Simply put, bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is the process of inserting a catheter into the airways and heat to reduce the mass of the smooth muscle tissue that surround the airways. What the doctor is typically doing during this outpatient procedure is administering moderate sedation while inserting the tube/catheter. Each treatment lasts about an hour, with the entire treatment taking three sessions with three weeks in between each session.
Clinical trials and subsequent use of the technique have shown that for people with severe persistent asthma, for whom drug treatments are not effective, BT might be an alternative. In short term, two year, and five year trials, patients saw significant and sustained reductions in the number of emergency room and unscheduled doctors visits, and this trend has continued with usage of the treatment amongst the greater population of severe asthma sufferers. Another, but lesser benefit, has been that some people have been able to slightly reduce the medication they take to manage their asthma.
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks involved, and this type of treatment is not recommended but for about 5-10% of the asthmatic population (the segment with the most severe and most resistant to drug treatments). The process itself can be uncomfortable as most people will experience wheezing or coughing shortly after treatment, due to the irritation of the airways by the BT procedure.
It is important to note a few other things with BT. First, it is not a cure. There is no known cure for asthma. Second, this treatment if only available for people with severe asthma, for whom standard medications do not work well. Third, though this type of treatment may help, it is not going to take the place of medication. In many ways, it seems to help medication be more effective in people, for whom previously it did not work. This type of treatment is not near as universally available as prescription asthma medications, so for many, it simply may not be available.
To read the abstract of the 5-year trial, one of the earliest clinical trials, or for more information on the FDA approved device itself.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
As a non smoker, I’m not a fan of the stench of smoke in my hair and clothes, and it’s the number one “no-no” for my teeth and skin health (along with overall health, of course). Moving from a state that had no indoor smoking establishments (except BBQ joints, hardy har-har!) to a state that permits smoking in restaurants and bars that serve to persons over 18, this was just one more thing to adapt to. But it would seem that thanks to electronic cigarettes, we can all have our cake and eat it too.
Electronic cigarettes, aka e-cigarettes, hit the scene around 2007, following the hookah fad which took to trend in 2005. They are becoming mainstream with shops opening up in cities like Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia, offering a plethora of flavors to "vape" or "smoke". The design is similar to an actual cigarette (some even look like real cigarettes) but includes a colored LED light which lights up when the nicotine solution is heated in an atomizer, vaporized and ready to inhale.
As these electronic cigarettes become more mainstream, we have to ask if they are a healthier alternative to cigarettes. We can consider that they cut down on second hand smoke, which is harmful to children, asthmatics and those with MCS, and they cut down on waste (cigarette butts take over 12 years to biodegrade).
Western Europe has embraced them. University of Auckland in New Zealand sees them as effective as nicotine patches, and the University of Athens, Greece considers them a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking. Dr. Jacques Le Houezec, a French consultant in public health and tobacco dependence, declares cigarettes to have levels of toxicants that are 9 to 450 higher than in e-cigarettes.
For the most part it seems that they are getting the thumbs up as a healthier alternative to Camel, and Lucky Strike (ever seen the pilot for Mad Men? You must if you haven’t!). Research and regulations are only beginning to make progress to ensure that use of e-cigarettes, or vapins, is safer than actual cigarettes, a claim long held by e-cigarette manufacturers and supported by some in the medical community.
Overall, there has been a relative lack of research as to longterm health effects of using e-cigarettes, but initial studies do show an impact on the airways after just a few minutes of use. While they do contain less of the 400 chemicals (40 of which are carcinogens) found in conventional cigarettes, it is probably too early to deem them "healthy". But perhaps most troubling for many is the proliferation of sweet and candy-like flavors that have cropped up in recent years. Like Cherry, Vanilla, and Berry flavored smokeless tobacco and the old Joe Camel cartoon character before them, sweetly flavored e-cigarettes seem to be geared toward children. Though some flavors contain nicotine while others do not, Bananas Foster, Caramel Apple, Cheesecake, Strawberries & Cream, and Watermelon Bubblegum are all nicotine flavors available for e-cigarettes.
Currently there are no federal age restrictions on the sale or use of e-cigarettes, though some states limit sales to those over the age of 18. Growth in this industry has been tremendous, particularly in the last few years, and this trend doesn't show any signs of slowing down. As things surrounding this topic continue to change, including research as to their health vs. harm, I'll keep you updated.
Author: R. Power
If allergies have gotten you down this winter, take a look at any in our line of mattress, pillow and duvet covers. Each effectively blocks dust mites, pollen and other common household allergens that can hide in your bedding and keep you from getting a peaceful night's sleep.
If the cold weather is taking its toll, consider one of our many types of blankets. From USDA-certified organic cotton, or snuggly warm microfleece to Vellux and custom down comforters, we've got what you need to stay warm this winter.
