November 2017

Print this issue

Health Capsule

Out of Breath? Get Tested for COPD

Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) don’t realize they have it. COPD is a serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. Shortness of breath, a constant cough, and wheezing can all be symptoms.

COPD is very common. It’s a leading cause of death in the United States. There’s a simple breathing test, called spirometry, for COPD. It’s fast and painless. You take a deep breath and blow as hard as you can into a tube connected to a small machine, called a spirometer. The machine measures how much air you breathe out. It also measures how fast you can blow air out.

Based on this test, your health care provider can tell whether you have COPD. The test also shows how severe it is. Health care providers who specialize in lung rehab can work with you to help you breathe better and stay more active.

Learn more about COPD, and watch a video that shows how the airways may become damaged* at

*Update: This video is no longer available.