COPD and Managing Allergies No ratings yet.

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Having COPD and allergies gives you added respitory problems. The two aren’t related, but having allergies can worsen your COPD symptoms. With allergies the COPD patient has a lot to fight. Coughing and wheezing increase as well as the mucos builds up and viruses and bacteria can settle in airways. These things can need immediate medical attention and increases the likelihood of life-threatening flare-ups. Read more

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Walking to a Better Life With COPD No ratings yet.

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Experts say that even people with COPD still need to keep moving. The balloon-like sacs in the lungs have lost their elasticity, leaving the patient wheezing, coughing and gasping for breath. So gardening or pushing a cart at the grocery store can be difficult. And though there is no cure for the disease, there are things such as inhaled medication that can make the patient more comfortable. There is one other thing that will ease the ongoing breathing problem, and that is exercise. Many patients feel that since it is difficult to breathe, being inactive is normal for them but this is not the case. There are activities such as walking, riding a stationary bike, swimming, or other forms of aerobic activity that let the patient be active without causing breathing problems.

This can improve quality of life because it strengthens the lungs and makes every day of life more enjoyable. The lungs need to exercise, so that they will fill with air properly and remain elastic. By getting in the habit of exercising, the patient can reduce any feeling of anxiety or fear that they may be feeling. This can help a person with COPD feel more independent, have an improved quality of life, and a better sense of well-being.

Walking is a great way to build endurance, and help body's ability to use oxygen without placing a great deal of pressure on the joints. Walking will also help to strengthen and recondition the muscles. The diaphragm, which is a muscle, needs to have a work out as well, and resistance training for the uppper body is a good way to do this. But walking is a good start. It might be a good idea to keep a walking journal to keep track of your progress. The goal you want to reach is 10,000 steps per day. A pedometer may be of aid here. Being consistent is most important. Try to add more steps each day. Adding some aerobic exercises at some point is a good way to strengthen the upper body and the diaphragm.

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Smell the Flowers No ratings yet.

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Peace and calm awaits as you take a walk in the garden. Nature's finest beckons as you caress the leaves of plants you pass by. Then, you see her. Dazzling, vibrant and beautiful. She may be surrounded by prickly thorns, protecting her like the king's guard. And to your eyes, she is unreachable, but your heart tells you to go nonetheless. You reach out to touch her, but the thorns pierce your skin. The pain heightens your senses, but you will yourself to bear the pain, you coax yourself to keep moving forward – to reach that goal. To reach her. You brave 10, 15, 20 more thorns. It hurts as you sweat under the heat of the sun. Finally, you do reach her. In your longing and in your weariness, you stop and just – just marvel at her beauty.

You gaze at her even as the sun scorches your back and your skin. In your mind you have already touched her. But you know that it would be a crime against nature to pluck her away from the one that nourished her into being. So then, you simply stop and smell the rose. New sensations from your olfactory senses fill your being with grace and joy. You knew that she could give you all those. Your lungs are filled with her essence and your self is filled with an epiphany of living. The smell of a rose coupled with the freshness of morning dew drops stuns you, nay, brings you to an ecstatic moment of calm. But you are a smoker.

Your lungs are a desolate battlefield, filled with scars and scorches, your mind is clouded and your ability to grasp the olfactory essence of a rose is hindered as many thousands of your nerves have been flayed and beaten by nicotine and hundred or so chemicals. Would you walk away from the rose upon realizing this truth? Having had the realization that you cannot appreciate it, you despair and just gaze at it. You sit down and watch and wait for a miracle to happen. You try to smell it again, this time, mustering with all your strength to breathe in stronger to try to suck in what fragrance you could. Still nothing. A tear makes it way down your cheek, as you live with the truth of your inadequate being. You wipe it away with your clenched fist as your body begins to shudder uncontrollably at the prospect of not being able to experience what she offers. Will this be your story? – – – –

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The Yellow Peril No ratings yet.

