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COPD

Why a holiday should be a holiday

Loving one’s self can be a full time job. And in those daily thoughts to yourself, you may always be thinking, what should I be doing right now and what should I do next?

The mind is always pushing itself to fulfil your heart’s desires and to make you happy. And having just come back from a 10 day ‘annual leave’, there were times I’d ‘quickly’ log on to my work emails just to ‘keep up with what’s happening’ and not ‘miss anything important’. I felt the pressure to always be available and wanted to present myself professionally,  in a way that others would view me as forever reliable and hard-working. Especially as a remote worker (more on this in another post). And I felt guilty for not writing a post on this in just over a month.

But it was a battle between, keep yourself switched on and brain wired for healthy stimulation and sanity vs full rest and recovery for health and relaxation.

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Probiotics the antidote to antibiotics?

Anyone with COPD or any other chronic condition for that matter will fully understand and appreciate that your body can go through HELL when you’re on a million medications daily.

Undoubtedly, with pills and tablets manipulating how your body works on a cellular level and messing with your hormones for example, things will naturally be knocked out of balance.

For me in particular, I’ve been on over 25 weeks of antibiotics this year alone and take one daily as a preventative measure to protect my lungs from bad bacteria. This itself is insane and scary when I say it out loud. Especially in the age, where there is heavy promotion about the unnecessary issue and overuse of antibiotics. That said, I tried the whole ‘anti’ antibiotics stance earlier this year and I ended up in hospital twice for coughing up lots of blood.

This has had its consequences for sure, as whilst the daily antibiotic for me is an ‘essential’ for my lungs , it also stripped away the good bacteria in my body as well as the bad bacteria. As a result, my immune system became weaker and it seems to be the cause of another major problem that I kept getting and where I had already been operated on in 2015.

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Top exercises for lung disease sufferers

I appreciate that the last thing one who suffers a chronic disease, wants to do, is to engage in anything that gets them out of breath.

And there’s a big ‘BUT’ coming… which is the reason why this could be dangerous to do so. In a previous post I’ve written before on breathing , it explores the idea that, if you don’t exercise,  your muscles will weaken and in turn requires more oxygen, putting more pressure on your body.

Overall, NOT exercising can weaken your immune system and ability to remain strong, agile and flexible as well as having less control over your breathing.

Coming from a person who was very active prior to my symptoms and initial diagnosis, I found it hard to adjust and find a good balance for what ideal exercise was. I was either all or nothing. In the beginning,  I was scared to even do anything and as a result of anxiety, I halted all activities. This wasn’t healthy either and it meant I didn’t have an outlet to rid of stress or toxins, so I was in horrid place.

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Red date benefits for lung disease sufferers

A date away from better immunity!

Since my discharge from hospital last month, I’ve been lucky enough to have Chinese relatives that will go to the ends of the earth for me.

What they have kindly done, is introduce me to even more of the finest Hong Kong has to offer, in terms of superfoods and natural well-being.

One of the main things I have been consuming are Red dates. The Chinese call them the ‘King of Nuts’ and are typically used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

And I’m not surprised, as they’re thought to have 80 x higher levels of Vitamin C than, say apples! They are also great for people suffering or recovering from health conditions and boosting immunity.

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World Health Day | Depression: Let’s talk

I wasn’t sure I was the right candidate to broach the subject of depression. Then I read through the symptoms of depression and realised, although many people may or may not have felt the full scale of depression; there’s a high chance the majority could have experienced a variation or touch of depression. Light or severe, the statistics themselves are enough:

More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015 (World Health Organisation statistics 2017)

And actually, my experience with a chronic condition means I, and others like me are prone to depression, because of how debilitating and limiting a severe disease can be.

And boy, do I feel like I’ve been through the wars in the past few weeks. The story I’m about to tell is one that feels like it could be made up and made me laugh and cry at the same time. It made me realise, what I thought was serious already, got even more serious and severe.

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The side effects of medication: what the doctors DON’T tell you

 

When you have a chronic condition, you learn lots about what works and what doesn’t work for your body.

I’ll always be the first to say and constantly remind those that it is a journey where you’ll discover something new every day. But being okay with it, knowing it will indeed be an endless journey, makes it easier to cope with.

Initially I was very disappointed for example, when I first discovered that use of inhalers and corticosteroids were actually one of the main causes of dehydration but also very bad for causing tooth decay!

When they say you learn the tough way, I really did. After not being to the dentist for two years (because I was too busy being hospitalized every month!), I decided that I would pay a long over-due visit when I moved back to Scotland (my home) from London.

It turns out I needed, not one or two fillings or just some standard flossing and polishing. But I needed FOURTEEN fillings. Yes, you read that right. 14.

Suffice to say, I was HORRIFIED. It didn’t make sense. I hardly ate sweets, never drank carbonated drinks and had excellent oral health. But my dentist told me, it’s mostly likely from use of inhalers and nebulizing. It caused an overly dry mouth, which is the optimum breeding ground for bacteria.

It wasn’t the end of the world, but I was devastated that my teeth and gum health was being destroyed in the process of looking after my breathing. As if I need any more worries to think about. I was frustrated that the doctors hadn’t warned me. But then I realised, they are unlikely to be aware of the side effects unless it is more widely reported and/ or every patient is different. This is not to chastise doctors (because actually they do a tremendous job), but rather just to raise awareness.

