Launceston residents are encouraged to take a big breath of fresh air on Wednesday.
November 15 marks World COPD Day. The day focuses on people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – lung diseases.
Launceston General Hospital’s pulmonary cardio rehabilitation senior physiotherapist Jo Crawley-Smith said the day was a chance for the general public to find out whether they were at risk of getting the disease.
“We’re going to set up a stall outside the [hospital] cafeteria and do free screening,” she said. “It’s a really quick and easy test. Basically, you blow out as hard as you can for six seconds and it will indicate whether there is a possibility of you having a lung condition.”
COPD affects about one in seven Australians aged above 40. The disease includes people with emphysema, chronic asthma and chronic bronchitis.
The message Ms Crawley-Smith wanted to get across was that lung diseases weren’t a “smoker’s disease”.
“People think it’s their fault they got the condition, but that isn’t always the case. There are a lot of ways to deal with it.”
Ms Crawley-Smith runs an eight-week lung rehabilitation program called Lung Busters at the hospital.
“Our patients come in once a week for eight weeks and we prescribe everyone an exercise program for their level,” she said. “The idea behind it is the stronger people are, the less likely they are to get sick and worsen the lung condition.
“If you’re fitter, you’re going to be less breathless and that is one of the main problems with COPD, people get puffed.”
Lung busters also hold weekly talks with different health professionals for patients to learn about how COPD affects their body.
Ms Crawley-Smith said COPD could mostly be prevented, with smoking one of the main causes.
“One of the things I’ve noticed is that the anti-smoking advertisements have really gotten through and have reduced a lot of smoking.”
She also said it was important to not breathe in harmful dust and chemicals.
Preventing COPD isn’t just about taking the right medications, but also exercising and keeping your immune system healthy, too.
“Little things like that make a big difference to a lung disease,” she said.
People can be referred to the Lung Busters program by contacting 6777 6216.