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Room to breathe

September 06 2017
Lung health can be a big issue for homeless people...

Good breathing is essential to a good quality of life, but lung health can be a big issue for homeless people.

When you see a medical professional you often only have a short time with them. Make the most of your time and go in armed with this checklist:

1. Do you have any of the following issues?
• Regularly feel breathless
• Coughing
• Coloured phlegm
• ‘Rattley’ chests
• Wheezy breath
• Pain when you breathe

2. How long have you had these issues?

3. How many health issues/disabilities are you aware you have?

4. What medication are you on?

5. Do you have pain anywhere?

6. Your current housing situation?

7. Do you smoke? How much?

8. Do you use drugs? Which ones?

Groundswell spoke to 330 people experiencing homelessness about their breathing problems. They found:
• 85 per cent smoke tobacco (50 per cent of whom want to quit)
• 69 per cent "expect to have a cough" whilst rough sleeping
• 69 per cent had breathing difficulties due to traffic fumes
• 64 per cent of rough sleepers had chest infections
• 46 per cent smoked second-hand cigarette butts regularly
• 8 per cent had bronchitis
• They were three times more likely to have an inhaler
• They were two and a half times more likely to have COPD
• They were twice as likely to have asthma

Get vaccinated Ask a health professional for your flu jab (every autumn) & pneumonia jab (just once)

Watch where you sleep If you're sleeping out, avoid pigeon droppings and mould if you can

Avoid fumes if possible Sleeping and sitting out on busy roads can make it difficult to breath

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