Regardless, I had the work done, which took several weeks (and quite a bit of money!), and just soldiered on.

I was advised by my dentist to continually drink sips of water all day, especially immediately after I took my medications, inhalers or nebulizers. So that was a big lesson! There was no way I could give up or reduce the level of medication for my COPD as my breathing would suffer and nobody would want that.

Added to that, is the constant tremors and shakiness after taking a nebulizing dose. Funnily enough, whilst I was living in London, I was on it about 6-7 times per day and I think my body got accustomed to it. But after living in Scotland for a year and working from home, I’ve only ever need the nebulizer as and when required (tends to be when I’m ill and feeling very wheezy), so perhaps once or twice a month (which is an amazing improvement!). So when I take them now, I tend to feel like I’ve had about 10 cups of coffee! I don’t think there’s much to be done to resolve this except be aware of it and at least expect it. I’d rather be shaky than not breathe.

Omron nebulizer

I’ve also been lucky enough to be a patient who never suffers nausea, dizziness or have allergies to any medications (but I am resistant to steroids). However, my point is that everyone is indeed different. So as a COPD or chronic illness suffer, I think one of the most important things is to maintain curiosity and ask lots of questions! The other thing is intuition. If a pill or type of medication seems ‘off’ or is making you feel something you shouldn’t, your instincts are probably right and you should consult with your doctor immediately. Intuition is a very powerful thing and it is your emotional guiding system- do not dismiss this!

Sometime, generic solutions just don’t cut it and I believe every individual should have a much more tailored plan and listen to their body.

TLC and self-care are the most important things in the world!

What it’s like to be the partner of a COPD sufferer (Lloyd Ffrench- Guest Post)

LLOYD FFRENCH (Guest post) 

Well firstly, I want to start this by saying by no means am I an expert of COPD or any respiratory condition for that matter, but I wanted to put together a post about what it’s like to be indirectly linked with the condition especially when it concerns a loved one.

When I had first met Kim, she was an incredibly active individual who shared a passion for exercise and routinely went to the gym, yoga, dance classes. This was something we both shared a passion for and in fact I used to use my Virgin guest passes so we could enjoy these activities together. A year or so later, this all dramatically changed when Kim started to really suffer with her breathing and at times I felt helpless as it can be incredibly difficult to see another human being suffer without any ability to help that person, never mind when this person is a loved one.

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Asthma and COPD triggers at home

DR PETER JOYCE FROM ODAIR (Guest post) 

Allergens may take on many guises and for the most part are invisible to the human eye. Sometimes the only indication of their presence is a cough or slight wheezing. Believe it or not it is difficult to concretely distinguish between bronchial asthma and chronic respiratory inflammation caused by living with poor IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). The two are inextricably linked. Asthma is a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental factors.

There have been many studies linking the development of adult asthma to such environmental factors. These causes are in fact a long term exposure to the very same triggers that exasperate symptoms in someone who has already been diagnosed.

Regardless of severity of symptoms it is important to minimise exposure to the triggers on a long term basis. The problem is that the triggers are present in every home in one way or another. They range from pet hair, to dust collecting behind furniture, to mite excrement and mold spores. And that’s just indoors! Pollen, sand dust and pollution can make their way into your home from the outside.

When you are susceptible to these triggers it is important to identify them as soon as possible and to deal with them on a long term basis.

asthma-dust-mites.jpg

Using an air purifier at home can increase the air quality at home tenfold. A high grade HEPA filter normally filters out around 99.97% of particulate matter. This includes pollen, dust mite excrement and mold spores. The important thing to remember is to choose a powerful purifier that can perform several complete air changes in one hour. This means all of the allergens present in the air will collect within the filter. The HEPA filter layer can then be replaced with a fresh one. Running such a filtration system as often as possible has been medically proven to reduce respiratory inflammation.

A quality air purifier will have several other filtration layers within. For example, to deal with complex chemical pollutants and odors, a charcoal layer is used. This clever filter uses Van der Waals molecular forces to permanently eliminate complex allergens. Again, a powerful air flow will capture most pollutants inside the filter.

An intelligent air purifier will use a microcomputer sensor to run the machine in accordance with air quality. Essentially it purifies the air in real time. It adjusts air flow and filtration stages to suit the air quality.

Air purifiers are by no means a cure for asthma, but they do go some way to ensuring a healthy environment at home. They are definitely a good choice people with respiratory conditions.

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When the going gets tough…

Well it goes without saying, if you’re struggling for air or feel like you’re choking, A&E is your first call or 999. That’s common sense. But when it comes to symptoms that are unusual and is not any of the above, yet can still be warranted as serious, I call my specialist consultant asap.

I’m trying to get used to sharing as events occur or more on a ‘live’ basis. As we speak I write this as I’m in hospital at the present moment.

Three nights ago, I came back from a week long business trip in London and I was at the tail-end of an infection. Nothing that couldn’t be sorted with antibiotics and actually I felt like I was getting better. I arrived back to my home in Edinburgh on the Friday and I was fine for two days. But then on Sunday, out of nowhere, I started coughing up an unusual amount of blood. And it wasn’t the frothy, mucus kind (as gross as that sounds), it was what seemed like pure bright red blood. Lots of it. I didn’t even feel that poorly, but of course, it FREAKED me out.

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