How’s your breathing compared to six or 12 months ago? Can you exercise and
function the way you have in the past? Have you cut back on or avoided any activities
because of breathlessness? Answers to those questions could indicate that you need
to be tested for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes symptoms
such as shortness of breath, chronic coughing or wheezing, and congestion or clogging
of your airways with mucus. Although smokers and former smokers are at highest risk,
as many as 15 percent of COPD cases occur in people who have never smoked.
The American College of Physicians recommends spirometry (lung testing in which
you blow into a tube) for people with symptoms. The test takes only a few minutes
and can be ordered by your doctor. Those scoring below a certain level are usually
given medicines to open their airway or treat inflammation. Oxygen is recommended
for those with low blood oxygen while resting. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs
are essential for those with symptoms and poor spirometry readings.
The Hawaii COPD Coalition is conducting Project SUCCESS (Spirometry-Urged Cessation
through Counseling, Education and Sustained Support), which will offer free monthly
lung testing, education and referrals as well as COPD and smoking cessation support
groups. Testing is recommended especially for current and former smokers and those
with respiratory symptoms. Testing locations, times and dates are posted on the
Since smoking cessation is the single best treatment for COPD, counseling, information
and referrals about quitting are an important part of the project. Another excellent
resource is HMSA’s Ready, Set, Quit! program – call (808) 952-4400
on O‘ahu or 1 (888) 225-4122 on the Neighbor Islands to learn more.
For more information on COPD, visit their website,
email them at email@example.com,
or contact project director Valerie Chang at (808) 699-9839 on O‘ahu.