The benefits of oxygen can be felt by anyone, not just those suffering from a medical condition and requiring supplemental oxygen. We can all find easy ways to increase our oxygen levels naturally through breathing exercises, general exercise, getting more fresh air and eating a balanced diet of foods that help increase oxygenation in our blood.
Increasing your oxygenation levels and being fit and healthy has shown to be important for your health as optimum oxygen levels can improve wound healing, vision, mental clarity and intelligence, boost your immune system, help fight cancer cells, reduce stress levels, improve your heart and respiration and help you to lose weight.
For those people who use supplemental oxygen at home there are also long-term benefits:
- Prolongs life by reducing heart strain
- Decreases shortness of breath
- Makes exercise more tolerable
- Results in fewer days of hospitalization
- Improves sleeping
- Improves quality of life
There are millions of people diagnosed with COPD around the world and 15% of these are prescribed oxygen. The number of COPD patients coming into the market is increasing and is expected to continue to increase for many more years. COPD patients are also increasingly being prescribed oxygen until the end of their life expectancy combined with the fact that COPD is being diagnosed earlier in life due to an increased awareness of the condition means that many more people will be requiring oxygen for longer periods of time.
For those people who suffer with any type of lung condition they may have difficulties when travelling by air. This is due to the reduced air pressure in the aircraft cabins as well as the lack of mobility for long periods of time. Air pressure in an aircraft cabin is lower than air pressure at ground level and feels like being at 6000 to 8000 feet on a mountain. At high altitudes blood oxygen levels fall in everyone, and some people may feel a little breathless. In most people this has no health effect, but if you already have low blood oxygen levels because of your lung condition, then the extra dip that happens while you are in the plane can cause breathlessness and discomfort for you.
Essential Tips to remember before flying:
- Ask your doctor well in advance for a letter to take in your hand luggage with details of your condition and medication.
- Be sure to take your inhalers in your carry-on bags. One of the most common problems is that people pack their inhalers in the luggage that goes into the hold.
- If you get breathless when walking, make sure you have help at airports.
- Try to move about every hour. Sitting for too long can lead to blood clots in the legs.
- Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks during the flight..
At OxygenWorldwide we wanted to know if in our 25 years of existence with oxygen users had died from the use of medical oxygen. We are glad to state that we have not found any proof of death related to the use of medical oxygen.
As November marked National COPD Awareness Month we thought it gave justice to another article! An internationally-recognized event held annually to enhance exposure around chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke or exposure to air pollutants like cigarette smoke or outdoor pollution in the home or at work, family history, and respiratory infections like pneumonia also increase your risk.
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Frequent coughing or wheezing
- Excess phlegm or sputum
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble taking a deep breath
If you experience these symptoms, you should discuss them with your GP. One way to treat COPD is supplemental oxygen from a portable oxygen tank if blood oxygen levels are low.
People living with arthritis are at greater risk of a deadly lung disease, it has been warned.
The 400,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis in Britain, and 50 million in the US, are almost 50 per cent more likely to end up with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of a new study.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints.
But the extra problems come from the inflammation it causes in those joints.
The authors of the study, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, say people with arthritis should be vigilant in looking for the first signs of COPD, which is the second most common lung disease after asthma in Britain.
The researchers followed 24,625 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 25,396 people who were free of the condition to record how many were hospitalised with COPD.
While it was once thought COPD was caused by inflammation in the lungs specifically, experts now think inflammation elsewhere in the body could also be a trigger.
Dr Lacaille added: ‘Our results emphasize the need to control inflammation, and in fact to aim for complete eradication of inflammation through effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.’
Short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the term refers to progressive lung disease that is characterised by increasing breathlessness.
