AchooAllergy.com Blog

Asthma


Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 01, 2014
Being an Ohio native, though admittedly not a big Bengals fan, I found the recent Geico ad featuring Ickey Woods hilarious. I watched Woods run the ball for years with the Bengals, but seeing him do his "Ickey Shuffle" then spike a package of cold cuts at the deli counter cracked me up. Though humorous, the ad has given Woods a new avenue to promote a cause that effected him very personally - asthma.

The Jovante Woods FoundationIn 2010 his son, Jovante, died of a severe asthma attack. A student athlete who was just 16 years old at the time, Jovante had been diagnosed with asthma at the age of two. In honor of his son, Woods started the Jovante Wood Foundation based on three things that came to define his son. In addition to asthma awareness, the other two keys of the foundation are organ donation and education. Unaware at the time, Jovante had actually signed up to be an organ donor, which at the time of his passing helped to save the lives of others. And, while he played football like his father, Jovante was also an A student, maintaining a 3.8 GPA in high school.

Asthma affects roughly 25 million Americans and causes nearly two million visits to emergency rooms across the country each year. While mortality rates remain relatively low, about ten people per day die from asthma attacks. What is likely most troubling is that, according to the Center for Disease Control, asthma rates have been trending up, from affecting 1:14 in 2001 to 1:12 in 2009.

Though asthma can be managed, there are a variety of factors that can effect asthma outcomes, from environmental issues and exercise to proper prescriptions and avoidance of triggers. For many, WellaPets - Asthma Education App for Kidseducation remains a key factor, which is why things like the Woods Foundation and another initiatives (even apps/games like the WellaPets we mentioned a while ago) remain important. In an interview with a local ABC affiliate in Woods' hometown of Fresno, he mentions one thing that he "didn't know is that asthma could kill." He's not alone. When it comes to asthma so many of us have a similar mindset, in that asthma has become so common, we can sometimes lose sight of just how powerful it can be.

Ickey Woods' NFL career was cut short because of injury, but he continues to use that brief time in his life to promote a cause that effects millions across the country. Woods was ecstatic to have his number called (number 44) at the deli counter, but he was still wearing his old Bengals number on his t-shirt, #30.

For more information on the Jovante Wood Foundation. If you've got a Bengals or Ickey Woods fan in the family, you can pick up some autographed Bengals swag, and the money goes towards the scholarships that the foundation funds as well as asthma research and organ donation.

Watch Ickey Shuffle at the Deli Counter

Author: K. Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Late last week many of you likely came across a story about Enterovirus D68 and how it is affecting school children in states across the middle of the U.S. I have to admit, I am a bit behind on this topic, but not having children is the likely reason for me to have missed it (well that and the fact that I average less than eight hours of television per week). Latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates confirm a total of just over 100 cases spread across ten states, with that estimate likely being a bit low due to confirmation process. What struck me about this virus were two things. First, I haven't heard of this before, and secondly, it seems to affecting children with asthma at a greater rate and more severely than other children. What is an enterovirus, and how is it spread? More importantly, what can children and adults do to help lessen the spread of this virus?

An enterovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus that is part of a genus containing twelve different species of viruses. Within each species, though, there can be a wide variety of serotypes (variations), but all have high mutation rates. In this case, the name "enterovirus D68" represents the variant of this particular genus of viruses, the 68th. Overall, this genus of virus actually contains some of the worst offenders when it comes to humans, both in severity (polio to hepatitis A) and in breadth of contagion (common cold - the Rhinovirus).

The CDC estimates that 10 to 15 million people each year are infected with the enterovirus, but with majority of these being the rhinovirus (common cold), this statistic is generally one that does not raise concern. What is raising concern is the spread of enterovirus D68, and this is for two reasons.

First, while we first discovered this particular serotype decades ago, it has not been commonly occurring. More importantly, it appears to disproportionately affect those with asthma. Those with asthma or other respiratory conditions are generally more prone to suffer more severe effects from external factors, not only viruses but also pollen and smoke. Smoke makes me cough, but if you have asthma, smoke can cause wheezing or an asthma attack.

A similar situation is what parents are seeing with this virus. While many likely shrug it off as the common cold or flu, CDC Chart of States Reporting Enterovirus D68 Caseswith the child exhibiting symptoms that are most akin to a cold or allergies, children with asthma may experience trouble breathing or wheezing. This is when parents are suggested to act. And recently, they have been.

