(01/22/13) - A special kind of flute is helping some patients suffering COPD save
their lungs. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The
damage the disease does can be irreversible. That is where the "Lung
Flute" comes in.
Bernard and Barbara Swanekamp have a lifetime worth of memories.
After 56 years of marriage, "he's my best friend," Barbara says.
But after a lifetime of smoking, Bernard has the chronic lung disease, COPD. "It restricts my lungs. I don't like doing this, but if this is the way I have to live, then this is the way I have to live."
Life has been easier the past year thanks to the lung flute. "Usually I wind up in the hospital one or two times a year in the winter time. Last winter, there was nothing."
Some people with COPD have excess mucus in their lungs. When patients blow into the flute, sound waves are sent down the airways, mobilizing that mucus. Studies show using it twice a day improves lung congestion and other symptoms.
"It helps with clearance of the mucus and essentially, then they feel better the rest of the day," says Dr. Sanjay Sethi of the University of Buffalo.
It may also help protect against potentially fatal respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, he adds, "there were patients who would come to me all the time and they say, 'listen, once I clear the mucus, I feel better.'"
Bernard relies on the flute. "It saves me a lot of trips to the hospital, I'll tell you that. This thing has made a world of difference in my life. It really has."
The lung flute is FDA approved. Insurance usually covers the cost. If not, the flute and a six month supply of reeds runs around $50.
You do need a prescription to get one.
ABC12 Main Station