Pillow worn, stained, or just lost their fluff? Try our exclusive Allergy Armor Ultra pillow. With the industry's smallest pore size, the Ultra dust mite and allergen barrier fabric is sewn right in! No need for a separate pillow cover. And if sheets are what you need, we've got you covered with GOTS certified organic cotton sheets, perfect for people with sensitive skin, eczema or multiple chemical sensitivities. And lastly, if you were looking to make a big purchase, like upgrading to a custom-crafted Royal Pedic mattress, now is the time to save big!
Regardless of what your bedding needs are, shop now and save 15% by using coupon code WHTSALE14 when checking out!
Author: K. Gilmore
Due to some snow and extremely slick and icy roads, orders are likely going to be delayed a day or two. With the National Guard out helping to rescue stranded motorists, and most of the region trying to thaw out, orders placed today will be processed and shipped within the next 1-2 days.
On a personal note, with the interstates effectively turned into icy parking lots and most of the side streets in and around the city of Atlanta doubling as bobsled runs, you sometimes have to make the best of tough situation. I was more fortunate than many of those, friends, coworkers and others, who were forced to spend the night in their vehicles, trapped by the ice and traffic. But I did want to take a moment to point out one of the benefits of working at AchooAllergy.com.
Always a warm place to sleep!
Stay warm, stay safe, and we'll be back to normal in no time!
Key Features Include
- Made from USDA certified organic cotton
- Great for winter but light enough for year round use
- From start to finish, made right here in the U.S.
- Free of pesticide and fertilizer residues as well as chemical treaters and dyes that are common in textiles
- Gentle for those with sensitive skin, eczema, chronic dermatitis, or other skin conditions
- Available in four sizes
- Machine Washable
To see why the T3 is unique to the Steamboy line, I first want to look at the other two models. The original Steamboy T1 is your general all-purpose steam mop. It produces steam quickly, is lightweight and compact. The T1 sanitizes while it cleans and come with microfiber drawstring cleaning cloth. All of those features make the T1 a solid steam mop. With the T2, you have steam mop capabilities but you also get an integrated sweeper to pick up large, visible particles like dirt and hair.
In terms of steam cleaning, the new Reliable T3 takes a step forward by featuring an integrated scrubber brush. Like the T1, there is large triangular steam cleaner head, but nestled inside of that is a bristle scrub brush. With the push of a foot pedal, the bristle brush emerges from the base, giving you the ability to scrub while you steam. This setup is ideal for use on tile in your bathroom and kitchen. Use steam and scrubbing bristles to loosen soil, grime and mildew then snap the scrubbing head back into the base and lift away the mess with the microfiber pad.
The cleaning path is just as wide as its predecessors, and all three models use a water filter to reduce scale. On a side note, one thing I liked about the T3 was with the shape of its cleaning head, the drawstring cloth of the T1 fits the new T3. Personally, I've tested and used several models with the microfiber pad and have always been partial to the cloths. They absorb better and seem to pick up debris more effectively than the pads.
If you're looking for an inexpensive steam mop that can provide you deep cleaning, scrubbing ability on tile and grout while sanitizing on across all smooth flooring types (and even freshen carpet), the new Reliable T3 PRO Steamboy is well worth considering.
To see all the unique features of the T3 Steam Mop or to view all Reliable Steam Cleaners.
Author: K. Gilmore
Author: K. Gilmore
Over the last year or two, researchers have paid closer attention to the microbes living on and in us, and how these things can dramatically affect our lives, particularly when it comes to immune responses. Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, new research suggests an interesting link between exposure to dog-associated house dust and the subsequent development of allergic diseases like asthma and allergies, and interestingly enough, at the middle of this research is a very specific type of gut bacteria, Lactobacillus johnsonii.
During the our first few years of life, we begin to develop a very diverse microbiome of bacteria (think of a microbiome as a community of bacteria living inside your gastrointestinal system), and from immune responses to metabolism, these tiny inhabitants are proving to be critical in the development of allergic disease. In this instance, researchers tested dog-associated dust exposure as well as simple supplementation of Lactobacillus johnsonii into the gut.
When exposed to the "dog dust", the pre-adult mice showed less response to an airway allergen challenge, fewer activated T cells and reduced Th2 cytokine expression, all key indicators of allergic response. For another set of mice who weren't exposed to the dust, but instead had the numbers of Lactobacillus johnsonii in their gastrointestinal system supplemented orally (think - they gave the mice a Lactobacillus johnsonii probiotic), similar but not as strong results appeared. This second set of mice showed that while increased number of the Lactobacillus johnsonii bacteria in the gut did correlate with fewer allergic reactions and less allergic response, this correlation was much stronger in the mice who were exposed to dog-associated house dust. This seems to show that while that specific microorganism is helpful, a greater diversity in the microbiome also plays a role in immune system development and protection against allergic disease.
