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Our Newsletter

Do you want to control your asthma?

Are you doing everything you can to control your asthma?
Take this quiz and find out

True or false?

1. Asthma attacks can be triggered by changes in the weather.

Correct answer: true
Certain weather conditions can increase the risk of an asthma attack, including thunderstorms, strong winds, temperatures, fog, and humidity. If you know what weather conditions bother your asthma you can plan ahead.

2. High humidity in your home will reduce your risk of an asthma attack.

Correct answer: False
Low humidity may help reduce your risk of an asthma attack. It is strongly advised to keep the humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent in your home. High humidity can promote mold growth and dust mites, which may trigger an asthma attack. The use of an air conditioner or air dehumidifier might be helpful.

3. Asthma attacks always come unannounced.

Correct answer: False
Most asthma attacks come with warning signs and symptoms. Being familiar with the warning signs of an asthma attack helps to understand when you should seek treatment.
Warning signs may include:

  • Increased shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Increased use of bronchodilators - medications that open up airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles
  • A common cold may precede increased asthma symptoms by one or two days.

4. Avoiding triggers is the only option for keeping asthma under control.

Correct answer: False
Avoiding triggers is sometimes impossible. Avoiding what triggers your asthma is the best way to prevent attacks, but if that`s not possible, here are some things to try.

  • Limit exposure. Sometimes being around what triggers your asthma may be tolerable if the exposure is minimal.
  • Ask your doctor about medications you can take before you are exposed to asthma triggers. This helps you plan ahead and to minimize symptoms.

5. Cleaning your house can trigger your asthma.

Correct answer: True
Yes, but this does not mean that you should stop cleaning. A clean living environment can help control asthma symptoms. Strong odors and chemicals found in cleaning supplies may trigger asthma. Use unscented and nonaerosol cleaners. If they seem to irritate your asthma get help with cleaning. Have someone else vacuum for you if dust triggers your asthma.

6. Avoid exercise if it triggers your asthma.

Correct answer: False
Exercise is one trigger that you don`t want to avoid completely. Asthma symptoms may be reduced during exercise by slowly warming up and taking medications before you begin, especially in colder weather. Check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program if you don`t exercise regularly.

7. You can control your asthma by controlling the stress in your life.

Correct answer: True
Yes, stress can trigger asthma. But in today`s fast-paced world, stress may be unavoidable. Try a massage, a yoga class, exercise or meditation to relax. Remember to take time for yourself.

Eating Right: Tips for the COPD patient

For people suffering with a lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, eating should not be taken for granted.

According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, a well-nourished body helps fight off infections and may help prevent illness, thus cutting down on hospitalizations.

A proper diet will not cure your disease, but it will make you feel better. You will have more energy, and your body will be able to fight infection better. Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential to everyone`s health, but patients with lung disease must be even more careful than most about following good nutrition guidelines.

Food is fuel and the body needs fuel for activities, including breathing. Because the COPD uses a lot of energy just breathing, ventilatory muscles can require up to ten times the calories required by a healthy person`s muscles. This is why it is so important for someone with COPD to eat properly. Good nutritional support helps maintain the ventilatory functions of the lungs, while lack of proper nutrition can cause wasting of the diaphragm and other pulmonary muscles.

The American Association for Respiratory Care offers nutrition tips for persons with COPD. These are general guidelines only. Your doctor is your best source of information on diet and other information about your lung disease.

  • Select foods from each of the basic food groups to include fruits & vegetables, dairy products, cereal & grains, and proteins.
  • Limit salt intake. Too much sodium can cause fluid retention that could interfere with breathing.
  • Limit drinks that contain Caffeine. Caffeine might interfere with some of your medications and may cause nervousness.
  • Avoid gas-producing foods that make you feel bloated.
  • Eat your main meal early to provide lots of energy to carry you through the day.
  • Choose easy preparation foods. Rest before eating so that you can enjoy your meal.
  • Avoid foods that provide little or no nutritional value.
  • Try eating six smaller meals a day instead of three big ones. This will keep you from filling up your stomach and causing shortness of breath.
  • Eating and digestion require energy, and this causes your body to use more oxygen. Be sure to wear your cannula while eating - and after meals, too.
  • Eat in a relaxed atmosphere. Try making meals attractive and enjoyable.

If meal preparation becomes a burden, there are agencies in many states that will provide meals for people for a small fee or at no charge. Seek local church organizations or government agencies to see what is available in your area.

