Turks measure their breath
29 May 2008 -- Hundreds of Turks queued voluntarily on Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, to do a spirometry test to get to know their lung capacity. Spirometry is one type of pulmonary function test that measures how much and how fast you can move air into and out of your lungs. This test is used to determine if the shortness of breath is related to an illness affecting the respiratory system. Spirometry is most often used to diagnose and monitor lung problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Once a lung disease is diagnosed, spirometry tests can monitor changes in lung function over time.
A dozen of volunteers of the Turkish Thoracic Society (TTS) organized in a truck spirometry tests to raise awareness on chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD and asthma. In doing the test, the disease can be detected in early stages, before symptoms show up, and therefore offers a chance for timely prevention and control.
"We do encourage people to measure their breath", says Dr Eyüp Sabri Uçan, president of TTS. In Turkey, more than 5 million people suffer from asthma and COPD. COPD is the third cause of death in the country and only one out of 10 COPD patients knows actually that he or she has the disease (1) .
"Doing a spirometry test doesn't hurt and is very simple", says volunteer Hatice Uzel. "Basically, you take in a deep breath and blow into a mouthpiece attached to the spirometer. Then you blow out as hard and as fast as they can until their lungs feel absolutely empty". The test is repeated two to three times until there are consistent results.
During the same period, Turkey hosted the third General Meeting of the Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) and launched GARD Turkey. GARD, which contributes to the global work of the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent and control chronic diseases, is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations, institutions and agencies working towards the common goal of improving global lung health.