Better sleep and breathing

Healthier living through sleep and respiratory care and wellness.

Subscribe to RSS subscribe to our RSS feed
Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

By Reyna Gobel

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult, occurs most often in smokers over age 45. However, according the National institutes of Health (NIH), as many as one in six individuals with COPD have never smoked cigarettes.

While presently there is no cure for COPD, early detection can reduce the severity of symptoms. Without diagnosis, patients won’t get advice from their doctors on healthy lifestyle choices and information on prescribed medications to reduce the disease’s severity of symptoms.

The only way to diagnose COPD early is through through a simple, non-invasive test called spirometry, in which patients exhale deeply into a tube connected to a machine that provides a reading of lung function, according to the NIH.

Anyone—even non-smokers—exhibiting symptoms of COPD should be tested, according to the NIH website. “Coughing, shortness of breath, excess sputum or phlegm production, and other signs of respiratory difficulty are good indications that a physician should be consulted,” noted Dr. James Kiley on the site.

Beyond exhibiting symptoms, individuals with exposure to these environmental pollutants should also get tested:

  • Exposure to gases, dusts or fumes in the workplace. An example is someone working in dusty construction sites.
  • Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution. For example, family members of smokers may be at risk if the smoker in the household smokes indoors.
  • Those who frequently use fire to cook with without proper ventilation, such as a cook in a restaurant.

People who think they might be at risk for COPD should get tested as soon as possible by their physician. Early detection can be key in sustaining a higher quality of life.

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

By Marygrace Taylor

For the elderly, asthma complications can quickly become serious: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of asthma-related deaths in the United States occur in adults over age 65. And when it comes to taking asthma medications, there’s room for improvement. A mere 37 percent of seniors say they regularly take their inhaled corticosteroid, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Many elderly adults struggle to stick with their prescription medication regimen. But inhalers can help control the chronic inflammation that can lead to asthma flare-ups, so it’s critical to use them regularly.

Fortunately, there’s help. In response to his findings, study author Dr. Alex Federman, associate professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, said there are several rituals that can help older adults manage their inhaler use more effectively. Here are a few simple ones to incorporate into your daily routine—and start breathing easier:

1. Keep your medication in a usual location. Rather than moving it from one room to another, park it in one spot, such as the bathroom.

2. Add your inhaler to an already regular routine. For instance, make it a habit to always use your inhaler after brushing your teeth.

3. Use it at a specific time. If you make using your inhaler part of a regular routine, such as getting dressed in the morning, this one’s easy. Or make it a point to use your inhaler with a meal.

4. Take it with other medications. Do you normally take your pills before breakfast, or in the middle of the afternoon? Use your inhaler then, too.

5. Use other reminders. Find other ways to jog your memory, such as setting an alarm.

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

By Marygrace Taylor

The average adult takes up to 20 breaths per minute—or more than 20,000 per day. But for the 12 million Americans who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the simple act of inhaling and exhaling can feel like a lot more work.

What is COPD?

COPD is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. One of the main causes is prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, especially if the smoke is inhaled. But breathing in secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can cause the condition.

There’s no cure for COPD, and it tends to get worse over time. But by managing symptoms proactively, COPD patients can slow the disease’s progression and continue to do more of the activities they enjoy.

Symptoms of COPD

There are several telltale symptoms that indicate a person may have COPD. Some of the most common include:

· A cough that lasts for several weeks, or a cough without a known reason (such as a cold)

· Coughing up lots of mucus

· Shortness of breath, especially with activity

· Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when breathing)

· Tightness in the chest

Other common symptoms typically include tiredness and frequent colds or flu. COPD can cause other, more severe symptoms as well, including weight loss, lower muscle endurance and swelling in the ankles, feet or legs.

Taking Action Against COPD

There’s no cure for COPD, but lifestyle changes and treatments can help COPD patients feel better, stay more active and slow the progression of the disease. Together, you and your doctor can develop a COPD management regimen that includes:

· Quitting smoking and avoiding lung irritants (such as dust or fumes);

· Developing an exercise and nutrition plan to help your body stay strong;

· Taking medications, such as a bronchodilator or steroids;

· Keeping up on vaccines to prevent illness;

· Participating in pulmonary rehabilitation to improve your overall health and well-being; and

· Developing an action plan for COPD flare-up.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have COPD, talk with your doctor. Together, you can take control over your breathing problem and continue living the life that you love.

