CINCINNATI, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About 12.5 million Americans have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. With COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways. The tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged, and unable to stretch and shrink. Now, a team of physician-scientists have developed a non-invasive device that can help patients with their breathing.
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine pulmonologist, Ralph Panos, MD explains, “The main cause of breathlessness in COPD is something called air trapping, or dynamic hyperinflation. It’s an inability to exhale all of the air that one takes in.”
Treatments include a rescue inhaler and steroids. Patients are also taught to practice a special method of breathing.
Dr. Panos says, “They learned something called pursed lip breathing, which is breathing out through pursed lips to create that back pressure.”
Dr. Panos and his colleagues developed a hands-free device that helps patients simulate pursed lip breathing. The device is called the positive expiratory pressure, or PEP Buddy.
“It’s just simply placed in the mouth, one breathes in through the nose, and then out through the device. That resistance to airflow creates the back pressure, which relieves the air trapping and dynamic hyperinflation,” Dr. Panos demonstrates.
The researchers say there are many benefits of slow breathing and exhalation. Now, a tiny tool can help.
Dr. Panos and his colleagues developed the PEP Buddy with help from a University of Cincinnati department that provides a launchpad for entrepreneurs. The researchers are in the process of obtaining what’s called class one approval from the FDA, which is for medical devices that are considered low risk for consumer use. Since the device is considered low risk, it can be available for purchase before it gets FDA-approval. The PEP Buddy is currently being sold for $25 and is not covered by insurance.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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Dr. Ralph Panos
TOPIC: PEP BUDDY: BETTER BREATHING WITH COPD
REPORT: MB #5222
BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive respiratory disease that makes it difficult for individuals to breathe. It can also be called chronic bronchitis or emphysema. COPD is characterized by long-term damage to the airways, which results in the limitation of airflow to and from the lungs. The primary cause of COPD is exposure to harmful substances such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and occupational dust and chemicals. Individuals with a history of smoking are at a higher risk of developing COPD than non-smokers. Other risk factors include age, genetic factors, and a history of lung infections. About 12.5 million Americans are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
DIAGNOSING: The symptoms of COPD include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. In the early stages of the disease, these symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed, but as the disease progresses, they can become more severe and debilitating. There is no cure for COPD, but treatment options are available to manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Medications such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics may be prescribed to relieve symptoms and prevent exacerbations. COPD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and it is estimated that more than 251 million people are affected by this disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and quality of life for those with COPD, and ongoing research is focused on developing new therapies to further improve management of this chronic disease.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Ralph J. Panos, MD is a respiratory physician who developed, along with his colleagues, the Positive-Expiratory Pressure (PEP) device to help individuals with respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, and bronchiectasis to clear their airways. The PEP device creates resistance against the air flow during exhalation, which helps to keep the airways open and promote the removal of mucus from the lungs. The device is usually a small handheld plastic device with a mouthpiece that is attached to a resistance valve.
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