DOCTORS and nurses in Hampshire will be offering shoppers free breathing tests today in a bid to improve lung health across the city.

Staff from Southampton General Hospital will use World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day to highlight the importance of regular testing and early diagnosis at Sainsbury’s in Portswood.

The condition, which is known to affect more than 900,000 people over the age of 35, causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed and can lead to a range of breathing diseases including bronchitis and emphysema.

Although there is no cure, lifestyle changes can help patients manage their symptoms and prevent deterioration – and specialists hope the day will encourage more people to get their lungs tested for COPD, along with other conditions including asthma.

Respiratory research nurse Pauline Rachman said: “Our event is now in its fourth year and, on every occasion so far, we have found lung problems in around a third of all attendees and have been able to send them in the right direction for help.”

Participants will undertake a free five-minute spirometry test to measure their lung capacity and, if the results raise concern, they will be given a letter to take to their GP for further investigation.

Tests will be taking place between 10am and 4pm.