In honour of COPD Awareness Month

As November marked National COPD Awareness Month we thought it gave justice to another article! An internationally-recognized event held annually to enhance exposure around chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke or exposure to air pollutants like cigarette smoke or outdoor pollution in the home or at work, family history, and respiratory infections like pneumonia also increase your risk.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • Frequent coughing or wheezing
  • Excess phlegm or sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble taking a deep breath

If you experience these symptoms, you should discuss them with your GP. One way to treat COPD is supplemental oxygen from a portable oxygen tank if blood oxygen levels are low.

 

ref: https://eparisextra.com

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Christmas trees could trigger deadly asthma attacks, doctors have warned.

christmas-tree

The festive fir in the corner of your living room harbours mould, which can aggravate the lungs.

Leading charity Asthma UK has urged people to be vigilant over the Christmas period.

Their data shows around 300 people are admitted to hospital on Christmas Day each year, suffering severe attacks, that could be linked to the festive favourite.

Mould that naturally grows on your tree can multiply in the warm temperatures of your living room.

And fake trees aren’t the safe alternative they may seem to be, gathering dust and mould in the loft, that can aggravate the lungs.

But, those with allergies as well as asthma sufferers should be alert to the dangers, Asthma UK urged. The moulds are naturally occurring on the trees, but flourish when they are inside our toasty warm homes in the winter.

But the charity also warns that both real and fake trees can also pose a threat.

 

Fake trees are a great alternative if the allergens that form on a real tree cause you too many breathing difficulties.

But artificial trees, and decorations, can gather dust and mould when they are kept in storage for the year which can cause a flare-up of symptoms when you put it up.

So it’s a good idea to wipe them down when you pull it out of storage and wrap them in plastic to keep the dust at bay when you put them away again.

 

 

 

reference: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/4981922/warning-doctors-christmas-tree-deadly-asthma-attacks/

50 years ago, a spacecraft discovered oxygen in moon rocks

Space scientists have been intrigued for years with the possibility of finding usable oxygen on the moon — not in the lunar atmosphere, since there essentially is none, but in the rocks. As long ago as 1962 … [NASA researchers] predicted vast lunar processing plants turning out 4,000 pounds of liquid oxygen per month, both for breathing and as an oxidizer for rocket fuel…. Now the Surveyor 5 spacecraft … reveals it is standing directly over just the kind of rock that would do the job. — Science News, October 14, 1967

Update

The moon is not yet dotted with lunar oxygen factories, but scientists are still devising ways to pull oxygen from moon rocks. One technique, proposed by NASA scientists in 2010, isolates oxygen by heating lunar rocks to over 1650° Celsius and exposing them to methane. Chemical reactions would produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which then react to create water. Passing an electric current through the water would separate oxygen from hydrogen, allowing the desired gas to be captured.

Excerpt from the October 14, 1967 issue of Science News

THE BEST supplements to boost your diet during dark winter months include vitamin D, which has now been found to protect against severe asthma attacks.

The best supplements to take during cold winter months include vitamin D due to the lack of sunshine.

However, a new study has found that topping up on the essential vitamin could also protect against severe asthma attacks too.

Asthma attacks can be more prevalent during winter because cold air in the airways can cause them to go into spasm, according to Asthma UK.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London discovered that people who took oral vitamin D supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve their risk of an asthma attack that required hospital attendance.

“On average, three people in the UK die from asthma attacks every day.

While getting vitamin D from sun exposure is the most efficient way to absorb it, people can struggle to get enough during the winter months and there is also the risk of skin cancer.

 

Reference: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/861375/best-supplements-vitamin-d-diet-asthma-attack-winter

New Smartphone App Could Help COPD Patients

Enter a new smartphone app that aims to use technology to help COPD sufferers to recognize emergencies, and avoid unnecessary doctors’ or ER visits.

 

 

Ted Smith is the CEO of Revon Systems, a tech company based in East Louisville, and the developer of the “Smart COPD” app. The app is designed on a simple premise: that some of those emergency room visits could have been prevented if people were able to track their symptoms.

“The focus of the app is helping you keep track of whether your systems are starting to deteriorate so that you don’t have to get to a point where you have to go to the hospital for emergency care” Smith said.

When you open the app, it poses a series of questions: “Shortness of breath?” “Cough?” and “Running nose or feeling like you have a cold?” It also asks for temperature, and for users to punch in the readings from a separate device that measures oxygen saturation and heart rate.

Finally, the app evaluates the information and tells the user whether they need to head to the ER, call their doctor, check back in a few days or that no medical attention is needed.

It’s simple, and requires only a cell phone and a cheap finger oxygen and heart rate monitor.

