Almost always caused by tobacco smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease kills so many people per year. Treatments can’t reverse the symptoms but can halt deterioration.
Some patients say they live with a constant feeling that they are breathing underwater, as if they were always drowning; others describe their breathlessness (even at rest), frequent coughing and never being able to exhale all the stale air in their lungs.
It is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which used to be known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but these are only the symptoms and description of changes in the lungs. Emphysema was identified as early as the late 17th century.
In the majority of cases, you yourself have to smoke to get COPD; much less often, victims are non-smokers exposed passively to another’s smoke.
Tobacco is almost the sole cause of COPD in the developed world; a much less common cause is intense and prolonged occupational exposure to workplace dusts, chemicals and fumes; in the Third World, the chronic disease can also result from indoor air pollution in the form of poorly ventilated cooking fires, often fueled by coal or biomass fuels such as wood and animal dung (making women the more common victims).
Of those who smoke, about a fifth will get COPD, but among those who have puffed away for decades, about half will develop it, and the disease will kill many of them. In many developed countries such as the US and the UK, between 80 percent to 95% of COPD patients are either current smokers or previously smoked. There is no cure, but kicking the dirty habit can slow the progression and maybe even improve the situation a bit but can’t cure it; there are medications that can also ease the symptoms, thus early detection is important.
Respiratory rehabilitation and surgery to remove non-functioning lung tissue can also help. Lung transplants can eliminate the problem, but only a few donor organs are available.
Most of the sufferers are over the age of 55, and a majority are male, but due to their smoking habits, women are quickly catching up. By 2020, it is expected that COPD will be the third most common cause of death in the world and the fifth in engendering disability. This trend is ironic, as the prevalence of heart disease, which is also related to smoking, is decreasing. It takes years of exposure to tobacco to produced COPD.
The airways and air sacs are elastic, so when you inhale, each air sac fills up with air like a little balloon.
When you exhale, these sacs deflate and the air exits. But in COPD, less air flows out because the airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality; the walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed; the airway walls become thick and inflamed; and the airways are clogged with mucus.
ALL COPD patients have both chronic bronchitis and emphysema; some have more of one than the other. The first involves a persistent cough, significant amounts of mucus, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest discomfort.
Many patients require oxygen therapy at least 16 hours – and sometimes 24 hours – a day. Most patients have oxygen concentrators (machines that extract oxygen from air) at home.
This does not cure but can help COPD sufferers every day when it comes to breathing to help make it less of a misery.
An injection that delivers oxygen directly into the bloodstream for patients who cannot breathe has been invented by scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital, according a report published in Science Translational Medicine. The authors explained that when patients suffer from an obstructed airway or acute lung failure, they urgently need oxygen to reach their blood, otherwise they have brain injury or suffer from cardiac arrest.
The researchers designed an injection filled with tiny, gas-filled microparticles that can be administered directly into the bloodstream, supplying it with much-needed oxygen.
The microparticles are made of a single layer of fatty molecules that surround a miniscule pocket of oxygen – they are placed in a liquid solution and injected into the patients.
John Kheir and team say that patients who are injected with this solution, may regain near-normal blood oxygen levels within seconds.
In animal experiments, the authors reported that they could beep the animals alive without breathing for 15 minutes, drastically reducing the incidence of organ injury and cardiac arrest (the heart stops completely).
The oxygen injection may buy the patient valuable time John Kheir explained that the microparticle solutions are easy to carry around, and could conveniently be utilized to keep people who cannot breathe alive, giving emergency personnel more time to get patients to a safe place where more sophisticated life-saving procedures can be carried out.
The authors say the microparticle solution injections could not be used for more than fifteen to thirty minutes, because they contain fluid that would overload the blood if used for any longer.
These are not blood substitutes, Kheir stressed. Blood substitutes carry oxygen, but are of limited use when the lungs are not working and cannot oxygenate them. These microparticles are specifically designed for people who cannot breathe.
After caring for a young girl who had severe pneumonia in 2006 and suffered severe brain injury because of extremely low blood-oxygen levels, Kheir starting looking into the idea of injectable oxygen.
The little girl died before the medical team could get her on a heart-lung machine.
It was several years before the team managed to get the microparticles safe for injection. Kheir said “The effort was truly multidisciplinary. It took chemical engineers, particle scientists and medical doctors to get the mix just right.”
They used a sonicator – a device which emits high-intensity sound waves to mix lipids and oxygen together. Oxygen gas gets trapped inside tiny particles, about two to four micrometers in size – too small to see with the naked eye. They found that a solution in which 70% of the volume consisted of oxygen was just right for human blood.
