Can meat be bad for asthma?

Experts say people should eat no more than 70g a day of red and processed meat for good health with processed meat possibly making asthma symptoms worse.
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A study carried out in France ‘journal Thorax’ believe the preservative nitrite used in sausages, ham and salami may make these symptoms worse. The survey looked specifically at asthma symptoms – breathlessness, wheeze, chest tightness – and intake of cured meat: a single portion was two slices of ham, one sausage or two slices of salami.

“People who said they consumed more than four portions a week – eight slices of ham or four sausages, for example – had the biggest deterioration of their asthma by the end of the study.”

 
The experts stress that their work cannot prove diet is definitely to blame. There are lots of factors in a person’s life that can make their asthma worse.
references: bbcnews.co.uk

A healthy lifestyle also helps to keep your lungs healthy!

We all know that a healthy lifestyle can help us lose weight, get more energy and give us a better quality of life in general. But it is little known that good exercise and healthy food is especially beneficial for the well-being of your lungs also, both for people who still have healthy lungs as for people who suffer from any lung disease already.
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Exercising doesn’t necessarily mean exhausting yourself
For people who have a lung disease, like asthma or COPD, exercising often seems just bridge too far. But exercising does not have to be strenuous. A small research with COPD patients doing mild exercises in a bath filled with warm spring water showed a remarkable reduction of their symptoms and improvement of the condition of their lungs as well as their oxygen saturation. Also special training like yoga or tai chi have seen to be very wholesome for COPD patients, and can even slow down the progression of diseases like emphysema.
For asthma patients, especially those suffering from exercise-induced asthma, a simple exercise as blowing in a bottle regularly, can improve their lung function significantly. This was demonstrated by a research where 212 patients were asked to blow into a bottle every 4 hours, during 4 months. After this period their FEV (Forced Expiratory Volume, which is the amount of air that can be blown out in a one second forced exhalation) showed a stable improvement of their lung function. Apart from that they needed to use their inhalers a lot less during this period. 65-75% of the improvement remained for over half a year, even without blowing in the bottle.
It seems only logical that, if these simple exercises are so beneficial to already damaged lungs, they would be just perfect to keep your still healthy lungs in tip top shape. So don’t wait until it is too late, start exercising and let your lungs absorb the oxygen to energise your body. No need for exhausting exercises, a nice walk in the fresh air, that you can breathe in deeply, is sufficient and may be even the best!
Eat vegetables and fruits to keep your lungs in the best possible condition
More and more scientists and researchers emphasise the importance of eating ample fruit and veggies, around 400 grams daily, to keep our bodies healthy. Specific research has recently shown that especially our lungs also benefit from this kind of diet. A researcher from the section Health & Environment from the University of Washington in Seattle found that frequent consumption of vegetables and fruits reduces the chance to develop COPD or other lung diseases, while for people already suffering from COPD, it improved their lung function significantly. Other research found that eating fruits and vegetables offers protection against lung cancer.
If possible, try to get biological products, as these contain more anti oxidants than the regularly grown vegetables and fruits. Furthermore, the biological varieties contain more polyphenols. Both anti oxidants and polyphenols are known to have anti inflammatory and anti carcinogenic properties.
Ref: Medisch dossier, Sept. 2016; Wikipedia

