In order to make various conditions more easily detected to patients and their physicians, different medical organizations have devised short questionnaires of 4 or 5 or 6 or 10 questions that’s easy for the patient to complete, and depending on how they score on that, get a relative likelihood of whether a given patient has a given medical conditions. These are true for heart disease and gastro-esophageal reflux and sleep disorders, and depression, and many many other conditions.
There is an organization called The COPD Alliance which publishes a so-called “COPD population screener” which consists of 5 questions and depending on the total score of the person completing it, gives the relative likelihood of having chronic obstructive lung disease. These questions are relatively simple.
The first question is whether during the past 4 weeks, how much time does the patient feel short of breath? On a scale of 0, 1, and 2, a little of the time, some of the time, most of the time, all of the time. Do you ever cough up stuff such as mucus or phlegm? Please select the answer that describes how in past 12 months I do less than I used to because of my breathing. Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your entire life? And how old are you?
I think its important to note that people identify themselves as weekend smokers or social smokers, or I only smoke when I go drinking, or I only smoke when I go to a party, I only smoke on the weekend, I only smoke a couple of cigarettes, I only smoke 2 cigarettes a day, as being not significant. Oh, I only smoked when I was in college, I stopped when I was 30, and now I’m 60. That these influences must be considered, certainly if you smoked 2 packs a day for 30 years you’re in a worse situation than if you smoked a half a pack a day for 4 years and if you smoked 2 cigarettes a day you’re probably less at risk than somebody who smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and if you stopped 5 years ago, you’re probably less well off than somebody who’s still smoking, but the importance of cigarette smoking, and the lingering effects of cigarette smoking, and the cumulative effects of cigarette smoking on your lung health and on your bronchial tube health, and your likelihood of having COPD is very real and very important.