Respiratory therapist, Linda Hosfield, left, is working with Shirley Erickson, center. Mike Hauge, respiratory therapist, is another team member.

Let’s face it. Breathing is something that most people don’t think about. Unless you’re participating in a vigorous athletic activity, you probably go for days without noticing that you’re breathing at all. But if you suffer from asthma, emphysema, or any form of COPD, simply breathing can be a challenge. Linda Hosfield is the director of the pulmonary rehab department at Ringgold County Hospital, and she works regularly with patients to help them improve their pulmonary functioning and their overall health. “Our number one goal is to help people quit smoking,” she said. “The practitioners in the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic are all available with ideas and aids to help people quit smoking. The American Lung Association and Quitline Iowa are also great resources.” Ruth Smith, a Ringgold County Hospital physical therapist, is also certified in hypnotherapy which has proven to be a successful tool for some people who want to quit smoking.

According to Linda, whether you’re a former smoker, or have lung disease caused by something else, exercise provides great benefits. “We teach patients how to keep their bodies healthy without medication. Maintaining your muscles is paramount to breathing. We specifically work on increasing endurance muscles. If you can exercise for an hour instead of 10 minutes, you’ll make a lot more progress. Exercise is all natural, with no side effects.”

Linda also teaches both children and adults how to protect their lungs and maintain pulmonary health. “Avoid chemicals, smoke, and air pollution whenever possible, and practice preventative maintenance,” she says. “Everyone should get a flu shot, and people over 65 should get pneumonia shots as well.” While anyone can get the flu, according to the American Lung Association, certain groups are at increased risk of flu-related infection and complications, including adults 50 and older. The stakes are especially high for people living with chronic health conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease. The flu can make these and other conditions worse, causing serious life-changing and life-threatening illness. Flu shots are available at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic and Ringgold County Public Health. According to Linda, “It’s never too late to get your flu shot!”

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