November 20, 2019

World COPD Day

Today is World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day (COPD)​ and this year we are taking the opportunity to encourage people to reach out to their health professionals for support and assistance to manage their illness and improve their wellbeing.

Awareness and investigation of new or ongoing respiratory symptoms, such as persistent cough, wheeze, or shortness of breath can lead to early diagnosis and treatments for a range of respiratory diseases. Awareness and understanding of the treatments prescribed is also important, with the respiratory department promoting evidence based therapy, including the correct use of inhaled medications or ‘puffers’.

Maureen Goodwin, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant, explained that one way we can assist our respiratory patients is to ensure they are taking their inhaled medications correctly. Inhalers or ‘puffers’ are common treatments in COPD and asthma, and with many different devices available, the use of puffers can be quite confusing for patients.

“Inhalers can fall into two main categories – preventers and relievers. It is important in asthma and COPD that preventers are taken regularly every day even if you feel well. Relievers are the inhalers which can be used to provide immediate relief when patients experience shortness of breath or other symptoms such as wheeze and cough,” she said.

With the combination of spring allergy season and Melbourne’s unseasonable weather, Northern Health’s respiratory team have seen many patients experiencing increased respiratory symptoms, requiring use of reliever puffers.

“To ensure the inhaled medications reach the smallest airways of the lungs, we recommend the use of a spacer and recommend the ‘1 puff 4 breath technique’. This method is a ‘one size fits all’  technique which suits all ages and ability from paediatrics to elderly, including routine or emergency use. This method can even provide a calming effect for patients who are becoming anxious during an acute attack,” Maureen said.

Please see a short demonstration below on how we promote the use of puffer and spacer at Northern Health.

The following websites offer a range of resources and support services for patients and health professionals: Lung Foundation Australia, Asthma Australia, National Asthma Council.

Featured image (left to right): Hanwen Tan, Registered Nurse; Darrin Stirling, Patient; Maureen Goodwin, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant