Oxygen Therapy and Smoking Does Not Mix

Cigarettes on their own are the leading cause of house fires, but add to this the risk of oxygen being stored in the home and the danger dramatically increases.

Over the last few years there have been a staggering number of reports of people on home oxygen therapy being admitted to hospital with facial burns, eyebrows and hair burned off, death, smoke inhalation injuries and fire damage to their homes in the thousands of pounds. These occurred because they or a friend/family member were smoking whilst the patient’s oxygen equipment was in use.
However, do not interpret this to mean that oxygen therapy is something to be afraid of, it just needs to be respected.

General Advice when using oxygen equipment:
•    If you’re on oxygen, DO NOT smoke.
•    If you live with or visit someone on oxygen, DO NOT smoke around them.
•    Stay away from open flames, sparks, and gas (including gas stoves).
•    Turn the oxygen off while not in use.
•    Avoid petroleum-based products.
•    Do not use aerosol sprays nearby.
•    Comply with all safety instructions provided by your home medical equipment company.
•    Keep your oxygen concentrator in a well-ventilated area.
•    Never allow the tubing, cannula, or mask to be covered, as it can result in a build-up of concentrated oxygen.
•    Keep the name and number of your home medical equipment provider in a prominent spot for reference.
•    Post a sign stating ‘DANGER: No Smoking-Oxygen in Use’ for the benefit of engineers or visitors.

There are also health risks associated with smoking while on oxygen therapy. Smoking is the most common cause of many medical conditions associated with the requirement of oxygen therapy. Smoking got you here therefore it is highly recommended that you put as much effort as possible into trying to give up this harmful addiction, or to at least cut down. Smoking more will just continue to damage your lungs and increase the deterioration of your respiratory capability and make you increasingly more dependent upon supplemental oxygen. Using supplemental oxygen can improve your health and improve your medical condition but if you smoke you are hampering the possible medical benefits of the treatment.
There should be a respectful balance between your own lifestyle choices, your medical needs and the safety of yourself and others around you. Be aware of the dangers and make sure you take all possible safety precautions.

References: http://lambertshc.com and http://scienceblogs.com


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.
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

Stopping smoking will not only help your lungs, but also your brain!

For COPD patients and others that use supplemental oxygen to help them to breathe, quitting smoking is hugely important to stop further lung damage, help slow the disease down and reduces the danger of smoking near oxygen cylinders. 2016 is going to be the year to stop smoking as part of a new campaign to try and combat lung disease. However if you stop smoking it is not only your lungs that you will help but your brain will benefit too.
It’s never too late to quit, even if you’re in your 70’s, there is still a chance for a noticeable recovery. For light smokers the damage can be reversed in a few weeks and for heavier long-term smokers it may take anywhere up to 25years for full recovery but every little helps.
The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for memory, attention, awareness and language naturally thins with age but this process is hugely accelerated by smoking. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that even though smoking thins the outer layer of the brain and increases the risk of memory problems and dementia, it is reversible. The damage that cigarettes cause to the brain can start reversing as soon as you give up the habit. Even when quitting later in life there is still a chance of reversing the harmful damage done to your brain.
In the study the thickness of the cerebral cortex was measured and important thinking skills were tested on smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers. Those who had never smoked tended to have a thicker cortex than the smokers but ex-smokers also had a thicker cortex than those who had continued with the habit. Also more importantly those who had kicked the habit some time ago seemed to have a thicker cortex than more recent quitters, showing that there had been continuous recovery.
Professor James Goodwin from AgeUK talks about how we all know that smoking is bad for our heart and lungs but it is also important that we know it is also bad for our brain. Avoiding smoking offers the best protection against the risk of brain decline, dementia and other cognitive disease but this study gives smokers a new hope that by quitting smoking even later in life can still allow our bodies to start to heal itself.
“With research suggesting that older people’s fear of developing dementia outweighs that of cancer, it is important we inform people about the simple steps they can take to safeguard against this horrible and distressing disease.”
COPD patients already have many health issues related to their condition but the fear of cancer and dementia adding to them is concerning for patients. Knowing that by quitting smoking you can help to reverse damage to your brain, on top of preventing further damage to your heart and lungs, reduce the risk of combustion with oxygen cylinders and concentrators and halting progression of the respiratory disease you’re suffering from is a huge incentive for people to encourage them to give up smoking.
References: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

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?

