With World COPD just passed it is still an important month to continue raising awareness of COPD.
The most important action you can take it taking care of yourself as you main goal each day. There are some simple day to day changes you can make to help manage this respiratory illness to help improve day to day life and management.
Exercise – Now not everyone can or wants to exercise but walking and keep moving helps with breathing plus makes you healthier at the same time. It is important to take that morning stroll, walk to the shops or just meet friends and walk around parks and see the outside.
Sleep – Everyone needs a good nights sleep but sleeping well each evening will help you get up for that walk each morning and start the day right. Lack of sleep will make you feel lethargic and not want to do anything.
Look after yourself – with ‘you’ being the number one priority you must make sure you are looking after your mental health as well as your physical. Anxiety will decrease and also talking to others will help you feel better and express your feelings with other people.
For those who need medical oxygen to improve their breathing take a look at our resources and other articles over on our website here.
Although there are many different types of asthma, there are many patterns to which ones but they are all to do with inflammination of the airways. There are many types of asthma but mainly the follwoing ones listed here:
Allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis
Asthma with fixed airflow obstruction
Nighttime (Nocturnal) asthma
Asthma with obesity
Asthma is a long term disese and even though there may be different types based on lung function and symptoms it can be controlled.
Researchers have discovered that one in five people who suffer from chronic lung and respiratory conditions, such as COPD, have an iron deficiency. This may be causing worse symptoms for patients. About three million people in the UK have COPD and one dies every 20 minutes from the condition in England. People normally associate iron deficiency with anaemia but in fact iron is essential for many other processes in the human body and not just for making red blood cells.
Those with iron deficiency have much lower levels of oxygen in their blood, have greater difficulty exercising, require more supplemental oxygen therapy, suffer more frequent flare-ups and a worsening of shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
The Oxford study revealed a surprisingly big difference in oxygen levels between those patients with low iron and those with normal iron levels. “The amount of oxygen in the blood is a strong predictor of life expectancy in COPD, so these findings are potentially very significant for patients.”
Currently smoking cessation and treatments that target the air passages in the lungs are the main treatments for COPD patients. However some patients are still left with troubling symptoms that interfere with their daily lives and lead to hospital admission. Iron deficiency works in multiple ways to worsen the impact of COPD, hopefully establishing a new treatment regime with iron could improve things for these patients.
Excessive iron build-up in the lungs could be a major cause of COPD. A gene has been found to make certain individuals more susceptible to the lung disease. This gene regulates iron uptake in cells and is called IRP2. In mice those that lacked the gene remained healthy and those with the gene were symptomatic for COPD. A drug given to these mice however prevented additional lung damage and even reversed COPD’s effects.
This study goes some way to prove that people may have a genetic predisposition to developing COPD. If this gene is expressed then there is an excessive build-up of iron in the cells, particularly in the mitochondria. Iron is needed by the cell but in a delicate balance and too much can cause haemochromatosis and leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and they cannot utilise oxygen effectively and cannot produce energy for the cell. This leads to inflammation and damage to the lung’s air sacs and cells in the airways. When mice in the study were given a drug ‘DFP’ this drug binds to excess iron and relocates it to other cells in the body that actually need it and in doing so prevented and reversed the lung inflammation. This drug is already approved to treat thalassaemia and therefore could quickly be incorporated into a new treatment regime for COPD patients.
Therefore too much iron could be the cause of COPD and too little iron could worsen the symptoms. If further studies continue to prove these findings then it could not be too long before COPD could become a more treatable and reversible condition.
References: http://weill.cornell.edu and www.telegraph.co.uk
Meldonium (Mildronate) is a drug manufactured in Latvia since the 1980’s where it is legal, however the FDA has not approved it for use in the US.
It is an ‘anti-ischemic’ drug, which means it is used to treat inadequate blood-flow to the organs, especially the heart. It is primarily used to treat patients with heart conditions that affects the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. It helps to protect against tissue damage from angina attacks, chronic heart failure and disorders of brain circulation.
Due to its ability to increase oxygen uptake it is also beneficial to healthy individuals and athletes as it increases mental function and physical capacity and stamina. This is why it was banned by the anti-doping authorities at the beginning of the year and caught out a number of athletes who have tested positive, such as the tennis player Maria Sharapova.
Meldonium reduces the amount of oxygen that is needed to keep tissues alive by changing the way the muscle cells metabolize substances in the blood. It alters the mitochondria to utilize carbohydrates for energy instead of fatty acids, a process which requires less oxygen to carry out. Therefore in people with less oxygen in their blood they can still produce energy in the cells and the tissue and organs remain healthy. In athletes this reduction for the need of oxygen can enhance their performance. During exercise our bodies use oxygen at a faster rate than the lungs can replace it but this drug can reduce the amount of oxygen being used up allowing athletes to work out for longer. Processing carbohydrates instead of fatty acids also means that there is less lactate and urea produced, which would normally cause stiffness and pain in the muscles after a workout and so an athlete can workout out for longer and more frequently. Due to its ability to allow an athlete to work out more efficiently and for longer by altering the way the cells metabolize substances for energy, and diminishing the need for oxygen it has been considered as an unfair advantage over other athletes and has been banned.
The drug however has other benefits and in combination with other drugs can help treat diabetes as it reduces the amount of glucose in the blood due to making the cells process carbohydrates which contain glucose molecules. It can also improve mood and motor functions in patients with neurological disorders and brain circulatory problems as well as enhancing cognitive ability and reducing dementia.
The drug is being considered as a possible addition to the treatment plan for patients suffering from respiratory conditions such as COPD. These patients can suffer from very low oxygen levels in their blood and be on supplemental oxygen therapy to try and combat this and they feel very weak and tired due to the low oxygen. Meldonium could allow the body to allocate less oxygen to the cells for energy metabolism and redirect it elsewhere where it is also needed. Patients would benefit from increased oxygen levels in their blood and feeling less fatigued which could help curb the progression of the disease. These patients are advised to stay fit and healthy and to exercise as much as possible. With the benefits seen with this drug being used by athletes then the same could apply to these patients and allow them to exercise for longer, which would also benefit their health. References: www.techinsider.io and http://qz.com
It’s a depressing thought but autumn is just around the corner and with a change in weather there comes the increased chance of catching a cold. If you have COPD or emphysema then you probably already know how miserable it feels when you catch a cold as breathing is already a strain. Not only does catching a cold worsen your ability to breathe, but it also increases your chance of catching a more serious respiratory tract infection.
A cold is a viral respiratory illness, which normally affects your nose and throat but can affect your airways as well. A COPD patient already suffers from damaged airways and a cold will hinder your breathing further and cause other changes:
• An increase in phlegm
• An increase in the thickness or stickiness of the phlegm
• A change in phlegm colour to yellow or green
• The presence of blood in the phlegm
• An increase in the severity of shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing
• A general feeling of ill health
• Difficulty sleeping
• Increased fatigue
Respiratory infections are responsible for 70% of cases where a patient’s COPD status has worsened. Catching a cold can open you up to a greater risk of developing more severe respiratory infections. Pneumonia is a common infection in COPD patients as the airways are obstructed and the body cannot cough up infected mucus.
Sometimes patients will require hospitalisation due to the worsening of their symptoms from a respiratory infection. It is important to always inform your doctor if your cold symptoms get worse and not wait until you have more serious breathing problems.
If you catch a cold then ensure you stay on your prescribed COPD medications and then decide, with your doctor, what else to take to treat the cold symptoms.
You might treat the body aches and fever associated with a cold with ibuprofen. Although antihistamines can be helpful if you have mild allergy symptoms, you should avoid them if you constantly have thick mucus; they may make it more difficult for you to cough up the phlegm.
Most over-the-counter cold remedies are generally safe for people with emphysema and chronic bronchitis. However, decongestants raise blood pressure and some of the drugs used to treat emphysema and chronic bronchitis can also increase your heart rate. Use cold remedies with caution, especially if you have high blood pressure or other heart issues in addition to COPD. Again, ask your doctor about medications for cold symptoms.
Patients who use supplemental oxygen should ensure their equipment is kept hygienically clean, especially when friends/family/carers come round who may have a cold or be the carrier of the cold virus. Some patients feel safer using their mask rather than their nasal cannula as it covers their nose and mouth to reduce the chance of breathing in germs. If you are trying to keep active then some use their masks and portable concentrators when going outside or when among crowds, not only to support breathing function but to protect from potential viral germs. Some patients also find that if they do feel cold symptoms coming on then using oxygen when they sleep overnight and using it more during the day helps prevent symptoms from worsening.
The best way to treat a cold is to prevent one, here are some general tips to help you avoid catching a cold:
• Wash your hands regularly.
• Avoid crowds during cold and flu season.
• Avoid cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
• Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
• Stop smoking.
• Make sure you are using your inhalers correctly.
In the past patients diagnosed with respiratory conditions requiring oxygen therapy faced the problems associated with traditional canister oxygen technology. Bulky heavy equipment that resulted in many losing their mobility and independence. Now with portable oxygen concentrators this is becoming a thing of the past as these light weight pieces of equipment mean that patients can maintain their lifestyles and still keep active. There are still aspects of having to wear and use oxygen for long periods of time that can make patients feel conspicuous, uncomfortable, restricted or cause secondary health ailments. Technology is moving quickly and devices are becoming smaller, lighter and customisable. There are now products available to aid with the smaller inconveniences to help improve patient’s quality of life even more. These may not be available from your normal supplier via the NHS but are worth the small purchase cost if it aids in improving your mobility, sleep quality and health. Many private oxygen supply companies stock these or other accessories that may suit your own personal needs or many customers purchase online. Oximeters:
You can purchase finger pulse oximeters that are small units that check your heart rate and oxygen saturation at any time, at your own convenience. This way you can check that your oxygen levels are correct and discover early if there is a problem and seek to resolve it before it causes any major health problems. There are also ones specifically designed for children and carry cases are available for them. Drops in oxygen saturation could be an indication of faulty equipment or of a worsening health condition. Being able to monitor and record your changing oxygen saturation levels is not only more convenient than having to wait for a GP appointment to check your levels but it could also help your GP from understanding your oxygen requirements more specifically. Sleep Face Pads:
Many find sleeping at night with masks and tubes very difficult with the tubes rubbing their skin and the feeling of discomfort preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep. There are Sleep Comfort Pads available that are clear in colour so as not to make you feel conspicuous. They are designed to act as a comfort barrier between the mask and your skin to decrease air leaks, improve the comfort of the mask or nasal cannula and are hypoallergenic to reduce irritation. Oxygen Carry Bags:
In order to aid with your mobility and getting out and about with your oxygen equipment there are bags specifically designed for carrying oxygen equipment and supplies. They allow easy, hands free transport of your oxygen tank or concentrator with a padded single shoulder strap for easy on and off. It carries the equipment on the centre of your back for comfort and is padded and insulated to protect your equipment. They can also come with a padded support waistband that can be converted for you to be able to go walking, golfing, biking, gardening or any hands free activity to keep you active and mobile. With mesh to allow the tank to breathe or the concentrator to have air flow around the equipment and some have a vehicle headrest carrier strap to ensure it remains upright whilst you drive. Medical Oxygen Glasses:
Wearing a nasal cannula can feel odd and uncomfortable enough without the additional hassle of wearing prescription glasses. Many people feel self conscious and feel like there are too many things on their face. With the tubing normally going from the nose and out over the ears many patients find it awkward to do their hair or long hair becomes tangled with the tubing or the tubing can become caught on things. Some patients find it too much hassle and either stay at home or remove the tubing when they go out which can have a detrimental effect on your health if you’re not using your oxygen supply when you should be.
These glasses are specially designed for oxygen therapy users and the tubing runs from the nose up to the glasses and is virtually invisible and also out of the way. You can choose the frames that suit you and either have clear or prescription lenses. The tubing follows the frame of the glasses and the tubing is near invisible and doesn’t go across your face making wearing your cannula more comfortable and less conspicuous.
These are just a few of the accessories that are out there, as well as different tubing and prongs that may suit you better. They’re designed to improve oxygen therapy users’ quality of life as if the user feels more comfortable, suffers from less irritation, feels more able to have an active social life and do more activities whilst still using their oxygen then their overall health, well-being and quality of life will be much improved.
References: http://oxyview.com.dnnmax.com and http://www.gbukhealthcare.com and http://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com
Oxygen is fundamental to our health but many of us do not realise just how crucial it is. Oxygen deficiency can affect every aspect of our health and be a root cause of almost every medical ailment.
Oxygen deficiency can generically cause:
• overall body weakness
• circulation problems
• poor digestion
• muscle aches and pains
• memory loss
• irrational behaviour
• lung problems
• increased unhealthy bacteria, germs, viruses and parasites
• Any chronic/long term disease
A shortage of oxygen has been linked to every illness from heart conditions, cancer, digestion and respiratory conditions to inflamed, swollen and aching joints, sinus problems, yeast infections and sexual dysfunction. When our cells lack oxygen they weaken and die, therefore without oxygen, nothing works very well or at all.
It is the main energy source for our brains to function properly and it calms the mind and stabilizes the nervous system. Without oxygen we cannot absorb important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients our body needs. Oxygen depletion also weakens our immune system, which leads to viral infections, damaged cells, growths, inflamed joints, serious heart and circulatory problems, toxic build-up in the blood and premature aging. Low oxygen levels allow damaged cells to multiply incorrectly or unnecessarily and form growths in our bodies. Oxygen aids in converting nutrients into energy, which also helps eliminate toxins and waste.
Your lungs will deteriorate 9-25% per decade (Framingham study) unless you do something to maintain them, which is why exercise is so important. However excessive stress in exercising can actually cause breathing blocks that results in inadequate levels of oxygen due to a build-up of waste products in the alveoli.
As our cells grow older they lose their ability to carry oxygen. As the liver ages it robs increasing amounts of oxygen reserves for detoxification which often leaves the other body systems with an oxygen shortage. Our brains need oxygen the most so when the body is in short supply our brains suffer the consequences.
The greatest contributor to oxygen deficiency is the deterioration of our breathing system. The next threat is a lack of exercise and nutrition, and then the environment.
Oxygen is involved in almost every bodily process so without it these processes fail and lead to problems with our health. Keeping our lungs healthy, eating the right food, exercising to keep our bodily systems functioning optimally and not breathing in pollution all helps to maintain the maximum oxygen levels.
It has also been discovered that “insufficient oxygen in our cells causes pain to be experienced more acutely than when oxygen supplies are ample” Dr. Samuel C. West.
There are multiple benefits of home oxygen therapy. Not only will it ease respiratory problems but it will help to ease the pain suffered by many and also help to keep your body working more efficiently and healthily, which can aid in improving your medical condition.