NTM (nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease) is still considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
(BPT) - Having a friend or loved one with a chronic and progressive condition teaches you many things: patience, understanding and adapting to lifestyle changes after diagnosis. But for Mary, supporting her friend, Barbara, living with a serious lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease taught her the importance of listening.
While taking weekly walks together, Mary first noticed Barbara was experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as coughing fits and getting tired very easily. Barbara’s symptoms continued for two years, and Mary later found out that Barbara was living with NTM lung disease — a serious and progressive condition caused by bacteria that can lead to lung damage and respiratory symptoms.
From speaking with Barbara, she realized that while Barbara was relieved to have an explanation for her symptoms, she also felt overwhelmed and scared by her new diagnosis.
Mary recalls, “As her friend, I was upset that she had to face this health issue and wanted to know how I could help. I realized the best way I could show Barbara my support was to ‘walk with her’ and let her know she wasn’t alone.”
About NTM Lung Disease
NTM bacteria are common in the environment and can be found in tap water, showerheads, steam from hot tubs, and soil from parks and gardens. While everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, most people do not develop NTM lung disease because their lungs are healthy enough to clear the bacteria. However, people with a history of lung conditions, like bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, are more likely to develop NTM lung disease because the damage from these conditions can make it easier for NTM to infect their lungs.
NTM lung disease is considered rare, but cases are growing 8 percent each year. In 2018, it is estimated that 75,000–105,000 patients were diagnosed with NTM lung disease in the U.S. Since awareness of NTM lung disease is limited and the symptoms of NTM lung disease, like chronic coughing, feeling tired often and shortness of breath, are similar to other lung conditions, many people who have it may not even know it for months or sometimes years.
Providing Encouragement and Understanding
Following an NTM lung disease diagnosis, patients may have a hard time coping with the impact the disease can have on their lifestyle. Emotional support from family and friends is crucial to help patients navigate these new challenges.
After learning about Barbara’s diagnosis, Mary encouraged her to speak about the tests she was undergoing and treatment she was taking as well as how she was feeling. Mary was also there to support Barbara through some of the lifestyle changes that she was making to help manage her condition — whether it was hearing about the adjustments she made when traveling or ways to help limit her exposure to NTM bacteria at home.
Mary also understood that keeping up weekly walks helped Barbara physically and emotionally. She made sure that they stuck to their routine and made adjustments whenever necessary, such as walking for shorter distances or slowing down their pace based on how Barbara was feeling.
“Barbara’s diagnosis made our friendship stronger because she knew she could confide in me and receive the support and reassurance she needed — even if that just meant listening,” Mary shares. “While everyone’s experience with NTM lung disease is different, sometimes knowing there is someone willing to listen to what you’re going through can make a world of difference.”
Like many other loved ones of NTM lung disease patients, Mary had never heard about the condition before Barbara’s diagnosis. She let Barbara be her teacher and learned a lot about the condition through her experience. Today, she’s more informed about NTM lung disease and can be a better source of guidance and support for Barbara.
There are also several online patient resources available to learn more about NTM lung disease, such as the Voices of NTM Lung Disease eMagazine on AboutNTM.com, which provides information on living with and managing NTM lung disease through first-person stories from different members of the community, like Barbara and Mary. On AboutNTM.com, you can also access more information on how to join support groups to connect with others who have NTM lung disease, and how to sign up to receive helpful resources.
Sponsored by Insmed Incorporated.
By following these 8 commonsense tactics from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), you can get ahead of your allergies and keep them in the rear-view mirror all season long.
(BPT) - Spring. The time of year when, as poet Alfred Lord Tennyson famously said, a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy "lightly turns to thoughts of love." That is, of course, if you're not sneezing, coughing or dealing with itchy eyes. Spring allergies seem to get worse every year. Is there anything you can do to avoid them?
Yes, says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “You might feel like suffering from allergies is going to happen every spring no matter what, but there are ways to help alleviate your symptoms.”
These 8 ACAAI tips will help you enjoy the season instead of sitting it out indoors.
1. See an allergist. Before the season kicks in, make an appointment with an allergist to find out exactly what is causing those itchy, watery eyes. Discovering the allergen that you’re reacting to is the first step in treating it. The ACAAI’s Allergist Locator can help you find a board-certified allergist in your area.
2. Find out if it’s allergies or asthma. Or both. The symptoms from asthma can be similar to those of allergies. To make matters worse, allergies plus asthma can be a one-two punch for some allergy sufferers. Almost 75 percent of asthma sufferers also have allergies. Your allergist can diagnose what's causing your symptoms and offer suggestions for treatment so you can start living the life you want to live.