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


A recent study has shown that if you suffer from a lung condition such as COPD then you are at a much higher risk to suffer from falls, especially if have other medical conditions, have already taken a tumble or have a long history of smoking.

Past research has already linked COPD to an increased risk of imbalance, muscle weakness, thinning bones and blackouts. COPD alone accounts for 5% deaths globally and falls are also a major public health problem, accounting for more unintended deaths and injuries each year than any other cause (except traffic accidents).
Most falls in the study occurred indoors, often when people were standing and using their upper body at the same time, with loss of balance the most commonly reported cause. It was found that people had more than twice the risk of falling if they suffered from additional medical problems and more than triple if they already had a fall in the previous year. The findings add to growing body of evidence highlighting the increased fall risk faced by COPD patients.
In another study it was also noted that those patients who used supplemental oxygen regularly were at a reduced risk of falls. This is probably due to the fact that oxygen levels are increased in the blood stream due to the use of supplemental oxygen and that the problems such as weakness and imbalance are reduced.
Just one fall especially in the more elderly of patients can result in anything from a bruise to a hip replacement and from an unnecessary trip to the GP or a long-term stay in hospital. Having an injury when you have difficulty breathing only adds to the severity of the injury and the recovery process and could hamper your progress and increase the severity of your condition and lessen your quality of life. COPD patients need to be aware of their increased risk of falling and injuring themselves and take precautions. If you are prescribed oxygen then ensure you use it as regularly as required and as prescribed. There are workouts designed to help improve balance and stability which can help to minimize the risk. Adjust your home and activities to reduce the likelihood of a fall; not using stairs as often, moving objects to lower heights etc.

References: http://www.reuters.co

Does gender have an impact on severity of COPD?

Chronic Pulmonary Disease is a leading cause of death around the world. However mortality rates for women are higher than for men, who’s mortality rate has actually dropped between 1999 and 2006. The mortality rate for women however did not change and by 2000 women exceeded male mortality rates. This has prompted a shift in the perception that was once held that COPD was a ‘male disease’ and to look into why women are at a significant risk of death from COPD compared to men.

The primary risk factor for CPD is tobacco smoking. There is new evidence suggesting that the two genders differ in their susceptibility to the effects of smoking.
There may be a gender-specific genetic predisposition for lung damage, also women have smaller airways and therefore smoking the same amount of tobacco as men can result in proportionally more lung damage. Exposure to second-hand smoke, choice of cigarette brands and inhalation methods all may contribute to these gender differences. The number of women smoking also has increased dramatically over the last few decades.
These gender differences may start early in life and may be influenced by sex hormones. A study showed that young girls exposed to pollution and tobacco smoke showed greater lung reduction than the boys.
Smoking women are typically younger when they receive their COPD diagnosis and also the annual progression of COPD is more rapid in female smokers than in male smokers, even if they smoked for fewer years and smoked less than their male counterparts.
However 15% COPD diagnoses are non-smokers and of this group 80% are non-smokers suggesting that it is not just tobacco but other risk factors that contributes to a higher prevalence of COPD in women compared to men. Occupational exposures to dusts, coal and metallic fumes in the agricultural and industrial workplaces are a huge risk factor and over the last few decades more women have entered into these traditionally male occupations. In less-developed countries women are more likely to be employed in the textile, brass-ware, ceramics and glassware industries where there is a risk of exposure to damaging agents.
There is also a difference in the clinical symptoms experienced between the genders. Men report more sputum production and quality of life is lower for women who tend to suffer with higher rates of anxiety and depression and suffer more from shortness of breath. Men demonstrate higher rates of diabetes, sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease whereas women tend to develop osteoporosis and bowel disease. Women also tend to suffer more with decreased BMI and higher airway obstruction readings and a poorer resulting prognosis. Women are also more likely than men to be diagnosed late, which also impacts upon their health and outlook if treatment is started later after more lung damage has occurred.
Upon diagnosis women tend to be younger than men and examination of their lung tissue shows that women in fact had more airway problems at that point, than men. This may explain why women experience more breathlessness and more of a decreased capacity to exercise than men.
These findings suggest that gender must be considered in future COPD studies and that gender is highly important in the treatment of COPD in the future. Gender-specific treatments may need to be developed as well as trying to diagnose women at an earlier point in their lung deterioration to increase survival rates for women.

References: http://www.webmd.com and http://www.medpagetoday.com

The link between diabetes and COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease and Diabetes Mellitus are both common and under-diagnosed diseases. COPD is considered as a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes due to inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance and weight gain. On the other hand Diabetes may act as an independent factor as it negatively impacts upon pulmonary structure and function. It also results in an increased risk of infection and worsened COPD outcomes. Recognising the inter-relations between these two diseases can help to improve the outcome and medical control for both conditions.

Patients with COPD have an increased risk of developing Diabetes. Not only directly but indirectly as COPD patients often suffer from other medical conditions like elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, which are linked to diabetes. The combination of these medical problems is often referred to as ‘metabolic syndrome’.
The specific pathology as to why COPD patients are at a high risk of developing diabetes is unclear, but it is thought that it is due to inflammation associated with lung disease and the use of corticosteroids.
Elevated levels of glucose are associated with abnormal lung function. Those with type 1 diabetes experience a 20% decline in lung function and it may contribute to worsening symptoms in COPD patients.
Diabetes can affect the lungs in different ways. It has been associated with decreased lung volume, reduced lung expiration volumes and reduction in the ability of the lung tissue to diffuse oxygen. It is thought that glucose affects the diaphragm, breathing muscles and nerves in the lungs.
Diabetes is also associated with abnormal brain control of breathing pattern and can cause sleep-breathing disorders. Studies show that COPD patients with diabetes have an accelerated decline in lung function compared to those without diabetes and uncontrolled diabetes in COPD patients result in increased exacerbations, more frequent and longer hospitals stays and risk of death.
The adverse affects of diabetes on lung function appears to be stronger among people who smoke tobacco, and this group of people also have the highest risk of developing COPD.
Both conditions have also been linked to a phenomenon called oxidative stress, in which highly energized compounds called reactive oxygen species, which react strongly with other molecules, damage tissue. In the case of COPD, oxidative stress injures the airway and promotes inflammation in the lungs, and oxidative stress has been implicated as an underlying cause of the insulin resistance seen in Type 2 diabetes.
Both conditions can occur independently of each other but can also occur due to the presence of the other one. Both diseases also have a negative impact upon the state of the other. COPD will cause worsening of Diabetes and vice-versa. Therefore adequate diabetic control is key for patients with COPD to prevent worsening of their condition, as there is no cure for COPD and prevention is critical.
Due to the huge overlap between these conditions if you have been diagnosed with either condition you should ask your GP to check for the other. If you have diabetes and have a history of smoking you are at a high risk for developing COPD and like-wise if you have COPD make sure you are checked for diabetes especially if you have a family history of diabetes.

References: www.cardiab.com and blog.copdfoundation.org and www.diabetesselfmanagement.com

The dilema of a smoker with COPD

Smoking is a main contributing factor to developing COPD and there has been an ongoing debate as to whether Oxygen therapy should be prescribed to patients who are still smoking.
The reasons that oxygen might not be allowed are because in the presence of oxygen, things (like oxygen tubing, facial hair, clothing) are much more flammable and patients have set fire to their heads resulting in serious burns and occasionally even death.
Oxygen therapy is delivered through plastic tubes that go up the patients’ nostrils. Quite a lot of oxygen comes out of the nostrils and effectively bathes the face, head and clothing. Patients have set fire to themselves when not smoking, for example lighting stoves, and one patient was killed when an e-cigarette exploded.
The tubes that the oxygen goes through are made of PVC which is quite flammable and releases highly flammable vinyl chloride gas when it burns.
There is no safe way to smoke when using home oxygen. Until patients quit, they can practice safer smoking. Should an individual need to smoke, it’s important to first turn off the tank, and wait 10 full minutes before going outside to smoke. This practice should decrease the amount of oxygen in the home and on the person. The best way for patients to protect themselves, their families, neighbours, and emergency responders is to quit smoking.
Oxygen is a fundamental requirement for life and therefore taking away oxygen from a patient who will die without it is difficult and perhaps immoral, bringing into consideration other aspects of smoking.
Smokers quite often blame themselves for developing an illness where they are a burden on their families and often feel anxious, depressed and guilty. Oxygen therapy provides relief from some of the anxiety, but sadly effective psychological support is often lacking and oxygen is a kind of substitute.
The benefits from reducing smoking, such as fewer deaths and diseases of the heart and lungs can be discounted by 0% to offset the loss in pleasure that smokers suffer when they quit.  For many smokers the fear of losing that pleasure from smoking and perhaps enjoying life a lot less is justifiable in perhaps dying sooner.
Patients are told not to smoke, but recent surveys show the percentage of home oxygen users still smoking to be between 14 and 51%. The use of a less combustible material for cannula tubing and a more efficient oxygen delivery system may reduce the incidence of such burns. Another suggestion would be labelling the oxygen cylinders with large stickers emphasizing the danger of smoking in the presence of oxygen.
In summary there are grave risks that COPD patients take if they smoke on oxygen therapy, such as a detrimental effect on health and disease progression and the risk of burns to themselves and others.  However many find that oxygen therapy and the continuation of smoking improves their quality of life, both from the benefits of oxygen therapy and the pleasure obtained from smoking. There is a debate as to whether the importance of a patient’s choice to choose how they live and die is outweighed by the possible risks and dangers to themselves and others.
References: http://abetternhs.wordpress.com

