Should you be tested for COPD?

Heather Cyr administers a spirometry test.

Coughing? Short of breath? A self-assessment may help determine if you should be tested for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and fatigue.    

COPD is a major cause of hospitalization on Prince Edward Island, second only to childbirth as the reason for admissions. In fact, an estimated 8,000 Islanders have COPD in one of its two forms – chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Health PEI’s COPD program urges Islanders to evaluate whether they should be tested for COPD. Heather Cyr, COPD coordinator, said early detection and treatment can make a big difference for people with COPD.

“It’s a progressive disease but there are things a person can do to minimize the impact COPD has on their everyday life. Through the COPD clinics, we teach the skills required to help manage COPD, allowing people to do more of the activities they enjoy. Medications are reviewed, appropriate exercises and breathing techniques are taught. These interventions can really improve their quality of life, said Cyr, a respiratory therapist. “COPD educators can also assist in efforts to quit smoking which is key to slowing down the progression of COPD”.

“The important first step is to have people with COPD properly diagnosed so that they can begin self management of their disease.”

Anyone who is over 40 years of age and is a current or ex-smoker should do the Canadian Lung Health Test to see if they may need further testing.

Take this quick test:

  •  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 (exercise, go up stairs?)
  •  Do you get many colds and do your colds usually last longer than your friends’ colds?
A “yes” to one of more of the questions means you are at risk of having COPD and should talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner about further screening. 
“If at risk, you can be referred for a spirometry test that will determine if you have COPD,” Cyr said. “The screening isn’t invasive or painful, and it may lead to a diagnosis that gives people the opportunity to make changes that could improve their lives for years to come.”
Prince Edward Island’s COPD program provides education, support and advice for Islanders with COPD.
Health PEI offers regular COPD risk assessment at locations in Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Hunter River, North Rustico, Kensington, Summerside, Wellington, Tyne Valley, O’Leary and Alberton.



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