CINCINNATI, Oh. - “The main cause of breathlessness in COPD is something called air trapping, or dynamic hyperinflation. It’s an inability to exhale all of the air that one takes in,” explained Dr. Ralph Panos, pulmonologist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Treatments can include a rescue inhaler or steroids, and patients are taught a special method of breathing to practice.

“They learned something called pursed lip breathing, which is breathing out through pursed lips to create that back pressure,” said Dr. Panos.

Panos and his colleagues created a hands-free device to help patients to simulate pursed lip breathing. The device is called the positive expiratory pressure, or PEP Buddy.

“It's just simply placed in the mouth, one breathes in through the nose, and then out through the device. That resistance to airflow creates the back pressure, which relieves the air trapping and dynamic hyperinflation,” Dr. Panos demonstrated.

Researchers say there are many benefits of slow breathing and exhalation. Now, a tiny tool can help.

Dr. Panos and his colleagues developed the PEP Buddy with help from a University of Cincinnati department that provides a launchpad for entrepreneurs.

Researchers are in the process of obtaining what’s called class one approval from the FDA, which is for medical devices that are considered low risk for consumer use.

Since the device is considered low risk, it can be available for purchase before it gets FDA-approval.

The PEP Buddy is currently being sold for $25 and is not covered by insurance.

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