Breathe easier with a device that fits on your belt

It has been well researched and proven that higher levels of physical activity translates to a lower mortality rate for those patients with respiratory conditions. The problem to overcome is how to get patients to endure higher levels of exercise when they already have problems breathing as it is. The Non-invasive Open Ventilation (NIOV) device may be able to allow users to increase their physical activity by allowing them to breathe more easily and be portable enough for it to be used during activities.
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Previous studies have already shown that dyspnea can be reduced by the device and users’ exercise endurance was improved. A more recent study was a lot larger with a more diverse subject pool. Patients used the device for a few hours each day over 6 months. The average number of ER visits lowered, the average stay in ICU lowered and their respiratory testing results also showed a vast improvement. Another study has shown the benefit of patients exercising with both oxygen and NIOV compared to those just exercising or just exercising with oxygen alone. The study concluded that by adding non-invasive ventilation to oxygen during exercise training in patients with severe COPD improved breathlessness, reduced hyperinflation and rates of depression whilst also improving respiratory muscle strength and quality of life.
NIOV is a light, palm-sized device with an easy to use touchscreen that can be strapped to a belt. It increases the amount that you breathe in and delivers a high mixture of oxygen and air. It can be set to three different activity levels; resting, moderate and exercise and can be used plugged in or on the go with a rechargeable battery life of 4 hours. It is connected to a pillows-style nasal interface which is a hybrid between a nasal cannula and a mask but only covers the nostrils allowing you to speak whilst using it. It has been approved by the FDA for patients who suffer from respiratory insufficiency as a result from conditions such as COPD, Interstitial lung disease, neuromuscular conditions and pre/post lung transplant.
The device helps to unload respiratory muscles and allow the lungs to work more efficiently; to make it less of a struggle for users to breathe to allow them to carry out more activities. Patients have the ability to control it when they feel short of breath as and when they need to use it as it is not a continuous device and can be used in conjunction with other supplemental oxygen systems as an additional tool to help slow down the progression of the disease by enabling users to be more physically active.
The next stage of research will be to see the effectiveness of its use during sleeping.
References: http://www.breathetechnologies.com and http://www.hcplive.com and http://www.eurekalert.org and http://copdnewstoday.com

Body weight and COPD

Malnutrition can be a common complication with COPD. This is due to dyspnea, a major symptom of COPD, which makes people feel like they have no appetite. People with COPD require 10 times as many calories as healthy people in order to breathe. A patient may suffer dyspnea, have no appetite and not eat enough. They then cannot get enough energy from their food intake to breathe sufficiently and they can then feel tired and their dyspnea increases, making it a vicious circle. The best way for someone to supplement calories without having to eat more to do so, is to eat foods that are higher in calories. This is just one reason why COPD patient’s need to be careful of their diet.
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Finding the right diet should be part of your management plan for COPD. A healthy diet can help people with COPD maintain an optimal weight and keep COPD symptoms in check, and it provides the much needed energy. The trick is eating right to avoid shortness of breath during meals.
COPD: The Impact of Body Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important in order to control your symptoms but being underweight is just as a bad as being overweight.
If you are overweight then carrying more weight around can increase shortness of breath. One factor that may contribute to the problem is the inflammation associated with fat tissue. But excess fat may also constrict the lungs, making it harder to breathe. The weight of the fat on the chest wall decreases the amount of room for the lungs. It also pushes up on the diaphragm, restricting its movement, particularly when bending over or lying down.
Being underweight however is potentially worse as being underweight and weaker will zap your energy, make it more difficult to breathe as your muscles are weaker and give you a poorer prognosis in the long-term.
COPD: Nutrition Tips
A doctor or nutritionist can help you to work out the plan to suit your medical requirements.
•    Monitor calories: If you are overweight, you can lose weight by eating fewer calories. But don’t eat so few calories that you feel fatigued and hungry all of the time.
•    Avoid fad diets: COPD patients need to eat a healthful, balanced diet instead of going on fad diets to control weight.
•    Focus on protein: Ensure you’re eating enough protein as protein is particularly important for COPD patients who are exercising as part of their pulmonary rehabilitation plan.
•    Watch your portions: COPD patients usually find it better to eat small meals frequently rather than large meals twice a day as it helps lessen shortness of breath.
•    Get balanced: Focus on consuming fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and lean proteins.
•    Limit salt: Consuming excessive sodium can lead to fluid  retention, which can worsen your shortness of breath.
•    Remember your oxygen: If your doctor recommends it, use supplemental oxygen during and after meals to aid in  digestion and help combat any periods of shortness of             breath.
Ensuring you have a healthy diet is extremely important, not just in the types of food that you eat but the amount and frequency that you eat. The right plan can help manage your symptoms, improve quality of life, provide you with energy and help your body fight against infection. With COPD you need more energy to breathe so feed your body well.
References: www.everydayhealth.com and www.copd.about.com and www.health.com

You can sometimes feel short of breath even when on oxygen

Many patients with advanced lung cancer can sometimes feel short of breath even when they are on oxygen and showing that they have an acceptable oxygen level of over 90%. There are a few reasons why this can happen.
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If your oxygen level drops below 88% this signals to the brain that you need more oxygen and initiates dyspnea (shortness of breath) and a sense of air hunger. This signal is also triggered when other pulmonary test levels are low. The Vital Capacity is how much air there is from the beginning to the end of a breath and the FEV1 is a measure of how much air you can forcefully exhale in one second. Even when your oxygen levels are good at 90% if any of the other values are low then the body can sense dyspnea.
The use of an inhaler can be very effective in improving the Vital Capacity and FEV1 and can immediately improve breathing symptoms and stop the feeling of shortness of breath due to the effect the inhalers have on widening the airways.
Also many patients can be not very physically fit due to a combination of the medical illness, age and obesity. Introducing more exercise into daily life can help to improve cardio/respiratory fitness thereby improving the Vital Capacity and FEV1 and helping to reduce the frequency of periods where you feel short of breath.
Low blood counts (anaemia), heart disease and advanced kidney disease are conditions that can also cause dyspnea even if your lungs are working effectively.
Vital capacity and FEV1 are pulmonary tests that your doctor can perform to see how effectively your lungs are working so regular check-ups are important and your doctor can help ensure that if you suffer from these situations that they are treated to help improve your breathing. Some patients find that when these other factors are dealt with that they are less reliant upon their oxygen.
If you suffer from bouts of breathlessness then there are things you can do to help yourself:
•    If you smoke, get help to quit.
•    Try some breathing techniques. If you practise these and use them every day, they will help you when you are active and getting breathless. They will also help you manage if you get short of breath suddenly.
– Blow as you go: breathe out when you are making a big effort, such as standing up, stretching or bending.
– Pursed-lips breathing: breathe out with your lips pursed as if you were whistling.
•    Be more physically active. Physical activity could be walking, gardening, walking the dog, housework or swimming as well as going to a gym. If you have a lung condition, you can be referred to a pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programme by your doctor, and if you have a heart problem there are cardiac rehabilitation services too. These classes help you to get control over your breathlessness, get you fitter and are also lots of fun.
•    Drink and eat healthily and manage your weight.  If you are carrying excess weight you will require more effort to breathe and move around, and it will be more difficult to get control over your feelings of breathlessness.
•    Get treatment if you feel stressed or anxious.
•    Use the right medication in the right way. If you use inhalers, tablets or liquids to control your breathing ensure you know how and when to take them correctly.
•    Ensure your oxygen flow rate is correct. Another reason why regular check-ups are important so your doctor can monitor your oxygen requirements and adjust your oxygen flow rate accordingly for your oxygen concentrator.
References: http://www.coalitionforpf.org and http://www.blf.org.uk