How do I find out if I have emphysema?

How do I find out if I have emphysema?

If you show signs of trouble breathing, do not put off going to see the doctor. Emphysema can seriously damage your lungs and can also damage your heart. To learn whether you have emphysema, a doctor will conduct a medical exam and ask questions about your health. He will examine your lungs listening for signs of emphysema. He will want to know if you smoke or have smoked and what type of work you have done. Using a machine called a spirometer, the doctor can test for pulmonary function to see how well your lungs work. As you blow into the machine, it measures how much air was exhaled and how hard you had to work to exhale it. A chest x-ray is often useful and a CAT scan of the chest is sometimes needed. Blood tests including oxygen tests or an alpha-1-antitrypsin level test may be done. An alpha-1-antitrypsin level test is a test for a genetic disease which can result in emphysema.

To learn more:

Alpha-1 Foundation
This Web site covers some of the signs of people at risk of having Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alph-1) and tells them how to get screened for it. For people who have been diagnosed with Alpha-1, there are many tips for staying healthy. Click on the tab marked Alpha-1 at the top of the page.
Frequently Asked Questions
(NIHSeniorHealth )
This site answers frequently asked questions about COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
(Mayo Clinic)
Provides a description of spirometry, a lung function test used to diagnose asthma and other lung diseases.

next » Questions to ask my doctor about emphysema.

Written by: Lillian Trettin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Tuesday February 17, 2015 11:38 AM