COPD diagnosis, management and prevention

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

Diagnosis of COPD

  • A clinical diagnosis of COPD should be considered in any patient who has dyspnea, chronic cough or sputum production, and a history of exposure to risk factors for the disease
  • Spirometry is required to make a clinical diagnosis of COPD; the presence of a postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC<0.70 confirms the presence of persistent airflow limitation and thus of COPD. All health care workers who care for COPD patients should have access to spirometry

Differential diagnosis

  • A major differential diagnosis is asthma. Other potential diagnoses are usually easier to distinguish from COPD, and include: 
    • congestive heart failure
    • bronchiectasis
    • tuberculosis
    • obliterative bronchiolitis
    • diffuse panbronchiolitis

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