Overall the scope of the virus is likely underestimated since many will see less severe symptoms, not enough to seek medical treatment. Hospitals and labs aren't likely reporting the full scope since the virus isn't one that is required to be tested for by the CDC. However, the image to the right shows the states reporting infections as of Monday with the lower image showing states reporting as of today. Yes, it is spreading, much like the common cold and flu does each year, and currently health officials are expecting this trend to increase before it finally tapers off with the onset of winter.

What do you do? The main concern right now seems to be with children with asthma. Touch base with your primary care provider and keep in mind what to do if your child is experiencing labored or troubled breathing or wheezing. Milder symptoms are going to be most common amongst children in general and like the cold, with plenty of fluids and rest, they will run their course with little worry. For more severe cases, supportive care is really the most that can be done. Medications to relax airways and supplemental oxygen are most common with the most critical needing ventilators.

In general, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, enterovirus D68 is making a lot of headlines, but it is generally a mild virus that acts much like the common cold. While all parents will want to be watchful of their children and symptoms, asthmatics are most at risk. Lastly, like the common cold, there is no vaccine or treatment beyond supportive care, so prevention techniques, like frequent hand washing and sanitizing surfaces are important things to keep in mind.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, July 17, 2014
Back in 2012, I highlighted a study that was presented at the European Respiratory Society conference that focused on the link between the use of common asthma treatments and a child's height. In this study, researchers examined the use of budesonide, a corticosteroid that is the active ingredient in Pulmicort, a commonly prescribed asthma medication. This morning, two new studies were released that further the correlation between lower growth velocity and the use of corticosteroids.

Inhaled Corticosteroids - Dosage Effects Child GrowthCorticosteroids are commonly prescribed for persistent, moderate to severe asthma. Often inhaled, this type of drug is used to prevent asthma attacks. While the previous study focused on one particular corticosteroid, these latest studies expanded that to include six and five, respectively, different types of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) drugs.

In the first study, six ICS and 25 trials involving nearly 8500 children were reviewed. Over the course of a year, there was about a .5 cm difference in growth between children who used ICS and those who used placebos or non-steroidal drugs. This review suggests much the same as the one mentioned in 2012, that though small, there is some reduction in growth velocity and overall height associated with the use of ICS. And again now, as then, the lead author of this most recent review suggests that the benefits of using ICS to control moderate to severe asthma outweighs this minimal, but significant, reduction in growth velocity.Inhaled Corticosteroids Effect Child's Height

In the second study, 22 trials were reviewed, with the main focus being the effect of low to medium doses on ICS on growth velocity. While the information collected was incomplete in the majority of the trails examined, a correlation between growth velocity and the amount of ICS administered was observed. Simply put, those with low dose ICS treatments experienced a smaller reduction in growth velocity than those who were treated with larger doses of ICS.

Overall, both studies highlight two points and further refine previous research. First, inhaled corticosteroids do have an impact on height/growth velocity. This is not limited to a particular type of corticosteroid and appears with many of the most common ones. Second, higher doses of ICS correlate with less growth. The smaller the dose, the less the effect on a child's height. Again though, it's worth repeating that they're not talking a major reduction in height, fractions of a centimeter annually. Most professionals who have either conducted these studies or have read them still agree that the benefits of ICS in controlling moderate to severe asthma outweigh this small reduction in height.

Studies like these are important for a few reasons. They highlight a potential side effect that has been previously not known or often discussed. It is also good to remember that these studies show results that effect more than just those who are coping with asthma. Some of the drugs used in the studies were beclomethasone dipropionate, budesonide, ciclesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone propionate and mometasone fumarate. These are the active ingredients used in common asthma AND allergy medications like
  • Symbicort
  • Pulmicort
  • Elocon
  • Flonase
  • Veramyst
  • Alvesco
  • Omnaris
  • Omnair
They also highlight the importance of what we do here at AchooAllergy. If blocking dust mites in your bedding or replacing carpet with hard flooring or using a high quality, HEPA air purifier reduces irritants in the home, the net benefit may likely be less reliance on medication and a lower risk of having to deal with the side effects. If your child has been diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma and inhaled corticosteroids are recommended, you should have a discussion with your doctor, and as is often the case with medication, the lowest dose that provides relief is the best dose.