Sighing is crucial to your lung function

We all sigh, whether its due to tiredness, relief or sadness, however scientists have pinpointed the brain cells that are responsible for sighing and found that a deep breath or sigh is crucial to lung function.
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The definition of a sigh is that it is a deep breath but not a voluntary one. It starts off as a normal breath but before you exhale you take a second breath on top of it. The average person sighs fairly frequently around every 5 mins and it turns out that our lungs do this in order to function properly.
Sighing is required in order to inflate the alveoli in the lungs, which have a tendency to collapse.  The alveoli need to be inflated in order to allow for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. Sighing pops them open again as a sigh brings in twice the volume of breath. If you didn’t sigh your alveoli would remain collapsed and eventually your lungs would fail.
Sighing is important for your lungs to function however too much sighing can be detrimental. Sighing can increase in response to psychological stresses such as depression, anxiety and mental illnesses. Also those with respiratory conditions like COPD may have difficulty in being able to sigh and therefore do not sigh enough and it effects their breathing even more.  The study aimed to gain a better understanding of what role the brain plays in sighing and breathing rhythm. This information could one day help those people who experience an increase or decrease in the ability to sigh.
It was found that there are 2 bundles of 200 neurons in the brain stem that are responsible for the production and release of a peptide that influences sighing and it the interaction between these two bundles and the increased presence of the peptide that can cause elevated sighing.
“Unlike a pacemaker that regulates only how fast we breathe, the brain’s breathing center also controls the type of breath we take,” explains Dr Krasnow from the study.
“It’s made up of small numbers of different kinds of neurons. Each functions like a button that turns on a different type of breath. One button programs regular breaths, another sighs, and the others could be for yawns, sniffs, coughs and maybe even laughs and cries.”
In the future it could be that the pathways that produce the peptide could be targeted with drugs to control sighing.
The underlying brain mechanisms of conscious sighing still remain unclear and needs further investigation. There seems to be a component of sighing that relates to an emotional state, as when you are stressed you sigh more.  It may be that the neurons in the brain area that process emotion are triggering the release of the sighing peptide.
It goes to show that good breathing technique is vitally important to those suffering with COPD and other respiratory conditions. Its not just about having supplemental oxygen but how you breathe it in.
 
References: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

PARENTAL SMOKING WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG CAN INCREASE RISK OF COPD IN LATER LIFE

A new study has shown how people whose mothers smoked when they were young have a significantly increased risk of breathing problems and developing COPD later on life. The pulmonary disease consists of a group of lung disorders including chronic bronchitis and emphysema that harmfully affects airflow and breathing, to the point where the patient needs artificial oxygen supplement in order to breathe normally. The study was based on 50 years of follow-up on 8,000 youngsters and their parents which included lung function tests and questionnaires about their smoking habits.
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There was no link between mothers who smoked less than 20 cigarettes a day, nor with whether the fathers smoked or not. However parents whose mothers smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day had nearly 3 times the risk of airflow obstruction in middle age compared to those who were not exposed as a child. Men seem more susceptible however and have nearly 4 times the risk of developing COPD compared to women who have 2 times the risk. Also interesting was that these figures are not impacted by the individual’s smoking habits as they grew up.
It suggests that mothers smoking is linked to a reduced lung function in offspring when they get to middle-age and that a reduction in lung function in childhood may predispose to having a lesser lung function in adulthood.
The efficiency of oxygen transfer to the blood is also more significantly impaired in smokers who had mothers that smoked heavily.
It was already known that smoking when pregnant resulted in the baby having smaller lungs and that your maximum achieved lung function usually developed by 25 years is lower if parents smoked. The lungs continue to grow for a few years after birth, the number of alveoli increases and smoking exposure limits this growth. This study shows that in addition to affecting growth, parental smoking also leads to lung disease in later life for the offspring.
In addition second-hand smoke causes irritation and inflammation in the airways and chronic scarring of the airways makes them stiffer and smaller contributing to the development of COPD. Children who had parents who smoked are also more likely to be frequent smokers later on in adulthood, which also significantly increases the risk of lung damage and developing respiratory diseases like COPD.
It is becoming even more important that pregnant women and mothers do not smoke around their children as it harms their lungs from the start and predisposes them to a greater risk of lung disease in the future.
References: www.foxnews.com and www.pulseheadlines.com

E-CIGS: Worth it?!

Smoking is the main factor in developing COPD and many patients struggle with giving up smoking. E-cigarettes could be the way to help COPD give up and to improve their lung function and slow down the progression of their disease. Using oxygen to help improve your breathing is highly beneficial in coping with the disease but if you are still smoking then it is counter-acting the good work of the oxygen and other medications prescribed for you. However what are the facts and are they actually safe?