- Chest tightness
- Increased feelings of breathlessness
- Frequent coughing
- Feeling short of breath, especially when engaged in physical activity
- Clearing your throat of excess mucus first thing in the morning
- A chronic cough that may produce clear, white, yellow or greenish mucus
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
- Lacking in energy
- Having respiratory infections on a regular basis
- Swelling in the ankles, feet or legs
- Unintentional weight loss (as it progresses)
Enter a new smartphone app that aims to use technology to help COPD sufferers to recognize emergencies, and avoid unnecessary doctors’ or ER visits.
Ted Smith is the CEO of Revon Systems, a tech company based in East Louisville, and the developer of the “Smart COPD” app. The app is designed on a simple premise: that some of those emergency room visits could have been prevented if people were able to track their symptoms.
“The focus of the app is helping you keep track of whether your systems are starting to deteriorate so that you don’t have to get to a point where you have to go to the hospital for emergency care” Smith said.
When you open the app, it poses a series of questions: “Shortness of breath?” “Cough?” and “Running nose or feeling like you have a cold?” It also asks for temperature, and for users to punch in the readings from a separate device that measures oxygen saturation and heart rate.
Finally, the app evaluates the information and tells the user whether they need to head to the ER, call their doctor, check back in a few days or that no medical attention is needed.
It’s simple, and requires only a cell phone and a cheap finger oxygen and heart rate monitor.
“People have telephones, they’re our life line. So putting a self-management tool on a cell phone is just a genius idea,” Montague said.
He sees that as a possible opportunity for Smart COPD to reach more people with low-incomes.
“If there’s one thing I wish for, it’s that we take advantage of something we’re already paying for as a society and turn it into health care,” Smith said.
Interested? Search for ‘Revon Systems’ in your App store and look for the “Smart COPD” app.
People used to speak of emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (or COPD as it is generally referred to) is a collective term used to describe several chronic lung diseases, which limit airflow to and from the lungs.
COPD is much more than a so-called “smoker’s cough”. It’s a serious, progressive life-threatening disease, which causes ongoing breathing difficulties – and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015 it killed more than three million people worldwide.
A large international study established that the highest prevalence of Stage 2 or higher COPD was among people in Cape Town, South Africa, and it surmised that both smoking and occupational dust were responsible.
The causes of COPD
Tobacco smoke (this includes second hand exposure), pollution (especially indoor air pollution from cooking fuels in low-income contries) and fumes, as well as frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood can all be causes of COPD. Many people are exposed to fumes, dust and pollution while at work.
Required lifestyle changes if you have COPD
It is essential that you stop smoking, and also avoid spaces where other people smoke. Also avoid polluted or dusty areas. A healthy diet and regular exercise are both also essential to maintain your health and manage your COPD.
To people with COPD, even a common cold can easily lead to a more serious lower respiratory tract infection, making it even more difficult to breathe than usual. People with COPD need to alert their doctor if their COPD symptoms get worse. Treatment may include inhaled medications, oxygen and antibiotics. It is important to note that antibiotics can help to treat a bacterial infection, but not any condition (like the common cold) caused by a virus.
“While about 80% of COPD cases are related to having smoked, 20% are not,” says Dr. Bartolome Celli, a pulmonologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Symptoms include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections, fatigue, excess phlegm, and even a blue tint to the lips or fingernails. But many of these are brushed aside.
“People may feel their symptoms are normal consequences of aging or having smoked. They don’t look for help until later in the course of the disease,” says Dr. Celli.
Early detection and prevention are key by quitting smoking; decreasing your exposure to air pollutants; getting vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia; and getting the medications necessary.
Will yoga exercises help COPD patients manage breathlessness better?
Many people who suffer from a lung disease find it very hard to exercise. Often even the thought of physical activity makes them feel breathless. But there is a way to overcome these fears that only lead to a downward spiral of both physical and mental decline, practising yoga. This low impact form of exercise will not only help raising your energy levels, it also clears your mind from worry. Being good for everybody, it is also more and more recommended especially for people with lung diseases, like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases commonly known as COPD.
Why can yoga exercises be especially beneficial for COPD patients?