To read more about the larger study of ICS on growth rates or the study of ICS doses and growth rates.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MDWe are constantly trying to bring you the most up-to-date and relevant information available. To help in doing so, we've begunn partnering with board certified doctors to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about allergies and asthma.

With our first set of questions, I'd like to introduce Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MD.

Travel Allergy Tips?

How can I keep my allergies in check when traveling to countries where I might be exposed to trees/plants that I've never encountered before?

- submitted by TravelBug

Traveling out of the country or even other parts of our country can be challenging for people who suffer from environmental allergies. There is no easy way to predict how a foreign allergen will impact the allergic individual. Factors that can impact include previous exposure, the amount, and duration of exposure. Often allergy sufferers who have not have had previous exposure will be less affected by a new environment.

The keys to travel success are to ensure that your baseline allergic condition is being maximally treated and controlled prior to your travels and to have a treatment plan going forward. Being prepared to travel means knowing the predominant allergen that you will be exposed to {endemic pollens, animal dander, mold, etc.} and having backup measures to initiate if symptoms escalate. This includes avoidance measures (as best as possible) and additional medications such as antihistamines and/or decongestants for symptomatic control if needed. In extreme cases traveling with a low dose oral steroid and/or a rescue inhaler may be warranted based on the person's allergic history.

Finally, Individualizing a treatment plan with your Allergist or PCP is always a good idea before traveling. Remember the phrase "Fail to prepare...prepare to fail"

Keeping Your Child Active with Asthma?

Any advice on how to keep my asthmatic son active but safe during the spring and summer?

- submitted by Marietta, OH Mom

Every asthmatic is different but typically the summer and particularly the spring can be challenging. Our goal is always shooting for maximum control where the asthmatic patient essentially normalizes and can do anything a non-asthmatic can do. Typically this Playing & Exercise with Asthmacan be obtained to some degree with preventative allergy and asthma treatment.

If your child does have pollen sensitivity in the spring and summer it's best to do most activity outside in the early morning or late afternoon when pollen counts are down and temperatures are cooler. Be aware of the air quality and limit outside activities during poor air quality days. If your child struggles with allergy and asthma despite these measures, a reassessment of their maintenance allergy and asthma treatment is indicated and consideration for allergen desensitization "shots" should be discussed with your local allergist.

Do you have questions you would like answered? Submit them to us via the FAQ form on every product page, email them using blog@achooallergy.com, send them to us via our live chat or send us something via snail mail. The most relevant and intriguing we'll select to be answered.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by Kevvyg on Friday, February 28, 2014
Challenges of Running with AsthmaI guess I would call myself a seasonal runner. During the winter, if I can’t get out to a trail or parkway, then I usually can find no reason for me to run on slick sidewalks surrounded by muddy snow. But now, in between the crazy snow/ice days we’ve been having here in Atlanta, I’ve been able to get out and enjoy a nice run in the sunshine.

On a more recent run, it occurred to me that there must be runners with asthma. But how do they manage it? What happens if they have an asthma attack? Could they run marathons and races or hit the trail for long distance runs?

Most of us are familiar with the common causes of asthma attacks, tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust mites, mold, cockroach allergens, or pets. However, exercise-induced asthma is triggered by physical exertion and is a common cause that might seem counterintuitive to some, particularly since severe asthma can often limit physical activity. The severity of exercise-induced asthma attacks can be affected by many factors including overall health, medication taken (or not taken), how long you are exercising, and the environment (temperature, pollution, etc.).

To better understand how asthma affects an active person’s lifestyle, I spoke to Ali McDonald, co-owner of AchooAllergy.com, and Christina Kenney a current student at Kent State University and past cross country and track runner. Both are currently active runners with asthma.

Ali M.Ali McDonald - Asthma  & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since I was five. I’ve always loved running!

Do you run 5Ks, marathons, races?
No, I run for exercise- 3-5 miles, a few days a week.

What triggers your asthma attacks?
My asthma attacks are triggered by pollen, but mostly cold weather induced.

What happens when you start to have an asthma attack?
I can’t get a breath when it does happen. You can’t get a full breath in, it’s shortened… like when you exercise really hard, and you try to slow your heart beat down to catch your breath, but you can’t. That’s how I would explain it to people who don’t have asthma.

So do you just slow down, or try to relax yourself? How do you take care of it?
I use my inhaler. It’s the only way, basically.