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credit: www.vaping360.com

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices filled with liquid nicotine that is dissolved in a solution of water and propylene glycol. They can look very similar to ordinary cigarettes or other designs are less conspicuous. Often termed as ‘vaping’ you take a puff, the battery heats up the nicotine which creates a vapour than you then inhale, resulting in a sensation similar to smoking but without the smoke.
You can smoke them indoors, they are closer to a nicorette inhaler than tobacco and there are many studies supporting the opinion that they do alleviate the desire to smoke. For those people that use them in conjunction with tobacco in order to cut down on their tobacco intake, they found that they managed to reduce their tobacco intake and not suffer from any withdrawal symptoms. They have worked for people who constantly fail at ceasing smoking via other conventional methods. An online survey revealed that 96% said that E-Cigarettes helped them to quit smoking, 92% said that it made them smoke less and the majority stated that they helped to fight cravings, cope with withdrawal symptoms and avoid relapsing.
However many feel that they are not regulated enough and lack essential health warnings, proper labeling and instructions and disposal methods. Some have been found to leak which may expose you to a toxic exposure of nicotine.
A study found that e-cigarettes caused accused pulmonary effects after smoking it for 5 mins. Healthy non-smokers were reported to suffer airway flow resistance and oxidative stress. The authors however also suggested that if they were only being used as a bridge to stop smoking then the benefits would outweigh the risks.
The FDA states that “E-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans, and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe.” They also suggest that because e-cigarette manufacturers are not required to submit clinical study data to them, the public has no way of knowing “whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals are found in these products, or how much nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.” The FDA is also concerned that the marketing efforts of e-cigarettes may increase addiction to nicotine, especially in young people, encouraging them to experiment with real tobacco products.
It is important to stop smoking as a COPD patient, not only for your health but for your safety due to the use of supplemental oxygen and the dangers of smoking around oxygen tanks. However how you choose to quit is a matter of personal choice and everyone is different and will respond differently to the various methods that are available from nicotine gum/patches, quit smoking medications, support groups and educational materials as well as E-cigarettes. You have to decide what is safe and easiest for you and ask your doctor for help, advice and support.
 
References: www.jsonline.com and http://copd.about.com and www.dailymail.co.uk
Image Credit to www.vaping360.com

Asthma treatment could be aided by a sensor and app

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Millions of people suffer the daily struggle of controlling their asthma symptoms. Trying to avoid possible triggers and not knowing when the next attack may occur. Many of the attacks and hospitalizations are preventable if the patient understands their condition and avoids triggers and situations which can cause an asthma attack.
Scientists have developed ‘Wing’, a pocket-sized device that plugs into your smartphone and can detect early warning signs of an asthma attack, which the company states as being of ‘medical-grade’ accuracy. By blowing into the sensor it accurately measures lung function by calculating how much air you can exhale in one second and how fast you can exhale and stores and tracks this data.
Everyone’s respiratory condition is slightly different but by using the device consistently over time the program can learn about the individual’s condition and become personalised. It can allow the patient to visualise their lung function via a ‘stop-light’ zone system, detect environmental and medication triggers that can cause symptoms to flare-up and help the user be able to take preventative measures to stop an asthma attack from occurring.
Studies carried out with patients using oxygen have shown that where patients are monitoring their lung function better and improving it by avoiding flare-ups and attacks that can cause further damage, the oxygen they are consuming is then being more effectively utilized by their lungs and uptake and subsequent blood oxygen levels are significantly improved.
It can also help monitor other conditions such as cystic fibrosis and other COPD-related conditions. Other user groups such as athletes, singers and wind musicians can also make great use of the app. It can proactively help the user to understand and monitor their lung function and to work with a doctor to avoid triggers and find a treatment plan to keep you breathing at your best. Users have not only been able to avoid attacks but have also improved their lung function, breathing and quality of life.
Wing currently works on any iPhone 5 or later running iOS8 or later with an Android app currently in development and plugs in via the headphone jack port. It runs off of the smartphone battery so no need for an additional power supply.
The device is expected to gain its FDA approval by next year and be ready for purchase by August 2016. This will be an exciting new and easy aid for millions of people to use as part of their treatment plan to help combat various respiratory conditions but is also adaptable to be used by healthy individuals to monitor and improve their lung function.
References: http://lungdiseasenews.com and http://www.gizmag.com and http://www.bizjournals.com

