Asthma Waikato - Always here to help

Recently a G.P. referred a lady for spirometry (lung function testing). Her symptoms were continual shortness of breath impacting on her daily activities. There was no history of asthma in the family, she had never smoked or worked in conditions that may affect her breathing. She presented as being short of breath but scored a normal spirometry reading. After taking reliever medication we repeated the test to see whether there was any improvement but nothing changed. Why then was this lady so breathless?

While taking her medical history and observing her I felt she had a breathing issue. She was taking quite small, shallow breathes, she admitted to being anxious about many things happening in her life and we had made many attempts to get a good six seconds blow to meet the criteria for an acceptable spirometry test.

I asked whether she had the time and the energy to speak with Tracy, (Tracy Keelan, Community Respiratory Nurse) who had recently completed a course at AUT on breathing disorders.

Tracy spent nearly an hour with her explaining the basics of good breathing techniques and gave her some exercises to do at home. Tracy explained it wouldn't happen overnight but if she kept up the exercises things would improve.

A month later we made a follow up phone call to see how things were progressing. Her G.P. had understandably not made any respiratory diagnosis from the spirometry test and encouraged her to try the breathing exercises. She was not 100% but was improving and feeling much better and more in control of her life.

Initially this lady was a client for just a spirometry test but due to the team approach used at the asthma centre she was able to benefit from the extra expertise available.


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