What about when you’re not running? What do you do if, let’s say, you have an attack while walking around in the park?
Since I have exercise-induced asthma, I don’t generally have asthma attacks when I’m not running. But if I do feel a shortness of breath, or anything like that, I take my time, slow down and focus on slowing down my heart rate.

What’s the perfect run for you?-Perfect weather, inclines?
When the temperature gets below 32° C it becomes difficult to run, so between 50° and 60° is great, and without seasonal allergens. Inclines don’t affect me so much as temperature.

What sports did you do when you were younger?
I was a gymnast and I did cheerleading. I never had asthma attacks in gymnastics, and in cheerleading there were enough breaks in between that it really didn’t affect my asthma.

Do you have any advice for those with asthma who may want to start running?
Carry your inhaler. It can be scary to have it in your car a few miles away, while you’re having an attack. And avoid exercising in situations where you’ll be affected by triggers like ragweed and pollen.

Christina K.Christina K. - Asthma & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since freshman year of high school, so about 6 years ago.

Did you start running for sports?
I started with track then cross country.

Have you always had asthma?
Yeah, it was much more severe when I was little. I had to take treatments three times a day, breathing treatments with a nebulizer from the time I was a baby until I was old enough and switched over to a once-a-day preventative pill.

When did you decide to start running?
As I got older it wasn’t as severe, then one day in gym we had to run a mile. Everyone hated it, but I wanted to push myself so I ran as hard as I could and beat everyone. The gym coach said I should try out for track after that. She said that there were plenty of runners with asthma that could run.

What happens when you start to an asthma attack while running? How do you feel, what are the symptoms and how do you take care of it?
I slow down a lot, sometimes walk, with my hands on my head. It was really hard at first when I started running- I started as the slowest one. When the weather is cold, it stings a lot and burns. It’s a harsh feeling. In warmer weather, I can’t breathe and I have a heavy weight on my chest. When it is cold out, I take my inhaler before my run to try to prevent it, but if I don’t take it before I have to use it during and after my run.

Describe the perfect run for you- the weather, incline, no incline, etc.
I’d say like… 60°, 70° degree weather.

What advice do you have for running with asthma?
Definitely don’t get discouraged just because of asthma. I went from the slowest distance runner in freshman year to one of the fastest on varsity. Get used to it, and carry an inhaler. It’ll be hard at first, but as you go running gets easier. It’ll even improve your asthma.

Why do you think that?
Because it helps you out, makes your lungs get stronger. Running gets easier, you just have to get used to it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d also tell people wanting to distance run, with asthma, to be diligent. Try not to take a really long hiatus from running if they enjoy what they get out of it. It takes a good amount of time and perseverance to get back in shape as an asthmatic. Not only are you getting your muscles back in shape but you're also building your lung capacity.

Before interviewing Ali and Christina, I thought asthma was just a general respiratory ailment. But it was a nice surprise to see a contrast in exercise induced asthma and regular asthma. I learned that cold weather is not a good running partner while inhalers are, and as Theodore Roosevelt promoted, running could actually be beneficial for asthma. Thank you ladies!

Author: R. Power

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yesterday, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted not to recommend Primatene HFA for over-the-counter sale. This is the latest in the attempt to bring a bronchodilator back to the over-the-counter market. There were two additional votes on the drug, and the mixed results could be reason for hope in seeing a new bronchodilator on the market in the future.

Primatene Mist - OTC BronchodilatorMany of you may recall seeing Primatene Mist on drugstore and market shelves when you were younger. For me, it was a common occurrence as my cousin, who suffers from severe asthma, would often have this inhaler with him. After spending time in the backyard with my cousins and brothers playing football, he would pull out his inhaler, flip the top and use it if his asthma flared up.

In 2011 Primatene Mist was phased out and removed from store shelves. These pocket-sized inhalers used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the epinephrine out and into the lungs of the asthma sufferer. As part of an overall move away from CFC-based propellants, the axe finally fell on Primatene Mist in December of that year. Since then, the manufacturer, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, has been attempting to gain OTC status for a replacement inhaler, the short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) bronchodilator, Primatene HFA. Currently, the only forms of this type of drug available are prescribed. If you have asthma, you might be familiar with their names, albuterol and levalbuterol. However, there is some need for an OTC alternative, particularly in case of emergencies or when people run out of their prescription at inopportune times.

