COPD: You need to blow because you need to know
Photo caption: Canada's favourite hockey dad Walter Gretzky takes a spirometry test with the assistance of Carole Madeley, director of respiratory programs with the Ontario Lung Association.
(NC) More than 850,000 Ontarians have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a potentially serious respiratory condition that blocks the airways and causes lung damage. But medical experts say that the real number is much higher, perhaps double the official figure.
November is Lung Month in Ontario and November 20 is World COPD Day – a perfect opportunity to ask: Could I have undetected COPD and how can I find out for sure?
If you are over 40 and a current or former smoker, make a start by answering these five questions:
• Do you cough regularly?
• Do you cough up phlegm regularly?
• Do even simple chores make you short of breath?
• Do you wheeze when you exert yourself or at night?
• Do you get frequent colds that last longer than other people's?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, ask your doctor about a breathing test called spirometry. This simple test involves blowing into a machine which measures how much air you can move out of your lungs and how quickly you can do it. It is painless and takes just a few minutes but it can make a huge difference to your long-term health and well-being.
The earlier the test is performed, the earlier lung disease can be detected and treated. “Too many people suffer needlessly because they have lung disease and don't know it,” says Dr. Anthony D'Urzo, a family physician and director of the Primary Care Lung Clinic in Toronto. “Proper diagnosis through spirometry is a major step in reducing the impact of respiratory diseases.”
The Ontario Lung Association Lung Health Information Line has Certified Respiratory Educators standing by to answer your questions about COPD, spirometry or any other lung health issue. Phone 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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