Experts in bid to improve lung health across Southampton

Experts based at Southampton’s teaching hospitals will offer members of the public breathing tests while they shop tomorrow (Wednesday) in a bid to improve lung health across the city.

Staff at the respiratory biomedical research unit and the respiratory centre at Southampton General Hospital will use World COPD Day to raise awareness and highlight the importance of regular testing.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including bronchitis and emphysema and causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed, making it hard to breathe.

And, despite being one of the most common respiratory conditions in the UK in people over 35, around two million people remain undiagnosed and at risk of contracting a more severe form of the illness as they get older.

Although there is no cure, lifestyle changes can help patients manage their symptoms and prevent deterioration – and experts hope the day will encourage more people to get their lungs tested for COPD, along with other breathing conditions including asthma and lung cancer.

Participants will undertake a five-minute free spirometry test to measure their lung capacity and, if the results raise concern, they will be given a letter to take to their GP for further investigation.

“Spirometry tests are like an MOT for the lungs and, with so many people in the country unaware of the onset of certain conditions, this is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness in a practical and informative way,” said Mal North, COPD nurse specialist.

“While most people are likely to get the all clear, the test can be invaluable in raising early warning signs for potentially fatal problems and giving people the chance to receive treatment or change their lifestyles to improve their lives.”

Having a spirometry test to screen for lung disease is recommended for those over 40 or current or former smokers.

The event will take place at Sainsbury’s in Shirley from 10am to 3pm. 

In addition, the Asthma, Allergy and Inflammation Research (AAIR) charity, will be holding an open evening on asthma, allergy and COPD in the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Southampton General Hospital from 7pm to 9pm.

Visitors will have a rare opportunity to meet and talk to several top experts in the field of allergies – including skin, food, pet, dust, hayfever and asthma – and COPD. For more information, visit www.aaircharity.org

Posted on Tuesday 15 November 2011