In addition to ultimately voting no to OTC use, the 25 member advisory panel also voted on the efficacy and safety of the new inhaler. While there is still another ongoing clinical trial, the panel discussed the results of two other clinical trials that showed significant results. On a vote over the efficacy, 14 yes votes won out.

Lastly, the panel discussed and voted on the safety of the proposed drug. Like most drugs, Primatene HFA did show some side effects, though even with the most severe side effect being tremors, all cases were mild. Other side effects were infrequent. A larger safety issue was likely found in the correct use of the inhaler. While the new inhaler uses an ozone-friendly propellant, the new formula is a suspension that can settle. Consequently, the inhaler must be primed four times before the first use and twice after two weeks of nonuse. It must also be washed and dried each day, and both of these present significant hurdles when it comes to ease-of-use and proper use. With regard to labeling, some members felt that patients may be led to believe that it is for daily use when only actually intended for intermittent use. All of these things resulted in 17 panel members voting no, in terms of safety.

The end result, for now, is that the new Primatene HFA will not be in pharmacy and store shelves any time soon, but the drug does show promise. It does work, and there is a need for it. Undoubtedly, Armstrong will revisit the inhaler and attempt to address issues of misuse or mishandling.

Author: K. Gilmore

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Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, January 23, 2014
Tax Deductible Home Renovations Are Nothing to Sneeze At!As if we all needed a reminder, tax time is just around the corner! Time to dig up all those receipts and schedule an appointment with your local CPA or tax preparer. Even through the interwebs, I can tell you're just as excited about this as I am!

On a serious note, this time of year is perfect for looking at how making a change around your house just might something that can help you with your taxes. If you have allergies, asthma or more severe respiratory disease, a doctor's prescription might be just what you needed to lower your bill with Uncle Sam. How you ask? Check out this article that I put together after speaking with a CPA in the local Atlanta area and see how your home renovation for allergies or asthma might be tax deductible.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 30, 2013
WellaPets - Kids Games About AsthmaAre you the parent of a child with asthma? Would you be interested in trying a new app/game that is not only entertaining for your child but also teaches them about asthma triggers, treatment and how to better manage asthma? In development by LifeGuard Games, there is a fun, new app that needs your input - WellaPets.

You start by creating a virtual pet, and in this case, a tiny fire-breathing dragon. But here's the catch. Your little dragon has asthma and can't breathe fire like the other dragons, at least, not initially. The game takes you through a series of challenges and a variety of mini-games that teach your child not only some tips for controlling your pet's asthma, like through the use of an inhaler, but also points out triggers throughout the home that can aggravate your dragon's asthma. So with the virtual pet, your child can learn, explore, and interact, all while managing a pet with the player's chronic condition - asthma.

Screen Shot of WellaPetsThough game is fun and interactive, the educational aspects are blended in and help reinforce general knowledge about asthma but also focus on themes like self-efficacy (taking control of and managing your condition) and communication with parents.

There is science behind this, and research about similar games for children and young adults coping with diabetes and even cancer have shown positive results.

So if you have a young child dealing with asthma and would like to help by trying the game and giving some feedback, there's just three easy steps.
  1. Sign up here
  2. After you've signed up, use the mobile device that you want to play on (ie. iPad) and visit TestFlight to complete the process
  3. Play the game for two weeks and fill out the survey when you're finished!
This week you can complete steps 1 and 2. The game and survey questions will be sent out very soon (first week in January).

For more information about WellaPets.

Author: KevvyG

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, December 19, 2013
Owning a dog changes a lot of things for people, but one thing you might not think about is how it changes the dust inside your home. It's true, the composition of the dust in dog owner's home is actually different than that of the dust found in a pet-free home, and researchers believe that exposure to this "dog dust" may actually reduce the development of allergies and asthma in children. Could it be that dogs are proving themselves to be "man's best friend" all over again? And if so, how?

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.

Lactobacillus johnsonii - Key to Asthma and Allergies?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

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 16, 2013
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is one of the most common respiratory disorders affecting people today. It is a generalized term that many people recall wasn't often spoken ten to fifteen years ago. In the past, you were more likely to hear emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but COPD has become a catch-all for both of these. What is COPD, how does it relate to allergic disease, and can an air purifier actually help?

COPD Lung Function Diagram - NiHMost 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.

The Honeywell 50150 HEPA Air PurifierA 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

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