It may not just be aging signs with breathlessness

Coughing and experiencing a lack of breath and slow breathing   be just down to age. You may never have smoked but you could still develop or be at risk for COPD and other lung diseases.

“While about 80% of COPD cases are related to having smoked, 20% are not,” says Dr. Bartolome Celli, a pulmonologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

COPD includes emphysema and severe asthma causing inflammation, destruction, or abnormal repair of airways and lung tissue, which reduces airflow and ultimately makes it harder to take in enough oxygen to supply the body.

Symptoms include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections, fatigue, excess phlegm, and even a blue tint to the lips or fingernails. But many of these are brushed aside.

“People may feel their symptoms are normal consequences of aging or having smoked. They don’t look for help until later in the course of the disease,” says Dr. Celli.

Early detection and prevention are key by quitting smoking; decreasing your exposure to air pollutants; getting vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia; and getting the medications necessary.

References (www.health.harvard.edu/COPD).

Sleep is so important

In a recent journal by SciTechnol explains how expensive measuring respiratory flow is and how a more practical method would be to use a non-contact mcirophone for audio signal recordings taken from a sleep lab or at home to help improve sleep quality.

Sleep is so important for all of us to funtion correctly, mentally and efficiently for our health and well-being. The amount of sleep a person requires differs from one person to another; most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

It is important that each and every one of us maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Stress, anxiety, diet and fluids all play their role in which could really affect our sleeping habits.

references and image credit: Journal of Sleep Disorders: Treatment & Care

Manage your COPD breathing with Yoga

Will yoga exercises help COPD patients manage breathlessness better?

Many people who suffer from a lung disease find it very hard to exercise. Often even the thought of physical activity makes them feel breathless. But there is a way to overcome these fears that only lead to a downward spiral of both physical and mental decline, practising yoga. This low impact form of exercise will not only help raising your energy levels, it also clears your mind from worry. Being good for everybody, it is also more and more recommended especially for people with lung diseases, like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases commonly known as COPD.

Why can yoga exercises be especially beneficial for COPD patients?

In yoga practice there are two essential parts that complement each other in a synergistic way. One part is the Asanas, physical posture that improve range of motion, balance, flexibility and strength of the body. The other part is the Pranayamas, breathing techniques that teach you how to control your breathing and keep your lungs more fully. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles. The two combined will help you improve your general fitness and make breathing easier and more efficient. Additional meditation helps relieve stress and anxiety, which allows you to extend the benefits of the pranayamas and asanas.

Pranayamas, breathing techniques, that can be beneficial for COPD patients are:

Pursed-lip Breathing

This is an exercise especially suitable to learn control your breathlessness. While leaning slightly forward you slowly breath out with your lips pursed, imagine you are blowing a kiss or cooling your soup. This slows down the exhalation and stimulates the abdominal muscles to contract and forces the diaphragm upwards, so the lungs will empty themselves better. Instead of long inhalations and short exhalations, which is a common reaction to breathlessness, you learn to do it the other way around, with an ideal rhythm being to make the exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. Not only will this calm you down and relieve the breathlessness, it also help to strengthen the breathing muscles.

Abdominal or Belly Breathing

COPD patient can benefit especially from the abdominal breathing technique, as it stimulates the diaphragm moving upward and downward, so more oxygen can be taken into the lower lobes of the lungs and spread through the body. At the same time the abdominal organs are massaged by the moving diaphragm, thus improving their intake of oxygen and functioning. By doing the belly breath your body relaxes and becomes re-energized at the same time.

Ujjayi Breathing or Ocean Breath

This is a special form of breath, typically used while practicing asanas. It is used to slow down the breath and make an audible sound by creating a constriction in the base of your throat, like you do when blowing out to create a fog on a mirror. It helps you to stay calm during the practice while focusing on the sound and avoiding breathlessness. It also is said to create heat in your body, which helps to keep up your energy levels throughout the practice. The diaphragm controls the length and the speed of your breath and will become stronger in doing so.

Correct breathing is an essential part of yoga; as the blood will be provided with more oxygen, which makes it possible to control energy levels and this will help you relax and calm your mind. Once you have controlled your breath by practicing pranayamas, you will feel more comfortable and confident to start practicing asanas.

Asanas, physical postures, recommended for COPD patients are:

Standing Mountain Pose

This is a straightforward pose, from which all other standing poses are performed. It requires you to stand tall, either with your arms raised or left hanging loosely at your sides. It teaches you to align your spine and balance the weight of your body, while focusing on your inner self. Your chest will open up and breathing will become easier.

Standing Back Bend

This pose is performed from the Standing Mountain Pose by placing your hands on your lower back with the fingers pointing down and arching your spine back. It helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders and opens up the respiratory system.

Standing Side Bends

These bends not only improve your posture by standing taller, it also regulates your breathing. The basic standing side bend is easily performed from the Standing Mountain pose. By exhaling with each bend, you stretch alternately to the left and to the right. This calming pose improves the flexibility of your rib cage and helps to strengthen your diaphragm to make breathing easier.

Seated Forward Bends

There are several seated forward bends, performed from either a chair or the floor. These poses calm the brain, stimulate the organs and stretch the spine and the shoulders to give more room to your lungs and help you to relax.

These are only a few examples of pranayamas and asanas that you can practice to help improve your lung condition. If reading this story triggered your enthusiasm to give it a try, do take some precautions before you begin. Things to consider are for example:

– Consult with your doctor or respiratory therapist about what is possible in your condition

– Always join a recognized yoga school, don´t go practicing by yourself without any coaching

– Be sure the yoga teacher of your choice is qualified, also for training special groups like COPD patients

– During class, always keep your inhaler or oxygen supply at hand

– Don´t overexert yourself, take a rest if you get exhausted or experience shortness of breath

With these precautions in mind and a good yoga teacher, you will surely be able to experience the benefits that can yoga give you, a fitter body and a mind more at ease.

Websites consulted:

http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/yoga#1

http://yogachicago.com/2014/03/yoga-for-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/

https://www.doyogawithme.com/yoga_breathing

 

Injected biosensors could measure your oxygen levels

A company in California has invented biosensors that can be injected into the body and not be rejected by the body’s immune system.  They could well replace traditional clinical laboratory testing and make our bodies continually accessible 24/7 so that we know exactly whats going on in our bodies and improve our health. The capability for these new biosensors to provide long-term, continuous streams of live data about the levels of various molecules in our body could completely alter the relationship we have with our bodies as well as transforming the healthcare system.

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We rarely get the chance to see whats happening inside our body unless we see an x-ray or have specific tests done; we rely on our doctors to take some blood or perform other one-ff tests in order to get a single snap shot of whats going on and interpreting it for us.

If we could see the data for ourselves continuously in real time, then we can make timely choices to prevent symptoms getting worse and have a continuous conversation with our own bodies to keep it within healthy parameters.

These new biosensors will have uses not only for healthy individuals wishing to remain so and monitor their health and fitness but also could be used in the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and COPD.

“Our tissue-integrated biosensor technology meets three key criteria for continuous monitoring: First, the data needs to be clinical-grade so that you and your healthcare provider can make medical decisions about your health and wellbeing. Second, the user experience needs to be seamless so adoption can fit into any workflow environment. And finally, the technology needs to be accessible at a reasonable cost in a form function that’s easy to use,” explained Dr Hwang.

  The biggest hurdle of biosensor development has been how to overcome the effects of the foreign body response and to stop the body from rejecting what it thinks are foreign objects.  The biosensors are placed under the skin with a specially designed injector. Each biosensor is a flexible fibre of 3-5mm long and 500 microns in diameter.  Rather than being isolated from the body these sensors are fully integrated into the tissue of the body. There are no metal devices or electronics involved and therefore overcomes the effect of the foreign body response.

  Each biosensor is comprised of a bio-engineered ‘smart hydrogel’ which is similar to contact lens material which forms a porous, tissue-integrating scaffold that also induces blood vessel growth and cell growth in the surrounding tissue.  The smart gel is linked to a florescent light-emitting molecule that continuously signals the presence of a body chemical like oxygen or glucose.
Adhered to the skin’s surface or held by hand, a separate optical reader is used to read the fluorescent signal from the embedded biosensor. The reader sends excitation signals through the skin to the biosensor, which then emits light proportional to the concentration of molecules being tracked. The data can be relayed to a smart phone for an encrypted personal record and historical tracking.

