Lung disease is a major killer in the UK and it’s crucial to get early diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, too many people ignore signs like unusual breathlessness and chronic coughing and doctors may take it for granted too.
17,000 extra people being diagnosed with treatable lung conditions
I hold my hands up. I was blasé when I felt uncharacteristically breathless climbing steps last year with a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. I just put it down to getting older and stress. I actually did the British Lung Foundation’s new online breath test, designed to help people understand their symptoms and point them in the direction of getting medical help if there are any worrying signs. The test, which we launched last year and has potentially resulted in 17,000 extra people being diagnosed with treatable lung conditions, is simple to do and takes a few minutes. After I finished answering the questions, I was advised to see my doctor, but I ignored it. I wish I hadn’t since that bad decision meant many extra months of pain and unnecessary suffering.
As it turned out, when my symptoms became much worse and I finally did make an appointment to see my GP, I was suffering from a rare autoimmune disorder – sarcoidosis. The BLF Breath Test had been right to advise me to seek a medical opinion. Now, I am being treated for the incurable disease which causes small patches of red and swollen tissue, called granulomas, to develop on organs of the body, including the lungs. My symptoms are now under control and should improve further, but I wish I had acted earlier.
So my message in Phase 2 of our Listen to Your Lungs Campaign, launching in February, is join the 200,000 people in the UK who have already taken our online Breath Test, and act on the advice that it gives you.
We are also asking primary care respiratory specialists to promote the campaign to a wider audience of GPs, who may come into contact with patients experiencing breathlessness, but do not have a special expertise in lung health. Our aim in the second phase of this campaign is to increase awareness among healthcare professionals and share the public health message.
Try the test here www.blf.org.uk/breathtest