In previous studies in the early 1900s, scientists attempted to oxygenate blood with intravenous oxygen, but they failed. Sometimes they caused fatal gas embolisms.
reference: Copyright: Medical News Today
Oxygen therapy eyeglasses are designed for those individuals that require supplemental oxygen. Glasses allows you to “ditch” your nasal cannula, improve your quality of life, and feel better about yourself, while assuring that you are receiving the oxygen prescribed by your doctor. These attractive eyeglass frames not only hold your prescription lenses, they also deliver the oxygen you need in a way that others will hardly notice.
Oxygen glasses use a special tubing that is nearly invisible. This tubing attaches to your eyeglass frames at the ends of the side pieces. The oxygen travels through the frames to the bridge. At the bridge, it flows through inconspicuous nasal prongs into your nasal cavity. The nasal prongs sit back against your face along the sides of your nose.
COPD patients using oxygen glasses look better and more normal than patients using traditional nasal cannula. This boosts patients’ self esteem. Patients with oxygen glasses use their oxygen more consistently and have more active social lives. Oxygen glasses reduce the stigma associated with oxygen use. Oxygen glasses do not require tubing over the ears or across the face. This reduces skin irritation and sores. Traditional oxygen tubing gets very cold in winter weather. Oxygen glasses make it more pleasant to go out in colder temperatures.
xygen glasses come in full rim and half rim styles. Both styles feature lightweight frames in several sizes to fit different users. The full rim glasses come in gold-tone or brown, and the half rim glasses come in gunmetal, pink, blue and brown. Hinged models fold like traditional glasses and have replaceable rubber seals over the hinge to protect the oxygen flow. Non-hinged models do not fold, but are more durable than hinged models.
Oxygen glasses come with tubing, connectors, nasal prongs and the frames. Take the frames to your optician to have your personal prescription lenses inserted. Available accessories include clip-on shades to turn your oxygen glasses into sunglasses and complementary shoulder bags and backpacks for discreetly carrying your portable oxygen tank.
There are many companies that sell and market these products, take a look and you may be able to improve your breathing and see more clearly.
Traveling with medical oxygen? Make sure you take a look at OxygenWorldwide.
It’s time to set goals and new initiatives for yourself in the form of often-made, seldom-followed “New Year’s Resolutions”. We’ve developed some resolutions for people that use medical oxygen and who suffer from breathing conditions.
1. Stop Smoking – This resolution is a no-brainer. A popular resolution every January for smokers, quitting smoking is the easiest way to prevent COPD, and it is the best way to slow the progression of COPD if you already have it. If you have an oxygen tank, then quitting smoking should be even more of a no-brainer, but in case you needed another reason to quit: it is incredibly dangerous to have smoke around a medical oxygen tank.
2. Go on Spontaneous Trips – One of the greatest gifts that a portable oxygen concentrator offers is the potential to do something unplanned. Enjoy that freedom to pick up and go somewhere. Sometimes the easy choice is to stay at home, but you will be happy that you decided to spend an afternoon out, and those closest to you will be happy as well. If you require medical oxygen and aren’t yet enjoying the freedom of a portable oxygen concentrator, then 2014 is the year to start.
3. Connect – Connect with a group or organization of interest. There is great comfort, support, and fun to be had in knowing that you are not the only one living with medical oxygen, a breathing condition, or both. Whether it’s attending an event or making a donation, you’ll feel better after you get involved.
4. Eat better, Exercise better, Live better -This is a very popular resolution, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make it one of yours and follow through with it. You might think that since you have your oxygen concentrator, the rest is out of your control. But when it comes to diet & exercise, there are a number of things that you can do to make things easier on yourself. Eating better will not only improve your overall health, but by eating certain foods and avoiding others, you can make breathing easier for yourself.
What are your personal New Year’s Resolutions? Share with us which of these 5 resolutions you’ve decided to adopt, and any others that you might have.
Find out more about travelling with a portable oxygen concentrator www.oxygenworldwide.com
Travelling with oxygen
Holiday and travel.
Even if you have a condition which requires oxygen therapy, you may wish to go on holiday either within the UK or abroad. We have put together some key considerations for you if you wish to go on holiday. We can help with many of the details and offer advice. Please give us as much notice of your holiday requirements, however
it is best to request as early as possible.
Going on holiday in the UK
Before you book
→ Contact your planned holiday destination to gain permission for oxygen equipment to be delivered and stored in the accommodation.
→ If you are travelling by public transport – contact the transport company and inform them you will be carrying oxygen.