In yoga practice there are two essential parts that complement each other in a synergistic way. One part is the Asanas, physical posture that improve range of motion, balance, flexibility and strength of the body. The other part is the Pranayamas, breathing techniques that teach you how to control your breathing and keep your lungs more fully. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles. The two combined will help you improve your general fitness and make breathing easier and more efficient. Additional meditation helps relieve stress and anxiety, which allows you to extend the benefits of the pranayamas and asanas.
Pranayamas, breathing techniques, that can be beneficial for COPD patients are:
This is an exercise especially suitable to learn control your breathlessness. While leaning slightly forward you slowly breath out with your lips pursed, imagine you are blowing a kiss or cooling your soup. This slows down the exhalation and stimulates the abdominal muscles to contract and forces the diaphragm upwards, so the lungs will empty themselves better. Instead of long inhalations and short exhalations, which is a common reaction to breathlessness, you learn to do it the other way around, with an ideal rhythm being to make the exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. Not only will this calm you down and relieve the breathlessness, it also help to strengthen the breathing muscles.
Abdominal or Belly Breathing
COPD patient can benefit especially from the abdominal breathing technique, as it stimulates the diaphragm moving upward and downward, so more oxygen can be taken into the lower lobes of the lungs and spread through the body. At the same time the abdominal organs are massaged by the moving diaphragm, thus improving their intake of oxygen and functioning. By doing the belly breath your body relaxes and becomes re-energized at the same time.
Ujjayi Breathing or Ocean Breath
This is a special form of breath, typically used while practicing asanas. It is used to slow down the breath and make an audible sound by creating a constriction in the base of your throat, like you do when blowing out to create a fog on a mirror. It helps you to stay calm during the practice while focusing on the sound and avoiding breathlessness. It also is said to create heat in your body, which helps to keep up your energy levels throughout the practice. The diaphragm controls the length and the speed of your breath and will become stronger in doing so.
Correct breathing is an essential part of yoga; as the blood will be provided with more oxygen, which makes it possible to control energy levels and this will help you relax and calm your mind. Once you have controlled your breath by practicing pranayamas, you will feel more comfortable and confident to start practicing asanas.
Asanas, physical postures, recommended for COPD patients are:
Standing Mountain Pose
This is a straightforward pose, from which all other standing poses are performed. It requires you to stand tall, either with your arms raised or left hanging loosely at your sides. It teaches you to align your spine and balance the weight of your body, while focusing on your inner self. Your chest will open up and breathing will become easier.
Standing Back Bend
This pose is performed from the Standing Mountain Pose by placing your hands on your lower back with the fingers pointing down and arching your spine back. It helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders and opens up the respiratory system.
Standing Side Bends
These bends not only improve your posture by standing taller, it also regulates your breathing. The basic standing side bend is easily performed from the Standing Mountain pose. By exhaling with each bend, you stretch alternately to the left and to the right. This calming pose improves the flexibility of your rib cage and helps to strengthen your diaphragm to make breathing easier.
Seated Forward Bends
There are several seated forward bends, performed from either a chair or the floor. These poses calm the brain, stimulate the organs and stretch the spine and the shoulders to give more room to your lungs and help you to relax.
These are only a few examples of pranayamas and asanas that you can practice to help improve your lung condition. If reading this story triggered your enthusiasm to give it a try, do take some precautions before you begin. Things to consider are for example:
– Consult with your doctor or respiratory therapist about what is possible in your condition
– Always join a recognized yoga school, don´t go practicing by yourself without any coaching
– Be sure the yoga teacher of your choice is qualified, also for training special groups like COPD patients
– During class, always keep your inhaler or oxygen supply at hand
– Don´t overexert yourself, take a rest if you get exhausted or experience shortness of breath
With these precautions in mind and a good yoga teacher, you will surely be able to experience the benefits that can yoga give you, a fitter body and a mind more at ease.
For those who have always wondered medically and simply what COPD is watch this video here: