COPD morning blues

blue morningsCOPD symptoms are experienced throughout the day, however the morning is often the most difficult time for patients. The condition negatively impacts upon their normal daily activities from the minute they wake up in the morning. They find that their morning routine of getting up, showering and getting ready are significantly slowed down due to COPD symptoms. Patients often find that the interference from the symptoms in the morning is a greater challenge than the symptoms themselves.
Symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and phlegm production are all increased usually due to a build-up of mucus overnight and for many it means that more strenuous activities tend to take longer and many find that they have to get up earlier to allow time to complete them. Many patients report that they have had to change their morning routine to compensate, either changing the order in which they do things, allowing more time and rest gaps or changing activities completely.
Some rest in bed for a short period upon waking before even getting out of bed, some also take medication or oxygen at that point also. Many avoid the stairs and some switch from showers to baths as it is less strenuous and you can rest your legs. Also having a breakfast that is quicker to prepare such as fruit and yoghurt helps save time and effort. Grab bars in the shower or along long hallways allow you to have a rest if needed.
Morning headaches are another common complaint from COPD patients, usually those who need night-time therapy or are in more developed stages of the disease. These dull, throbbing headaches are present as soon as they wake up. The cause is either too little oxygen in the blood or too much carbon dioxide in the blood which is a result of the lung damage. Another cause can be too much oxygen in the blood, a result of night-time oxygen therapy. This imbalance of carbon dioxide or oxygen can cause blood vessels to expand as the brain tries to get as much oxygen as possible and causes the headaches. If the headaches are due to night-time therapy then your flow rate can be adjusted to try and stop this from happening. If the headaches are due to general COPD night-time breathing then exercise can help to improve lung function and medications can help to reduce the swelling of the arteries. Some find that a short burst of oxygen in the morning can alleviate them and the right pillow can help to keep the head in the best position for breathing.
Morning symptoms can interfere with a patient’s career, lifestyle and mental well-being. Based on a recent survey, 1 in 4 working patients had to change jobs, 1 in 2 are often late for work or appointments and 2 in 3 had to cut back working hours. So even though your symptoms may only be bad in the morning and alleviate throughout the day, the impact they can have upon your morning routine can alter many major aspects of your life. Therefore it is important to keep in communication with your doctor and to try any of the tips above to try and reduce these symptoms to help improve the patient’s quality of life.

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7 surprising headache triggers

It’s easy to blame headaches on the usual suspects, such as workload and skipping your morning coffee. But did you know that there are other lesser known set-offs, which, if not identified, could cause frequent headaches? According to Dr Frederick Freitag, former director of headache medicine at Baylor University Medical Centre, us, if you know the root cause of your headache, you can often prevent it from occurring in the first place. As compiled from the Health magazine, and, here’s how to gun down hidden headache triggers.
A theory behind heat causing headache is that the body’s attempt to cool itself by sending more blood to the skin deprives the brain of oxygen. In the February 2012 issue of Head Wise, a publication of the National Headache Foundation, Dr Vincent T Martin mentioned that summer brings with it a unique set of triggers, such as sunlight, dehydration, increased physical activity, allergies and humidity.
Remedy: You can’t change the weather, but you can take steps to keep cool.  Stay in an air-conditioned environment on hot days and keep yourself well-hydrated when outdoors or exercising. If the AC isn’t an option, avoid getting out when the sun is too bright.
Pain medication
Overusing pain medicines can exacerbate headaches. When taken too regularly, prescription narcotics or medicines containing caffeine and antihistamines can interfere with the brain’s pain-regulation system. Over-the-counter pain relievers, too, can cause rebound headaches. They lower your pain threshold and make your headache feel worse, said Dr Brian Grosberg, co-director of the headache centre at the Montefiore Headache Centre in the Bronx, New York.
Remedy: Limit pain medications to two days a week and never take them more than the label allows. If your head still pounds, then stick to chamomile tea and opt for a nap.
Not eating
On busy days, you may think stress is causing your head to ache, but maybe, you just forgot to eat. “Your brain runs on two things: glucose, which comes from the food you eat, and oxygen,” Dr Freitag explained. “When it doesn’t get enough of either, the brain tells you that its needs aren ’t getting met by firing up pain-sensitive neurons.”
Remedy: Make sure you fuel up every four to six hours. To keep blood sugar steady, avoid junky sugary snacks. Instead, choose something with slow-burning protein and complex carbohydrates.
Cheddar cheese
Certain foods may bring on headaches. Fermented or aged products, including cider vinegar, soy sauce, and cheeses such as blue, Swiss and cheddar, contain tyramine, an amino acid that can trigger headaches by constricting and expanding blood vessels. Over-processed meats, such as hot dogs and salami, pack a double blow since they often contain both tyramine and preservatives called nitrates, which can increase blood flow to the brain.
Remedy: Keep track of what you eat and when your headaches strike. If you find that certain foods are triggers, try not consuming them and see if it helps. If you’re craving a sandwich, choose fresh meats instead of processed.
Magnesium deficiency
If you’re not getting enough of this vital element, you may suffer from headaches. Dr Mauskop’s research has found that up to 50% of people who suffer from acute migraine attacks have low levels of magnesium in their blood.
Remedy: Add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, including green vegetables such as spinach, whole grains, fish, seeds and nuts. If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, you may need to take a supplement of anywhere from 200 to 600 mg per day.
Computer usage
Studies show that headaches from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) are common, according to the American Optometric Association. And despite the name, this condition causes problems for more than just the eyes. The continuous flexing of the eye-focusing muscles creates fatigue, eyestrain and headaches.
Remedy: Follow good ergonomics to prevent computer eyestrain and the headaches that erupt as a result. Set your monitor, so the top of the screen is slightly below eye level. Also, sit up straight and make sure your chair supports your neck and back, Dr Freitag said.
Teeth clenching
If you often suffer from morning headaches, then head to the dentist. A lesser-known but common reason for headaches is clenching or grinding your teeth at night. Known as bruxism, this condition can most commonly get triggered by stress. Certain medications or poor tooth alignment could also be a cause. Most people grind their teeth in their sleep at some time in their lives, but many never find out.
Remedy: Ask your dentist to check for signs of tooth-grinding, including cracked or worn-down teeth. You may be fitted with a custom night guard, which keeps your teeth from touching and helps realign your bite while you sleep. If you want to skip the dental visit, try relaxing before bed with a warm bath, meditate or practice deep-breathing exercises.
(ref from The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2014.)
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