just as bad if not worse then not having enough O2. This procedure typically draws blood from an artery in the wrist, which can be painful.but not fatal!
One more common test that you will be seeing is the Pulse Ox Test.
It is where they put a special clip that is an Oximeter on your finger or earlobe if needed and it will tell them what your Blood Saturation levels are at that minute as well as your pulse. A lot of us have our own oximeters at home to help us learn where we need to slow down when exercising and some of us can tell if we are developing infection before it hits.
Now a word of advice.
The oximeter does not always work well if you are wearing nail polish, fake nails or if you have cold hands. That is when they may use it on an earlobe instead.
There are other tests that your doctor may do depending on the circumstances but they are too many to go into here.
Here is a website that explains most of the tests in everyday language <thank goodness> Click Here