Their oxygen sensing system that the company has developed is a single biomarker sensor designed to measure dissolved oxygen in the tissue. It is the only long-term monitoring technology that guides therapeutic action and measures tissue oxygen levels during the treatment and healing process for peripheral artery disease (PAD). It will be available in Europe this year to be used by vascular surgeons and wound-healing specialists. Other respiratory disease patients can also benefit from using this technology such as those who suffer with COPD.  They can continuously measure their oxygen levels using real time data in order to be able to adapt and alter medications and supplemental oxygen flow rates in order to prevent exacerbations and hospital admissions. It would help respiratory disease patients to continuously monitor their condition and provide real data for their healthcare provider to monitor and aid in their long-term treatment. It could help prevent exacerbations and help to prolong quality of life and increase survival rates.

In the future we would be able to monitor practically every biomarker in our body and would not need blood tests and some other clinical monitoring tests at hospital to be performed and would reduce the burden upon on the healthcare system. Results could be sent wirelessly to the doctor who could monitor from afar and would change the way medicine is practiced and put the responsibility and control into the hands of the patient.

 

References: http://www.prnewswire.com

 

 

New device could predict asthma attacks in children

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Researchers from a University in Utah have developed a model that can anticipate the deterioration of asthma in children. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease where the airways narrow and become swollen due to mucus accumulation in the lungs. Patients experience difficulty in breathing, coughing, frequent respiratory infections and tightness of the chest. It is believed that asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors such as pollution, dust and smoking. There is no cure for asthma, for those with mild cases it can be handled by avoiding triggers such as pollution and certain foods but for those with more severe cases medications are needed to try and treat the symptoms however many patients suffer more frequent exacerbations and asthma attacks. Oxygen therapy and more severe medications are also sometimes needed for those that suffer from it badly.

Millions of people suffer from asthma and children are affected more than adults.  Asthma attacks can be terrifying for both the child and their parents and it is difficult for a child to communicate their health status. Sometimes the parent has no idea the child is unwell until they cant breath and are in the middle of an asthma attack. This also results in huge cost to the NHS with children being admitted to hospital after visiting the A and E department for an attack. It would be helpful if the child or parents could anticipate that an attack may occur so that they can be prepared and maybe put into action a plan to prevent an exacerbation or reduce the frequency or severity of them.

The researchers have developed a machine learning model that is able to predict signs of asthma deterioration in children one week prior to an exacerbation. The Asthma Symptom Tracker is a self-monitoring tool that has been trialed on children with asthma over a 2 year period.  The data has been collected and allowances made for temperature, humidity, tree pollen count etc and the results suggested that the mode; was 71% accurate, 74% sensitive and 71% specific in predicting an exacerbation a week later.

This model can now be integrated into an electronic device, which can be worn by the user. The device can take constant readings and warn the user of a potential case of deterioration in their health.  The overall success rate is around 75% so would be extremely useful in helping those that suffer from asthma, as hopefully in the future a model can be developed for adults too. This could reduce exacerbations, improve the well-being of the patients and decrease the burden on the health care system.

 

References: http://lungdiseasenews.com

 

 

Your head can heal your body and even reduce oxygen therapy

Science is increasingly proving to us that what is going on in your brain can affect how the body heals, even from chronic conditions such as MS, chronic pain, HIV and COPD.

Obviously this should be used in conjunction with traditional treatments and medications, not instead of but science proves that what’s in your head can speed up and improve your body’s healing processes and it can influence everything from your immune system to pain control.

