January 8, 2003
by Dr. David Marks
It's never too late to make a new year's resolution to quit smoking.
Many people who smoke have lung damage, and don't even know it. But a new test you can take at home may help you find out.
Marti Perrone smoked for 25 years. "Even running down the stairs, I was winded. Just always feeling out of Breath," Marti says. "I was concerned because of the wheezing and shortness of breath."
But like a lot of smokers, she put off seeing a doctor. "Most people, when they have symptoms, are in denial for at least the Initial part of the symptoms until someone around them or they themselves realize that this is not going away," said Dr. Len Horovitz, Pulmonologist.
"A friend told me that if I clicked onto the web, I could go through this Lung Profiler and have questions answered. And this is what I really needed to do before going to the doctor," said Perrone.
The Lung Profiler is an internet-based questionnaire , developed by the American Lung Association. It helps people find out if their lungs are in bad shape.
Among the questions-- Do you smoke? Are you short of Breath? Do you have a lot of phlegm?
Then it takes your answers and calculates the chances you've already damaged your lungs. "He told me I must see an M.D.,” said Perrone. “The profiler kept prompting me to go to see my M.D. And there was lung damage."
"The value is identifying patients who wouldn't otherwise know that they have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Pulmonologist Dr. Len Horovitz.
Which is also known as smoker's lung, or emphysema.
After making a diagnosis, Dr. Horovitz prescribed a treatment program, Including medications that you inhale. Marti's no longer wheezing or short of breath.
And she's glad she used the lung profiler when she did. "For me it was very valuable. I probably would never have gone to the Doctor," said Marti.
It also motivated her to quit smoking. She hasn't had a cigarette in two Months.
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