Nearly 16 million people in the United States are currently living with a COPD diagnosis, and millions more don’t know they have it. In people with COPD, the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs become partially blocked, which makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. If left undetected, the disease can greatly affect your quality of life and your ability to complete even ordinary daily activities.
Are Your Lungs Trying to Tell You Something?
(Family Features) Do you get short of breath doing daily activities? Feel like you’re unable to take deep breaths? Are you constantly coughing or wheezing? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious, potentially devastating lung disease also known as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Though it’s easy to think of these symptoms as just part of “getting older’’ or as problems that come with allergies, often they are not.
Nearly 16 million people in the United States are currently living with a COPD diagnosis, and millions more don’t know they have it. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability.
In people with COPD, the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs become partially blocked, which makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. If left undetected, the disease can greatly affect your quality of life and your ability to complete even ordinary daily activities.
COPD often occurs in people who have a history of smoking or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke and other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dusts from the environment or workplace. The chances of getting COPD also increases significantly in people who have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic condition.
While COPD develops slowly and worsens over time, its symptoms can be treated and its progression can be slowed, which is why early detection and treatment are so important. If you are noticing any issues with your breathing, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for COPD. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin. Your provider will design a treatment plan to help address your symptoms and improve your lung function and quality of life.
The key to keeping COPD at bay – or preventing it from getting worse – is to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms early and discuss them with your health care provider. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can get back to doing the things you love.
Through educational efforts like the Learn More Breathe Better program (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/breathebetter ), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute shares valuable information about the symptoms of COPD, as well as how to diagnose and treat it. With these tools, those living with COPD can effectively manage the disease, and those who have symptoms can find the support and assistance they need.
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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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) - Persistent dry cough. Fatigue. Shortness of breath. These symptoms are sometimes associated with a passing virus, especially during the peak of cold and flu season. Coughs can last an average of 18 days; however, if your dry cough is still lingering after two months, another condition, such as pulmonary fibrosis, might be the cause.
“There are more than 50,000 new cases of pulmonary fibrosis diagnosed every year, yet many patients have never heard of it prior to their diagnosis,” said William T. Schmidt, president and CEO of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF). “Some individuals with the disease may be first misdiagnosed with pneumonia, bronchitis or asthma, which is why it is imperative we continue to raise awareness about the disease, common symptoms and risk factors.”
What is pulmonary fibrosis?
While the condition is largely unknown, more than 200,000 Americans are living with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive, debilitating lung disease. In simple terms, pulmonary fibrosis is scarring in the lungs that, over time, can destroy the normal lung and make it hard for oxygen to get into the blood.
Currently, there is no cure once scarring has begun, but the PFF is mobilizing people and resources to provide access to high-quality care, as well as leading research for a cure so individuals with pulmonary fibrosis will live longer, healthier lives.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?
There are three main symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis — shortness of breath, a dry, hacking cough and fatigue. If you have two or more of these lingering symptoms, they should be taken seriously and you should speak with your physician.
“I started off with a slight, dry cough. I didn’t know what it was,” said Dot Delarosa, a pulmonary fibrosis patient who received a life-saving lung transplant in 2010. “I would talk and I would cough, talk and cough. To me, this was my normal.”
While anyone can develop pulmonary fibrosis, it is more likely to occur in those 60 years and older with a history of smoking, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for the disease. Other risk factors include: a family history of pulmonary fibrosis; prior or current use of certain medications such as chemotherapy and amiodarone; a history of radiation treatment to the chest; environmental and occupational exposures including indoor mold, birds or asbestos; and a previous diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease.
How do I find out if I have pulmonary fibrosis?
Although many of these symptoms are seen with more common diseases such as COPD, asthma and heart disease, it is important to consider pulmonary fibrosis. If you have symptoms or risk factors, the first step is to speak with your healthcare provider. Early diagnosis is key to maximizing treatment options. With a lesser known disease like pulmonary fibrosis, advocating for your health is crucial. To help you start that conversation with your doctor, a downloadable Pulmonary Fibrosis Risk List is available at AboutPF.org.
To be diagnosed, you may need further testing after a thorough physical exam with your physician. Testing to help facilitate a clear diagnosis may include pulmonary function testing and/or high-resolution computed tomography.
If further action needs to be taken, you can find a local pulmonologist through the PFF Care Center Network, which includes centers with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
For more information or to find a pulmonologist near you, visit AboutPF.org.
(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.
(BPT) - Breathe in. Breathe out. Just take a moment to inhale and exhale. We too often take breathing for granted, but what if taking a breath was a challenge?
If you’re someone living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death in the United States (US), or know someone living with this chronic respiratory disease, breathing challenges may impact how you live your life. As of 2010, there were more than 14 million people identified as having COPD in the US, and another estimated 12 million people who remain undiagnosed.
In an effort to celebrate life and the important role that breathing plays within it, AstraZeneca has partnered with New York City-based filmmaker Erlendur Sveinsson to produce Ode to Breathing. Ode to Breathing is a documentary-style short film that strings together brief vignettes, providing a moving look at people doing an ordinary yet profound thing: breathing. It can be found online at www.odetobreathing.com.
People living with COPD or their caregivers can consider the following tips when thinking about respiratory health.
1. Keep an eye on symptom changes. Early COPD detection can impact disease management, which makes it important to monitor for changes in your breathing and recognize symptoms such as shortness of breath while performing daily activities, chronic cough, fatigue and wheezing.
2. Remember, COPD in many cases is preventable. Risk factors to be aware of may include smoking tobacco (including second-hand or passive exposure); indoor air pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating); outdoor air pollution; occupational dusts and chemicals (vapors, irritants and fumes); and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
3. Stay inspired and educated. Visit Ode to Breathing at www.odetobreathing.com and watch the inspirational video and access available helpful resources for COPD patients. One such resource is a free e-book that may help people with respiratory illnesses breathe easier with breathing exercises, tips for making day-to-day activities like chores easier, and ways to manage breathing challenges while at work or traveling.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor. If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing COPD symptoms, speak to a healthcare provider to determine what options are available to help you breathe easier to help you enjoy life’s simple moments.
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