Extreme Weather Can Trigger Your Asthma

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For most people, if their asthma is managed properly and under control then the weather should not have much of an effect, however for others extreme weather conditions can bring on symptoms and organisations suggest extra thought and care is taken before heading out in it.
Changes in temperature of the air within your airways can cause inflammation, for most this is not a problem as the nose controls humidity and temperature. With people who suffer from asthma, they tend to breathe more through the mouth and irritants, pollutants and pollen are more of a factor and many already have inflammed airways. The more severe the asthma, the more likely it is that the weather will affect them.
Common weather triggers include:
•    Cold air can cause constriction of airways.
•    Wind and rain-Rainfall can increase and stir up mould spores, and wind can blow around pollen and mould.
•    Heat-increased ozone from smog, exhaust fumes, and pollutants tend to be higher. Dry hot air can also trigger asthma.
•    Lightning-Thunderstorms, which can generate ozone, are now thought of as an asthma trigger.
•    Air pressure fluctuations-Barometric pressure can trigger sinus episodes and sinusitis is a common asthma trigger.
Cold Winter Air:
75% of asthma sufferers say that cold air can trigger asthmatic symptoms. The advice is to ensure that you are managing your asthma and taking any prescribed medication. Just as important is to be prepared. Check the forecast and make sure you carry your inhaler with you, wrap up warm and dry and wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth and try breathing more through your nose and it will help to dehumidify and warm the air up.
Remember that the difference between inside and outside temperature can be a factor so even going in and out of heated shops, or going from a nightclub or pub out into the cold air are all times when you need to look after yourself.
Exercise is very beneficial for people with asthma as it can help improve lung function and improve fitness but over three quarters of people with asthma have told Asthma UK that exercise in colder weather is a trigger for their condition. This is mainly due to the fact that during aerobic exercise you would inhale more of the cold air, breathing it in through your mouth (which means that it is not warmed or moistened by your nose) and breathe it more deeply into your lungs.
There are many things you can do to maintain your exercise regime but avoid the triggers.
•    Exercising indoors or at a gym or gym classes instead of venturing outside.
•    Warm up and warm down for 10-15 mins before and after outside exercise.
•    Dress appropriately with a scarf around your throat and nose.
•    If symptoms begin stop exercising immediately, take your inhaler and wait until you feel better before you resume.
•    Consider more moderate exercise that will reduce the need for such deep breaths like a power walk instead of a run or a more gentle bike ride.
When it is cold many avoid going outside to try and avoid the triggers, however spending more time indoors exposes you to more triggers within the home such as pet hair, smoke, dust mites, fireplaces etc. Many sufferers prepare themselves for this and from being out in the cold by having a back-up home oxygen supply to use when the cold weather has triggered off a bad asthma attack.
Thunderstorms:
More recently it has become apparent that thunderstorms can trigger serious asthma attacks, especially children and young adults, with large numbers of people needing to go to A&E.
It is not fully understood why this happens, but it is thought during a thunderstorm, the windy conditions cause high levels of pollen and mould spores to be swept up high into the air where the moisture breaks them into much smaller pieces. As the pollen and mould particles then settle back down, these smaller pieces of pollen and mould can be breathed into the smaller airways of the lungs where they irritate the airway and trigger asthma symptoms.
Not all thunderstorms trigger asthma, it seems to depend upon the time of year, the humidity, wind, air pressure and whether ozone levels are high.
The advice is to be aware of weather forecasts, try to avoid being caught outside in them and make sure you carry your inhaler.
References:  http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma and http://www.asthma.org.uk