Living with a lung disease can be a constant cycle of emergency room visits and hospitalization.

With nearly 15 per cent of the population suffering from some degree of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, that can create a considerable strain on the health-care system.

To help those patients live more independently and to help ease the burden on the system, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is promoting a breathing test and patient guide to help diagnose and manage the disease.

“The goal is to provide better care, everything from diagnosis to self-management, to availability of services in the community,” said Champlain LHIN chief executive officer Dr. Robert Cushman.

Cushman encouraged using a spirometry lung test to help doctors better diagnose asthma and COPD.

The test involves patients breathing as hard as possible into a specialized mouthpiece that measures the severity of the airway obstruction.

“If we have these tools, we can do a much better job of diagnosing and monitoring the disease.”

According to Dr. Shawn Aaron, the division head, Respiration Medicine at the Ottawa Hospital, 30 per cent of patients have been wrongly diagnosed with asthma.

To help lung disease patients, asthma patient Carmela Graziani wrote Breathing Easier — A guide for Asthma and COPD patients in the Champlain Region.