Source: American Association for Respiratory Care

Do you have obstructive sleep apnea?

Do You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Do family members tell you that you snore? If so, it may be possible that you are suffering from sleep apnea.

According to respiratory therapists from the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), there are several clues that can help you decide whether or not to seek testing for sleep apnea.

Do you experience sleepiness during the day?

People with sleep apnea wake up a lot at night, usually without even knowing it. Many suffer from daytime drowsiness as a result.

A bed partner reports brief periods of no breathing: If your bed partner notices you stopping breathing for even few seconds at a time during the night, you may have sleep apnea.

Very loud snoring: Lots of people snore, but people with sleep apnea usually snore consistently throughout the night and their snoring is extremely loud.

Struggling, snorting, gasping, choking, or partially or completely waking up in an attempt to resume breathing: If your sleep is repeatedly disrupted by these occurrences, sleep testing is in order.

Waking up with a dry mouth and/or morning headache: A dry mouth may mean you`ve been gasping for breath, and a headache signals a poor night`s rest.

Learn more about sleep apnea and respiratory care on the AARC`s consumer web site.

Asthma and allergy tips for the home

One very important aspect in asthma and allergy care is controlling your home environment. Here are some general rules to help get your household under control:

  • Begin by removing or reducing as many asthma and allergy triggers from your home as possible.
  • Use air filters and air conditioners to make your home cleaner and more comfortable. Proper regular maintenance is essential.
  • Do you have a dust mite problem? Work hard to control this problem especially in the bedroom.
  • Check out your vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners with poor design and filter system release and stir up dust and allergens. Select a vacuum with high-efficiency filters such as micro filter or HEPA media, good suction, and sealed construction. As an option, consider a central vacuum system.

Source: American Lung Association

Travel tips with oxygen

Just because you use oxygen doesn`t mean that you can`t travel. It does mean, however, that you have to plan ahead. Changes in time zones and increased activity are things that need to be taken into consideration. Here is a checklist to help you prepare for the next time that you travel.

  • Did you ask your doctor about traveling?

Especially if you have been hospitalized recently, check with your doctor for travel clearance.

  • Have you completed the necessary paperwork to travel? A letter from your health care provider that verifies all of your medications, including oxygen, may be needed.
  • Do you have a copy of your oxygen prescription? You will need to show your prescription to travel personnel, so be sure to carry the prescription with you.
  • Do you have the name and phone number of the following health care professionals with you: your doctor, your respiratory therapist, your oxygen supplier and home health care company representative?
  • Do you have enough medication to last the entire trip? Remember to pack all medication and supplies in your carry-on bag. Keep a list of current medications with you at all times.
  • Do you have emergency medical identification to wear?

Below are additional tips for travelers on oxygen therapy:

  • Contact your home health care company and tell them where you are going and how you are getting there. They can assist you in arranging for oxygen when you reach your travel destination.
  • Be sure that you know how to use your portable oxygen system and know how long your oxygen will last. Check ahead to see if oxygen refills will be needed to complete your trip.
  • Did you contact your travel carrier (airline, cruise ship, bus) before departure? Be sure to ask if there will be a fee related to oxygen use.
  • Check with your health care provider if you have further questions.

Traveling by air:

  • Contact the airline several weeks ahead to obtain their policy and make arrangements. The airline may require a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before boarding the airplane you will need to leave your own portable oxygen tank at the gate. Make advance arrangements to leave your portable unit with a family member or plan to have your oxygen supplier pick up the unit at the airport.
  • You will not be able to use your own oxygen on the airplane.
  • Arrange for oxygen during layovers and when you arrive at your destination. Direct flights are recommended whenever possible.

Traveling by car:

  • No smoking should be allowed in the car.
  • Crack the car window open a bit.
  • Place the oxygen unit upright on the seat next to you. Secure the oxygen with a seat belt. Put the extra oxygen units flat on the floor next to the seat.

Traveling by bus or train:

  • Contact the local terminal management a few weeks before your scheduled departure.
  • Tell the management that you are traveling with oxygen and ask to be seated in a non-smoking area. You will probably be able to take your own oxygen on board.

Traveling on a cruise ship:

Call the cruise line approximately 4 to 6 weeks before departure

  • The cruise line will need a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before you depart, make arrangements to have your oxygen units delivered directly to the cruise ship.