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When a loved one has COPD or another chronic lung disease, knowing how to balance taking care of them and yourself can be difficult. This page provides helpful resources for caregivers including guides on helping your loved one quit smoking and how to take time out of your day for yourself.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), you may have a lot of questions. This page is a great resource for learning about all aspects of the disease including talking to your doctor, flare-up signs and symptoms, and disease management.

If you have a chronic lung disease, you know that staying healthy plays an important part in managing your symptoms and overall well-being. The right exercise methods, diet, and other techniques can help you stay healthy with chronic lung disease and get you back to doing the things you love.

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Recent Articles

Research Suggests COPD Misdiagnosed in 40 Percent of Patients

By Do More With Oxygen

Tue, Jun 25, 2013

doctor reading test resultsAccording to DRIVE4COPD, a public health initiative lead by the COPD Foundation, as many as 12 million Americans may have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but remain undiagnosed.

What’s arguably more surprising, though, is how often COPD is reportedly misdiagnosed. Some estimates, including one from Medical News Today, suggest more than 40 percent of patients diagnosed and being treated for COPD do not actually have the chronic disease.

In the recent study, researchers Christian Ghattas, MD., MSc, and Magdi H. Awad, Pharm.D, tested 80 patients who had been diagnosed with COPD or prescribed an anticholinergic inhaler by their primary health care providers. They discovered roughly 42 percent of these patients had no airway obstruction and, therefore, no COPD. Additionally, 23 percent of patients studied had reversible obstruction more characteristic of asthma than COPD.

These figures are similar to those from a Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) study from 2011. In that study, researchers examined 445 patients who were taking respiratory medication and had been diagnosed with COPD by their primary physicians. They found only 57.8 percent of those patients actually had COPD.

Why is COPD Misdiagnosed?

According to Global Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), spirometry, a test that measures the amount of air a person can breathe out and the amount of time it takes to do so, is as important for the diagnosis of COPD as blood pressure measurements are for the diagnosis of hypertension. MJA calls spirometry essential for accurate diagnosis of COPD, and Dr. Awad says, “symptoms alone are insufficient to make a COPD diagnosis.” In both studies, the majority of patients were not previously evaluated with spirometry.

During a spirometry test, a patient is asked to keep his or her nostrils closed with a clip and breathe out quickly through their mouth, usually three times or more. Researchers evaluated those with COPD in the studies with spirometry to determine diagnosis accuracy. (See the blog “Life With COPD: Spirometry Test Basics” for more information about spirometry.)

What Does this Mean for You?

Remember, this report is intended for informational use only. It should not be used in place of advice or direction given by a certified physician. Do not stop your prescribed treatment before speaking with your physician. If you have been diagnosed with COPD and did not receive a spirometry test, talk with your physician about your options for scheduling a test to confirm your diagnosis. It’s not uncommon for those with COPD to undergo periodic spirometry to check how well their medications are working and whether their symptoms are under control.

Before speaking with your doctor, download “Living with COPD: 9 Questions to Ask Your Physician” to better prepare for your next appointment.

Living with COPD? 9 Questions to Ask Your Physician

Topics: respiratory therapists, copd misdiagnosed

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