 

“People have telephones, they’re our life line. So putting a self-management tool on a cell phone is just a genius idea,” Montague said.

He sees that as a possible opportunity for Smart COPD to reach more people with low-incomes.

“If there’s one thing I wish for, it’s that we take advantage of something we’re already paying for as a society and turn it into health care,” Smith said.

Interested? Search for ‘Revon Systems’ in your App store and look for the “Smart COPD” app.

 

 

Reference: http://wfpl.org/local-entrepreneur-creates-copd-app-shows-hope-for-louisvillians/

Thunderstorm Asthma on the Rise

For seasonal allergy sufferers, rain is usually thought of as a friend—it washes the pollen out of the air. However, there are circumstances in which a particular type of wet weather event can make things much worse: thunderstorms. Asthma epidemics have occurred under such circumstances and have affected patients who have never exhibited asthmatic symptoms before. The most recent severe episode occurred in Melbourne, Australia, in 2016, with 8500 emergency asthma visits and nine deaths.[1]

Recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dr Gennaro D’Amato and colleagues[1] explored the nature of this phenomenon and implications for the future. The authors point out that although rare, these events are expected to occur more often with anticipated climate change. According to the authors, the evidence for this so far is limited to pollen and outdoor mold seasons—but even in the northeastern United States, that is about three quarters of the year.

 

Who Is at Risk?

Certainly, people who are sensitized to the relevant allergens are at risk. Beyond that, we can presume that patients who already have poorly controlled asthma or more bronchial hyperresponsiveness would be at risk, as would patients who have other concurrent risk factors for allergic asthma (such as rhinovirus infection[5]).

What differentiates people who died of asthma from those who did not? Did they have bronchodilating asthma inhalers? Were these fatalities akin to fatal food anaphylaxis in patients who did not have treatment with injectable epinephrine? Many questions remain.

Thunderstorm asthma is an uncommon event that can overwhelm healthcare systems and kill patients. It is yet another reason to screen atopic patients for asthma. Those who are sensitized to pollens or outdoor molds and also wheeze with colds are prime candidates for additional evaluation for undiagnosed asthma. Likewise, patients with exercise-induced asthma (who perhaps have more than just this condition) should probably have spirometry to assess for baseline airway hyperreactivity and perhaps exhaled nitric oxide as well. Perhaps for milder asthmatics who are deemed at higher risk, instead of a bronchodilator alone, we should prescribe a combination inhaler with a corticosteroid and a long-acting fast-onset bronchodilator.

Interactive Medical Drones

By combining the two technologies, drones and telemedicine, a doctor miles away could instruct a layman at the scene in how to provide rudimentary, but perhaps life-saving, medical care.

Subbarao’s project, which he began the year after the Hattiesburg tornado, has now produced three prototypes and conducted several demonstration flights. It appears to be the most advanced attempt to equip a drone with audiovisual equipment so doctors and survivors can interact in an emergency.  Emergency management officials from Dallas, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., have reached out to him, as have officials from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 

Drone technology has been around for at least half a century, and for years people in health care have speculated about the medical use of drones, for example to transport medicines, organs for transplants, blood supplies and anti-venom serums.

Lee Smithson, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said, “This is going to be a phenomenal way to provide immediate medical attention anywhere in the state.” Noting Mississippi’s frequent poor rankings among states in measures of well-being, he added, “It’s about time that Mississippi leads the nation in something good for a change.”

The plan, Smithson said, is to eventually station a drone in as many as nine different areas of the state, so every place in Mississippi is within two hours of a medical drone.

Chris Sawyer, medical director of Remote Area Medical, isn’t surprised by the broad interest in the project. “It is revolutionary,” he said.

It’s also not altogether a surprise that the idea of an interactive medical drone arose in Mississippi. The state is frequently visited by tornadoes, some of which have caused substantial numbers of deaths and injuries. The state has a shortage of doctors and, according to Smithson, many areas of the state cannot be reached quickly by medical responders.

 

The current prototypes can only fly up to 5 miles, at speeds up to 40 mph, Lott says, but he’s working on another model that could travel far greater distances, up to 100 miles.

The drones carry a suitcase with medical supplies and equipment. The audiovisual equipment comes in two varieties: stand-alone cameras with microphones and speakers, and interactive goggles that can be worn by someone on the ground. In either case, a doctor from a remote location could instruct a survivor to train the camera on victims or parts of the body to assess their condition.

 

The doctor could give instructions on taking readings such as blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, or sugar or oxygen levels, using equipment dropped by the drone. And the doctor could talk a survivor through ways of giving aid, such as applying tourniquets, cleaning, clotting or bandaging wounds, and injecting medicines.

 

WILLIAM CAREY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE

Reference:Huff Post