Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Signs and Symptoms

COPD diagnosis often surprises people. It might start with being short of breath while walking up or down the stairs or a cough that does not go away. Some people think that feeling short of breath is a normal sign of aging, but that is not the case.

People with COPD usually have some or all of these symptoms:

  • feeling short of breath, especially during physical activity
  • feeling tired
  • a cough that lasts longer than three months
  • coughing up mucus
  • wheezing
  • getting several infections such as the cold, flu or pneumonia and taking longer to recover

See your doctor if you have these signs and symptoms.

Canadian Lung Health Test

Smokers and former smokers are at risk of developing COPD. COPD is short for "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease" and it’s the new name for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some non-smokers can also get COPD.

If you are over 40 and smoke or used to smoke, you may already have COPD. Take this quick test to screen for symptoms of COPD:


If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, you may have symptoms of COPD. See your doctor to find out what is causing your symptoms. It could be COPD, it could be another breathing disease, or it could be something else. Only your doctor can say.

Your doctor can diagnose you after examining you and giving you a simple breathing test called spirometry.

Why should I see the doctor now? Can't it wait?

If you have COPD or another breathing disease, it's important to catch it early and treat it as soon as possible. If you get early treatment for COPD you can slow down the damage to your lungs. This means you'll have fewer symptoms and you'll be more able to do your regular activities and hobbies. You will be more able to keep golfing, playing with your grandkids, gardening, or doing other activities you enjoy.

When COPD is diagnosed late, it can still be treated. But patients who get late treatment for COPD have more severe symptoms, and the treatments do not work as well.

If you have any questions about COPD, you are welcome to call our free BreathWorks COPD helpline at 1-866-717-COPD (2673).

This COPD test from the Canadian Lung Association website is for information purposes only. It should not replace a complete medical examination by a doctor. If you think you may have COPD or are worried about your health, please see your doctor.

The answers you give are used only to calculate your score. 


This page was updated November 2019.

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Page Last Updated: 21/11/2019