CINCINNATI, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About 12.5 million Americans have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. With COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways. The tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged, and unable to stretch and shrink. Now, a team of physician-scientists have developed a non-invasive device that can help patients with their breathing.

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine pulmonologist, Ralph Panos, MD explains, “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.”

Treatments include a rescue inhaler and steroids. Patients are also taught to practice a special method of breathing.

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

Dr. Panos and his colleagues developed a hands-free device that helps patients 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 demonstrates.

The 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. The 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.

Contributors to this news report include Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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