3. Consider allergy shots… They may be the best way to treat tree, grass, mold, dust mite, cat and dog allergies. Allergy shots are immunotherapy. That means your allergist will gradually give you increasingly larger doses of whatever you’re allergic to. There are also tablets that melt under your tongue to treat allergies to ragweed, grass pollen and dust mites. Both forms create a tolerance within your immune system.
4. …or get a prescription. Research has shown that most allergy sufferers find prescription medications more effective than those they can get over the counter. But most people don't go in search of a prescription. An allergist can discover exactly what you’re allergic to and prescribe the right medication to ease your symptoms.
5. Start medication before the season hits. Don’t wait. Much like successful pain management involves getting in front of pain before it kicks into high gear, by taking your allergy medications before the worst symptoms develop, you’ll be doing a lot to alleviate those symptoms. If you usually start feeling it in March or April, start taking your medications in February.
6. Commit to a thorough spring cleaning. It's not just to give the house a fresh look after the long winter. A deep clean will reduce allergens like mold, which build up in basements and other areas where you might not go every day. It’s also a great way to get rid of the pet hair and dander that have built up in places like your sofa. Wash throw rugs regularly, too, in hot water.
7. Wash the day away before going to bed. Take a shower and wash your hair before hitting the hay to rinse away pollen and other allergens you've picked up during the day. Similarly, wash your sheets and bedding once a week in hot water.
8. Use the AC. It’s tempting to throw open the windows and let that fresh spring air waft into the house. The only problem is, pollen and other allergens will waft in with it. Instead, use your air conditioner and make sure the filter is clean. Change your filter every three months and use one with a MERV rating of 11 or 12.
With a few commonsense tactics, you can get ahead of your allergies and keep them in the rear-view mirror all season long.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
(BPT) - For people living with asthma, managing the condition becomes part of their daily life. But some may not know that, in spite of their best efforts, their asthma may still be uncontrolled.
Benjamin Buckley was one of those people. Ben, as he was known, was just 7 years old when he died from asthma-related complications in 2014. Now, Ben’s mother, Cristin Buckley, is sharing his story in an effort to help raise awareness of just how serious asthma can be.
According to Cristin, it was a normal Saturday morning in the Buckley household. Ben went to his sister’s basketball game with the rest of the family, but when the game ended, Ben asked if he could go home and use his nebulizer, as he was experiencing an asthma attack.
Later that day, Cristin received a frantic call from her husband and daughter and came home to find Ben had collapsed in the driveway. Police and paramedics were already on the scene performing CPR. They were able to start Ben’s heart, but he was unconscious and not able to breathe on his own. He remained in a coma for five days until he passed away.
“What we didn’t realize was that Ben was using his rescue inhaler way more than he should have been. We were refilling it once a month,” said Cristin. “The pharmacy just kept refilling the prescription, so we didn’t think it was an issue. Looking back now, we know his asthma was uncontrolled.”
And it appears the Buckley family is not alone, as studies indicate that asthma is responsible for deaths every day in the United States, most of which are believed to occur in patients with uncontrolled asthma.
“Uncontrolled asthma can have a huge impact on a patient’s health,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “Patients may not know the signs — but if someone is using their rescue inhaler more than twice a week, and their asthma is interrupting daily activities and sleep, they should really talk to their doctor immediately to assess if it is uncontrolled.”
Cristin’s number one priority today is that Ben’s asthmatic twin brother Adam, now 11 years old, is equipped to handle an attack on his own. To ensure he is prepared, Cristin takes Adam for his annual check-up with his allergist before the school year starts.
“Make sure their doctor takes the time to sit down and teach them how to properly use their inhaler,” Cristin said. “People think they can just put it in their mouth and take a few puffs and it works just fine, but so much medicine is wasted or doesn’t get into the lungs because they’re not taking a deep enough breath.”
Another one of her main priorities, particularly before school starts, is to make sure all of Adam’s inhalers have enough medicine in them. As such, Cristin relies on inhalers fitted with dose counters to help both her and Adam better manage his asthma. A dose counter works by showing the user exactly how many doses are left in the inhaler — similar to looking at a bottle of pills to see how much medicine is left.
“I think dose counters are one of the best things ever invented,” Cristin said. “Before they were integrated into inhalers, you were blindly leading your child. You had no idea how much medicine was left.”
Dr. Parikh also noted that the addition of a dose counter to asthma management can create a helpful dialogue between patients and their doctors. She explained how the dose counter allows the doctor to see how much medicine has been used since the previous visit and determine if a patient is using their rescue inhaler too frequently.
“When using an inhaler that does not include a dose counter, you really are taking a gamble on your life,” said Cristin.
For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com, and for more on Ben and Cristin’s story, visit www.BenWasHere.org.
Mrs. Buckley has been compensated for her time in contributing this program.
