The doctor or nurse will assess you to decide if you have COPD and to identify any risk factors you have for developing the condition. They will ask you questions about your past medical history, your home circumstances and your general health and lifestyle. These questions may include:-
- Your symptoms and how they are affecting your life.
- You will be asked about your history of chest infections. If you have had more than two chest infections in a year this could be a sign that you may have developed COPD.
- If you smoke, how long you have smoked and how many cigarettes you smoke per day. This is called your pack years. One pack-year of smoking would mean that someone had smoked one pack of cigarettes (20 cigarettes) daily for one year. Over 20 pack years puts you at higher risk of developing COPD. This is why COPD often starts to show symptoms from the age of 35 to 40 years if you start smoking as a teenager.
- They will ask about your work history. If you have worked in heavy industry, building construction, farming or coal mining you may be at increased risk of developing COPD.
- Your family history. If a close family member has COPD from a young age you may more likely to develop COPD. This would also involve having a blood test.
- You will be asked about your current medication. You should take your prescription and inhalers with you to your appointment.