Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Help for COPD patients

People with COPD and their loved ones can get advice on managing the debilitating lung disease during an event at Mary Washington Hospital on Oct. 27.

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, describes a group of conditions that make it hard for people to breathe. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main kinds of COPD.

At the health fair, respiratory therapists, physicians, a dietitian, support group members and others will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions. The event is from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Silver Building, on the second floor above the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic, on the hospital campus.

People with certain risk factors may receive a free breathing test (spirometry) or Alpha 1 blood test at the event, and respiratory therapists will provide training on how to effectively use the inhaled medicines commonly prescribed to COPD patients.

The first 75 people who complete inhaler training will receive a free spacer, a device that can maximize the effect of an inhaler. Training is important because many people don’t know the proper technique, “and thus don’t get a full dose of their medications,” said Kelly Brown, an asthma educator at the hospital.

Members and facilitators of a tobacco-cessation group also will be available to offer support and answer questions, and translators will be in attendance to help Spanish-speaking patients.

For more information about the event, contact Brown at 540/741-4023 or by email at