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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported January 2, 2013

COPD Flute: Musical Medicine

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It’s the third most common cause of death in the US. As COPD progresses, the damage to lungs can be irreversible, but now doctors have a new instrument to help people suffering from the chronic disease.

Bernard and Barbara Swanekamp have a lifetime worth of memories.  They’ve been married fifty-six years.

“He’s my best friend,” Barbara Swanekamp, Bernard’s wife, told Ivanhoe.

But after a lifetime of smoking, Bernard has the chronic lung disease, COPD.

“It restricts my lungs.  I don’t like doing this, but if this is the way I have to live, then this is the way I have to live,” Bernard Swanekamp told Ivanhoe.

But life has been easier the past year thanks to the lung flute.

“Usually I wind up in the hospital one or two times a year in the wintertime. Last winter, there was nothing,” Bernard said.

Some people with COPD have excess mucus in their lungs. When patients blow into the flute, sound waves are sent down the airways, mobilizing that mucus.  Studies show using it twice a day, improves lung congestion and other COPD symptoms.

“It helps with clearance of the mucus and essentially, then they feel better the rest of the day,” Sanjay Sethi, MD, Professor of Medicine & Chief of Pulmonary at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and staff physician with the VA Western New York Healthcare System, told Ivanhoe.

It may also help protect against potentially fatal respiratory illnesses like pneumonia.

“There were patients who would come to me all the time and they say, ‘Listen, once I clear the mucus, I feel better,’” Dr. Sethi said.

Bernard relies on the flute.

“It saves me a lot of trips to the hospital, I’ll tell you that.  This thing has made a world of difference in my life.  It really has,” Bernard explained.

“When he feels better, I feel better,” Barbara said.

The lung flute is FDA approved.  Insurance typically covers most of the cost, but if you’d rather pay out of pocket the lung flute and a six month supply of reeds only runs about 50 dollars.  A doctor’s prescription is needed to get one.  MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on Musical Medicine: A Flute for COPD

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Sanjay Sethi

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at


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