Common Causes of COPD

The 5 most common causes of developing COPD are below:

1.    Cigarette smoke. This is by the far the most common reason people get COPD. You can get it from any tobacco products, like cigar and pipe smoke, especially if you breathe in the smoke.  Smoking is the main cause of COPD and is thought to be responsible for around 90% of cases. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and permanently damaged by smoking and this damage cannot be reversed. Up to 25% of smokers develop COPD.
2.    Passive smoking. Even if you don’t smoke yourself, just by breathing in second-hand smoke can cause damage to your lungs.
3.    Air pollution. You can get COPD from breathing in chemical fumes, dust, air pollution or toxic substances at work.
4.    Your genes. About 3 in 100 people with COPD have a defect in their DNA. This defect is called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency or AAT deficiency. Your lungs don’t have enough of a protein needed to protect them from damage, which can lead to severe COPD. The symptoms normally show before you’re 35 years old. A research study has shown that smokers who have brothers and sisters with severe COPD are at greater risk of developing the condition than smokers who do not.
5.    Asthma. If you don’t treat your asthma, over time you can get lifetime damage and it can develop into COPD.
Some of these risk factors can be avoided by quitting smoking, reducing the amount of pollution we breathe and if we have respiratory problems ensure we medicate and treat them properly. These steps will help to prevent damage to our lungs and help to prevent the development of COPD. Obviously the genetic factor cannot be avoided but only 1% of COPD sufferers have the genetic defect.
References: www.webmd.com and /www.nhs.uk

Playing with fire and oxygen

There are so many articles saying do not smoke when using medical oxygen and the below article shows exactly why experts advise you not to smoke:

Woman left fighting for life after sparking huge explosion by lighting a cigarette while wearing an oxygen mask

  • The 47-year-old was lighting up at home at 7.30am in the morning
  • The flame set light to oxygen coming from her medical mask
  • She is in intensive care with facial burns after being taken to hospital

The unnamed woman tried to light her cigarette too close to her medical oxygen apparatusA woman is fighting for her life after she lit a cigarette while wearing an oxygen mask, sparking an explosion.
The incident happened as the unnamed 47-year-old attempted to light up at her home in Heywood, Manchester just after 7.30am on Friday morning.
As she brought the light to her cigarette it set fire to the oxygen emitting from the nearby medical equipment, causing the gas to explode in her face.
The blast left her with severe burns and started a fire in a first-floor bedroom of the terraced house in Cartridge Street, Greater Manchester.
Emergency services were called to the scene but the fire was out by the time they arrived.
The woman received treatment in the house and was taken to Fairfield Hospital in Bury. Doctors then opted to put the woman into an induced coma.
She remained in intensive care for treatment last night. Shocked neighbours woke to find several fire engines and police cars in their street following the accident.
Frances Tennant, 85, who lives opposite her, said: ‘I do see her and her husband. They seem friendly. It’s a bit of a shock that this has happened and I hope she’s OK.
‘I could see police cars on the corner and plenty of activity with the fire service and I wondered what was going on.’
Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘They seem like a nice family. My boyfriend knows them better than me but we often say hello.
‘The fire engines woke me up this morning just before eight o’clock and I wondered what had happened.’
The family of the woman, who has not been named, declined to comment.
Find out about OxygenWorldwide : www.oxygenworldwide.com
article By AARON SHARP
PUBLISHED: 14:35, 7 December 2013
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2519834/Woman-left-fighting-life-sparking-huge-explosion-lighting-cigarette-wearing-oxygen-mask.html#ixzz2r5AmoP3e