Changing the Culture of Sleep Deprivation at Work

Changing the Culture of Sleep Deprivation at Work

Changing the Culture of Sleep Deprivation at Work

By Jennifer Nelson

The sleep habits of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer were ridiculed on Twitter when she missed a meeting with ad execs because she overslept. While humorous on the one hand, the incident actually proves that lack of sleep affects every level of today’s workforce. It’s estimated that 35 percent to 40 percent of Americans have sleeping problems, and CEOs of mega conglomerates are no exception.

“People are not typically good judges of their own fatigue and impairment; they get used to the problems associated with fatigue and come to believe their lethargy, lack of focus, even ‘micro sleeps’ are normal,” said Dr. Dave Sharar, managing director of Chestnut Global Health, a Bloomington, Illinois, company that provides employee assistance programs.

Employees deal with increased workloads, stress and time-shifting, all of which undermine sleep quality.

What can companies do to help employees assess their sleep and improve both its length and quality, improving their employee’s alertness, productivity and preventing worksite accidents?

“Since poor sleep accounts for more than 30 percent of traffic and industrial accidents, sleep hygiene should be part of a company’s employee health program as much as diet, etc.,” said Dr. Murray Grossan, an ENT and founder of the Grossan Institute.

“For better sleep schedules, companies should require a number of hours worked, rather than a strict schedule where one needs to be at the office at a specific time in the morning,” said Kenny Kline, founder of Slumber Sage, an online mattress and sleep resource.

People prefer different sleep schedules, and have different obligations in the evening and morning that could force them to cut back on sleep if they don’t have worktime flexibility.

Nutrition also can have a big impact on sleep, and eating unhealthy options throughout the day may hinder quality sleep. Workplaces should have healthy snacks available and/or encourage their consumption.

“Companies can also encourage employees to pick a time and place for a restorative, 15-minute, onsite nap,” said Pam Kouri, Chestnut’s Health and Wellness director. “While it’s not always practical at more conventional workplaces, employees can increase the benefits of napping by picking the right time and keeping to it (usually just after lunch) and arranging suitable napping conditions—quiet, dark and cool.”

Senior management could also embrace sleep management as a productivity tool. “A well-rested employee is prepared, alert and performs at a high level, with lower risk of accident and injury,” Kouri said.

The key is both promoting the benefits of self-directed sleep management plans and providing employees with tools and proper guidance, and offering more robust company-sponsored programs that involve in-depth assessments, a personalized treatment plan and counseling to address the underlying problems that might be exacerbating sleep disorders.

New Mom? Help Put Baby on the Right Sleep Track

New Mom? Help Put Baby on the Right Sleep Track

New Mom? Help Put Baby on the Right Sleep Track

By MaryGrace Taylor

They say the first six weeks with an infant are the toughest: You’re just starting to get the hang of round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes. At the same time, your little bundle doesn’t know yet that daytime is for being awake and nighttime is for sleeping. So you’re running on practically zero steam.

But as any parent knows, your sleep schedule doesn’t immediately flip back to normal once you make it over that first exhausting hump. In fact, a recent Australian study found that even four months after giving birth, one in two new moms still report being excessively drowsy.

Though the women who participated in the study got a little more than seven hours of shut-eye per night, their sleep was fragmented. Most moms dozed off, then woke up to tend to their babies, dozed off again, woke up again … you get the (very tiring) picture.

It’s true that expecting to get a full night of uninterrupted shut-eye with a newborn is unrealistic. But by helping their baby get the best sleep she can, new moms (and dads) are more likely to snooze a bit more soundly, too, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here’s how.

Make nighttime wake-ups a non-event. Instead of stimulating your baby and making it more difficult for her to fall back asleep, stay calm and quiet when you feed or change her in the middle of the night.

Teach her that daytime equals playtime. By talking and playing with your baby during the day, she’ll stay awake longer. And that means longer periods of sleep at night.

Help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own. In the middle of the night, put her in her crib when she’s drowsy but still awake. Holding or rocking her until she’s asleep completely can make it harder for her to doze off without you in the middle of the night.

Don’t go to soothe her ASAP. When you hear your baby fussing in the wee hours, wait a few minutes before checking on her to see if she’s able to fall back asleep on her own. You just might be pleasantly surprised.