Remember to advise:
1. Start and end date of your holiday
2. Full postal address and telephone number of the holiday destination.
Holidays outside the UK
(including the Channel Islands)
Before booking a holiday outside the UK it is advisable to discuss your plans with your doctor or
healthcare professional – especially if you are flying. During a flight, the high altitudes will cause the
oxygen concentration levels in the air in the cabin to fall. People without the need for supplementaryBefore you book your flight find out the following information:
→ What the airline’s policy is on oxygen. Taking oxygen on a plane can be easy and free, or
difficult and expensive. Some airlines will not allow oxygen on the plane at all, it depends on the airline. You must find out before you book a ticket. This may also affect your choice of destination or carrier.
→ The exact length of the flight, and whether delays are likely.
→ The facilities available at both airports. This includes assistance required with luggage, boarding the aircraft, wheelchair requirements and whether oxygen is available. If the holiday involves a long-haul flight, you should find out if time will be spent at a third airport for refuelling and how oxygen will be supplied there if required. With the exception of oxygen provision, these services will usually be free.
→ How you confirm your fitness to fly. Some airlines let you travel without a letter from your doctor, while others ask you to fill in a special medical form, verified either by your own GP or by the airline’s medical staff. Most ask for a fitness to fly certificate, obtained from your doctor.
Traveling with oxygen has become much easier with the development of portable oxygen concentrators (POCs). These devices run on a battery pack, can be recharged, plugged into the wall or a cigarette lighter in a car, and can be taken on airplanes.
Commercial airlines must provide a cabin pressure altitude of no more than 8,000 feet of altitude. Your pulmonologist can determine if air travel is safe for you. Your pulmonologist may order an altitude simulation test to help determine your ability to fly safely at this cabin pressure.
If you are going to need oxygen in flight, you must make arrangements with the airline well ahead of time. You can use either the on-board oxygen supply.
The airline will require a physician’s statement. The airlines generally have their own form for the doctor to complete.
Some tips for air travel with POCs:
- Start making arrangements with the airline well ahead of time to find out which POC is allowed. Many airlines list accepted manufacturers and brands on their websites.
- Allow plenty of extra time for check-in.
- Carry several extra battery packs. FAA regulations require enough battery time to cover 150 percent of the flight time.
- POCs and battery packs can be rented for travel, along with your POC.
- Carry an extra three-way plug for recharging your POC in the airport. People often need to recharge their electronic equipment in the airport during layovers, and this will help assure that you will be able to recharge yours.
- POCs are exempt from the carry-on count.
- Carry a prescription for oxygen, signed by your doctor.
For more information about POCs and air travel, go to www.oxygenworldwide.com
Oxygen was known to be the only element that supports respiration as early as 1800 and was first used in the medical field in 1810. However, it took about 150 years for the gas to be used throughout medicine. In the early to mid 20th century oxygen therapy became rational and scientific, and today modern medicine could not be practiced without the support that oxygen supplies.
Medical oxygen is used to:
- provide a basis for virtually all modern anaesthetic techniques
- restore tissue oxygen tension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions such as COPD, cyanosis, shock, severe hemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac/respiratory arrest
- aid resuscitation
- provide life support for artificially ventilated patients
- reduce incidence of surgical wound infection
- aid cardiovascular stability
Read our useful Wiki guide for all the information and explanations to do with travelling with medical oxygen with OxygenWorldwide.
Jan 8, 2013, 2:38pm EST UPDATED: Jan 9, 2013, 3:52pm EST
AirSep exec wins National Medal of Technology and Innovation
Norman McCombs, a University at Buffaloalumnus and executive at Amherst-basedAirSep Corp., has been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the U.S. government’s highest honor for technological achievement.
McCombs, who lives in Tonawanda, “developed an oxygen production system that spawned a billion dollar industry and helped ease the pain of millions suffering from lung diseases,” according to a release issued by UB. He is AirSep’s senior vice president of research and development.
President Obama will present the medal to McCombs and other award winners at a Feb. 1 ceremony at the White House.
The award is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’sPatent and Trademark Office and recognizes those “who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the nation’s technological workforce,” according to a White House statement.
McCombs is the third person with UB ties to receive the medal. Former engineering professor Esther Takeuchi was honored in 2007 for developing a battery used to power implantable cardiac defibrillators. Wilson Greatbatch, founder of Greatbatch Inc. and a UB alumnus and faculty member, received the award in 1990.
McCombs developed a method of separating gases that produces oxygen, leading to a device called an oxygen concentrator, which is used to treat people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There are currently about 1.2 million oxygen concentrators in the U.S. alone, a more than $2 billion industry.
Dan Miner is Business First’s enterprise reporter. He also covers education and public companies.