Whether you’re planning outdoor fun for your backyard, a local park or the open wilderness, portable generators can take your outdoor recreation and summer fun to the next level, but their exhaust fumes can pose serious risks. So before you head out to enjoy a fun summer day, make sure you’re ready to protect your family from the potential dangers associated with portable generator use with these tips.
Protect Your Family During Summer Fun
(Family Features) Summer is the perfect time for outdoor recreational activities, from ballpark tailgates and camping trips to backyard barbecues or simply hosting a party outside. Portable generators can be used to make these activities even more enjoyable, but their exhaust fumes can pose serious risks. So before you head out to enjoy a fun summer day, make sure you’re ready to protect your family from the potential dangers associated with portable generator use.
Whether you’re planning outdoor fun for your backyard, a local park or the open wilderness, portable generators can take your outdoor recreation and summer fun to the next level. Portable generators make it possible to cook, use a cooling fan, play festive music, power a karaoke machine or even light up a string of twinkling lights to help set the stage for a great time.
“Some of our most beloved summer traditions can be even more enjoyable with electricity from a portable generator, but there are some notable risks,” said Susan Orenga, representative for the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association (PGMA). “Proper handling and taking the appropriate safety precautions can help ensure that users fully appreciate the benefits of portable power.”
The most serious risk comes from exhaust fumes containing carbon monoxide, a gas you cannot smell, see or taste. Excess exposure can have fatal consequences for both people and animals.
This summer, portable generators will be used for a variety of applications, providing a convenient, flexible energy source that is easily transportable. Taking proper safety precautions will help ensure you can enjoy the many benefits and capabilities of portable generator use without putting yourself or others in danger.
Before you use a portable generator to power up your summer activities, keep these safety tips from PGMA top of mind:
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - A stuffy nose. Scratchy throat. Difficulty breathing. It's bad enough when spring allergy season reaps its ugly head, but when the things in your home trigger your asthma and allergies too, you feel like you're in an endless battle to feel healthy.
"Many household goods are hidden sources of asthma and allergy triggers," says Dr. Cary Sennett, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Fortunately, you can breathe easier by shopping smarter. By keeping a few tips in mind, you'll be able to select products that reduce the likelihood of flares or attacks."
Dr. Sennett and the experts at AAFA offer these shopping tips to limit asthma and allergy triggers in your home.
1. Look for the asthma & allergy friendly mark.
By being selective in what you purchase, you can dramatically impact asthma and allergy triggers in your home. The first step when shopping is to look for AAFA's asthma & allergy friendly Certification Mark. This strict scientifically-based program was created 10 years ago to test products from cleaning supplies to toys and more to ensure they're suitable for families with asthma or allergies. Feel confident when you look for the mark in stores or online. For a full list of products and where to find them, visit www.aafa.org/certified.
2. Avoid trouble cleaning product ingredients.
Removing allergens in the home requires regular cleaning, but oftentimes the cleaning products themselves can trigger asthma and allergy attacks. It's best to avoid products with strong odors. If you must use strong cleaning products, try wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
3. Buy breathable bedding to sleep well.
You spend one-third of your time in the bedroom, so it's important to purchase products that won't trigger your allergies or asthma. Look for bedding where the outer fabric is an effective allergen barrier, plus it can easily be cleaned to remove allergen accumulation. Additionally, bedding must be breathable to ensure comfort and contain no chemicals known to trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.
4. Research air cleaners and humidifiers that boost air quality.
Good indoor air quality is vital for families living with allergies and asthma. First, look for the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Mark. For humidifiers, look for options that maintain appropriate moisture levels while sanitizing the water. For air cleaners, look for independent testing that proves the device reduces allergens from the air by removal and not just redistribution.
5. Use a high-quality vacuum regularly.
Vacuuming once a week is important for reducing allergens, but if you don't get a good vacuum you may simply be redistributing those irritants throughout your house. A certified vacuum will have a high quality air filtration system that captures even microscopic particles. Furthermore, the vacuum should not release irritants when you have to change the bag, either.
6. Gift toys that inspire smiles rather than cause sniffles.
For children, a favorite teddy should provide comfort, not sniffles and sneezes. Unfortunately, doctors often recommend removing stuffed toys from children with asthma and allergies. Because stuffed toys are similar to filled bedding products, they can house dust mites and other allergens as well as contain dyes that could irritate a child's sensitivities. Look for toys that earn the certification.
This means that the toy can easily be cleaned to remove allergen accumulation, contains no chemicals known to trigger allergies or allergens, plus the colors will not bleed from rubbing or saliva.
For more smart shopping tips, including what to look for in washers, dryers, paint and more, download the AAFA Certified Products Guide at www.aafa.org/certified.
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