The results are just another step in process of unraveling allergic disease, but is a truly critical one for two reasons. First, researchers were able to identify a very specific microorganism that shows a strong link to preventing the development of allergic disease. Secondly, the "dog dust" shows that not only did it lead to increased level of this beneficial microorganism but also helped promote a more diverse array of microbes living in the intestinal system, and that as other research has suggested, this variety is also import in preventing the development of allergic disease.
Undoubtedly, more attention and research will continue, and maybe soon, the link between allergic disease and the tiny microbes around us can become clear enough to begin devising ways to actually reduce the chances of children developing asthma and allergies in the first place! Wouldn't that be something?br>
To read the full PDF of the research or for more condensed abstract.
On a side note, I discovered, Nestle (the food company, which consequently has a research facility in Switzerland) is responsible for the genetic sequencing of this bacterium, Lactobacillus johnsonii and uses it in some of its probiotic products.
Author: K. Gilmore
Most basically, COPD is two-sided coin of reduced lung function that is most often typified by chronic inflammation of the airways (chronic bronchitis) which causes overproduction of mucus and subsequent blockage of the airways. The other side of this is the destruction of the alveoli the lungs, emphysema. If you remember your high school biology, alveoli are the tiny little balloons or air sacs where the actual gas exchange (swapping of oxygen and carbon dioxide) takes place. For people coping with COPD, these two things often go hand in hand.
In either condition, the result is "chronic obstruction" which reduces lung capacity. Inflammation and mucus blocks the airways or the alveoli are damaged and cannot function properly, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.
The difficulty in breathing may sound familiar to many of you. If you have asthma or even certain allergies, this is an all too familiar symptom. Another similarity, though, is the root cause. Both asthma and allergies appear to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors where genes predispose you to these conditions, and environmental factors may ultimately trigger them, or at the least, exacerbate them. COPD is most often caused by smoking, but research shows that long term exposure to air pollutants, chemicals and even dust can contribute to this disease.
Unlike asthma or allergies though, COPD is progressive and isn't something that can be cured or outgrown. Unfortunately the best case scenario for people dealing with COPD is to manage and slow the disease as much was possible. This is where an air purifier may help.
In addition to medication, there are a few things that your doctor may prescribe to help people coping with COPD. In more severe cases, oxygen is a route that is often taken. In less advanced stages of the disease, an oxygen concentrator may also be used. In either case these are things are use primarily at night, while you sleep. They increase the percentage of oxygen that is in the air you breathe. Typically oxygen only makes up a small amount of the actual air entering your lungs, but with higher concentrations of oxygen, it becomes easier for people with COPD to breathe. Many times when you first begin using oxygen or a concentrator, you might notice a big difference in how you feel during the day. Getting sufficient oxygen while you sleep is crucial for your health, and many will feel more energetic, less lethargic and better overall when they begin use of oxygen or a concentrator.
Second, doctors often advise you to limit your exposure to pollutants in the air that can aggravate COPD. From dust and pollen to paint fumes and chemical vapors, a wide variety of particulate can inflame airways and worsen breathing conditions. HEPA air purifiers help to reduce these things by filtering out these pollutants, both particulate and chemical vapors. Keeping your house clean and reducing dust are also basic but helpful measures that can help anyone coping with COPD.
COPD is something that personally affects me. My father was diagnosed with COPD less than a year ago. For years he smoked AND struggled with asthma. To make matters worse, he spent a great deal of time working on our family farm, in the dusty hayfields or barn. And on top of all of that, he has worked for nearly two decades at a place where clay dust and silica sand are used prolifically.
A few years back, I got an inexpensive Honeywell air purifier that a customer had returned. My mother placed it in the living room, and ever since dad often spends nights sleeping beside it on the couch. (And no, it's not because he doesn't want to share a bed with my mother. I would think six kids is enough evidence contrary to that! She often works nights, so many times he'll sleep on the couch.) One thing that my dad has told me, is that he generally tends to feel better when he sleeps on the couch. Not only does the Honeywell produce white noise to help him sleep but more importantly, it helps to reduce dust and particulate in the air in the living room.
By no means do I think a HEPA air purifier is a cure, but for many people, they can help with COPD. And truthfully, many of the products we make and offer can help in that regard. The focus of our products is to better control the environment around you. Things like air purifiers and allergy bedding do just that, by filtering our pollutants or keeping them out of the air you breathe in the first place.
For more information on COPD, consult your local physician or you can find a variety of solid information at the Center for Disease Control or National Institute of Health's websites.
Author: K. Gilmore
And just a reminder, with the holiday season upon us, keep in mind shipping times if you are wanting your order to arrive before the 25th. Standard deliveries, if ordered by Dec. 16th-19th should arrive before Christmas. This will vary a bit depending on your specific location. Expedited deliveries (1-2) day, can be ordered as late as the 19th and arrive on time. Of course, all of this is weather dependent, and we all know, the weather in much of the country hasn't been the most cooperative this past week.
Author: K. Gilmore