For the last few months, we’ve been inundated with stories of COVID-19, and with good reason, considering the global pandemic reached over 5 million cases worldwide as of this writing. Yet some days, it’s increasingly difficult to read the news. So today, Patient Worthy is bringing you a more positive story. With funding by NHS Charities Together, Oxford Hospitals Charity donated lung monitoring machines to 120 patients with cystic fibrosis across the United Kingdom. These machines, which track and monitor lung function, allow patients to understand their condition without risking a visit to the hospital.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that results in progressive digestive system and respiratory damage. Mucus plays a role in both systems. In the digestive system, mucus is a lubricant that also protects from damage. In the respiratory system, mucus traps “invaders” like bacteria or pollen. But instead of slippery mucus, people with cystic fibrosis have a thick, sticky mucus that accumulates and clogs their system. Additionally, this mucus can pool, creating an environment where bacteria thrive.
Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:
- Trouble absorbing nutrients, as mucus prevents digestive enzymes from releasing
- Frequent lung infections
- Shortness of breath and difficulty exercising
- Difficulty with weight gain
- Salty skin
- A persistent cough
- Infertility (in men)
Learn more about cystic fibrosis here.
Six weeks: that’s how long children with cystic fibrosis should wait in between seeing the doctor to effectively track their lung function. This also allows doctors to recognize treatment efficacy, potential lung infections, or other rising health issues.
But with COVID-19, many doctors offices closed their doors – or are, at the very least, taking less patient appointments. This is because COVID-19 is extremely infectious. Additionally, scientists are still trying to figure out if those with pre-existing conditions are automatically more at risk.
Herein lies the issue. Patients and their families need to feel reassured that their health is being protected in a time of uncertainty. This is where the lung monitors come in. With just a 2-week turnaround, the monitors allow for patients to perform routine testing – and ensure their safety – from their homes. Basically, patients blow into the monitor for one second and the amount of air (forced expiratory volume) is measured.
16-year-old Joseph Lomax says:
“This data is incredibly important as it gives healthcare professionals the opportunity to see how well [mine and other] patients’ lungs are functioning.”