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Our mental state has dramatic effects when it comes to the symptoms we experience like pain, fatigue, nausea and depression. Playing a virtual-reality game can ease pain in burn victims by 50% more than by drugs alone. Placebo painkillers trigger the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. Showing that our thoughts and expectations can have a similar effect that drugs do. If we feel stressed and alone then warning signs such as pain, fatigue and nausea are amplified and if we feel safe and cared for then our symptoms are eased. Ultimately are brain controls and creates the experience of any damage that has been caused to our body. Our mood and mental and emotional state plays a huge part in being able to amplify or ease symptoms. Studies have shown that patients receiving warm, friendly good quality care at the GP and hospitals showed an ease in their symptoms compared to those to had a more quick, abrupt, colder experience. So regardless of the treatment given, it can be how the care is delivered that can determine a patient’s outcome and our recent trend of shortened 10min appointment slots and reduced staffing levels are in fact proven to be detrimental to patient care and outcome.

The brain controls physiological functions from digestion to the immune system and therefore is also relevant for the physical progression of the disease too. We cant wish ourselves better but by modulating our responses to stress we can influence our own brain into control our internal processes in a positive way to help reverse the progression of chronic conditions.

Stress of a situation can cause just as much harm as a physical injury for example in an earthquake just as many die from heart attacks as from falling rubble. Studies show that patients who feel negative or anxious before an invasive procedure will suffer more complications during and afterwards. Relaxation techniques have shown to vastly reduce pain and anxiety as well as the rate of adverse effects. Stressful situations can also effect our bowel movements and patients with IBS have found that gut-focused hypnotherapy teaches patients to tackle stress and calm their digestive system and is highly effective.

Stress also affects the immune system and in cases of long-term chronic conditions it can disrupt the healthy immune response and result in infections and auto-immune disease. It can accelerate MS and HIV conditions and recent studies have shown that stress-management therapy can stall progressions in MS and that mindfulness mediation can slow HIV.

There is also evidence that the mind plays a role in cancer. Stress hormones have been shown to make some cancers spread faster and an imbalance in the immune system can encourage the growth of tumours. Early results from studies show that stress-management reduces inflammation but we are still waiting to see if that translates into increased survival rates. Even if this isn’t found to happen, easing the fatigue and nausea from chemotherapy may encourage someone to stick to their treatment plan and indirectly improve survival.

Patients with COPD have found that through relaxation, meditation and stress management therapy they can ease their symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of exacerbations and reduce the amount of oxygen therapy they need.

The mind can’t heal everything but it is clear that our mental state does have wide-ranging physiological effects that can affect our health in many ways even with those suffering chronic serious diseases. Trying to stay positive, feeling cared for and dealing with stressful situations can benefit your health.

 

 

References: http://www.thedailybeast.com

PINEAPPLE JUICE COULD HELP WITH YOUR COUGH

Pineapple juice has been shown to be 5 times more effective than cough syrup. It fights infection, kills bacteria, loosens mucus and suppresses coughs.

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Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is effective to combat lung inflammation. It is used to treat arthritis and is also used in the treatment of inflammation and swelling in the nose and sinuses. 1 cup also contains half of your daily requirement of Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is essential because as well as many other uses, it also enables your body to metabolize certain vital enzymes that regulate your metabolism and manage energy. Pineapple juice also contains manganese, which is a mineral that helps form healthy connective tissue and bones. It also works to absorb more calcium, metabolize carbohydrates and fats and increases regular nerve function. Pineapple juice helps to soothe sore throats and helps to loosen and expel mucus from your lungs more easily.

The study also indicates that the bromelain naturally present in pineapple may provide similar effects if the cough you suffer from is due to asthma. Pineapple juice has also been used to treat other respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, hay fever, asthma and pneumonia. It’s even being tested as a possible treatment for cancer and HIV.

Drinking pineapple juice instead of cough syrup is less expensive and has no toxic chemicals. Also a study also showed that when using pineapple juice patients recovered nearly 5 times faster from their ailments and exhibited a decrease in other symptoms related to coughing such as hacking.

If you suffer from persistent coughing from respiratory conditions such as COPD and asthma then by drinking pineapple juice not only does it soothe related ailments from persistent coughing but it suppresses the cough and helps to loosen mucus build-up and also aids in combating lung inflammation. This in itself can hugely improve your quality of life, help you to breathe better and help to reduce your symptoms and improve your condition. The naturally-occuring components also have other health benefits to aid in your overall health.

References: http://preventdisease.com and http://www.survivalmagazine.org