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As we all know, smoking is a most unattractive habit. It makes people less attractive in many ways, including the smell. Not to mention, the drying-out and premature wrinkling of the skin, and bad breath. Smokers often have ash on their clothes.  In addition to all that, one of the unpleasant outward tell-tale signs of smoking is the yellow/brown nicotine stains on hands and nails. Although in actual fact they are caused not from the nicotine (which is a clear substance) but from the tar in cigarettes, it is a residue from this sticky brown chemical. Apparently tar is one of the chemicals in cigarettes which is the most dangerous to health. It is certainly not a pretty sight, is it?

Yellow or brownish fingers are not just cosmetically unsightly, but they may also indicate a fungal infection. Smokers are far more likely to get these types of infections, as smoking affects the circulation to the extremities, like fingers and toes. Even worse than that, yellowed fingers can also be an indicator of lung disease, which is known medically as "yellow nail syndrome." This can arise as a result of a genetic disorder, or due to the lungs being adversely affected by smoking.

In my previous life as a smoker, I never got stains on my fingers as I never smoked that heavily. But I have known quite a lot of people with that those tell-tale yellow marks. They are hard to remove, but people say you can get them off by scrubbing with salt and lemon juice (or better still, giving up smoking!)

There is also another way to remove these stains, and it will probably gross you out, so brace yourselves! A friend told me about this the other day (and I confirmed it by doing an Internet search). My friend said her Dad used to be a heavy smoker. He also used to make nice apple pies, and said once:

 "Making pastry is great for getting the nicotine stains off my fingers!"

 Ewwww! I wouldn't have wanted to eat any of his apple pies! This is what I also found out via the Internet. Someone else said that making bread is a good way of removing these stains. It really makes me wish that all bakers and chefs were non-smokers!

 

 

 

 

Hope you got something from this blog, and I appreciate your votes and comments.

Picture courtesy of www.puff.com

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The E-Cigarette Industry and Why Regulation Will be Good No ratings yet.

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You know that a fad is becoming a full-fledged industry when:

  • Mashable is writing about it
  • When doctors, medical associations and governments are now scrambling to regulate it.
  • When Silicon Valley big names like Sean Parker and Peter Thiel start investing millions in another industry.
  •  When celebrities like Bruno Mars start endorsing it openly.
  • Oh, and finally, when its industry earnings now run in the billions of dollars.

So yes, as a smoker, I really want to see if e-cigarettes can help me stop smoking or not. I genuinely want to try them and yes, I am disclosing that I am writing for this website to earn (partially to see if this post makes it to the front page), but more importantly, to find a solution for my smoking. That does not, however, impair my judgment on whether I would like to try e-cigarettes or not. The Phillipine government just made that decision easier for me by indicating that they want to regulate the product.

"The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) has called on government regulators to put a temporarily halt to the sale of electronic cigarettes to the public pending a proper study and testing of their safety." (Philippine Daily Inquirer: June 24, 2013) I'm all for this, so that when they put e-cigarettes in the clear, we will know which ones are legitimate and which ones are not. For context though, in the US, there are studies underway that are seeking to determine if there are carcinogens in such products, and whether there are other substances that could be harmful. That's also good. Then we'll know the good ones from the bad.

Personally, I think it's high time that the industry is regulated, because there are just so many brands that it's difficult to really know.  Here's what I don't like about e-cigarettes  (while having not yet tried them): I have three qualms specificially, regardless of what other people, including celebrities, medical associations, and governments, have to say about it.

1. Price. Here in the Philippines you can buy cigarettes for 3 Pesos ($0.07 USD) a stick. So far, the cheapest e-cigarettes I've seen at the grocery costs 1,700 Pesos ($39 USD).

2. There are too many brands. Every conventional smoker has his or her own brand. The same thing will happen for e-cigarettes. Online, there are hundreds (if not thousand)s of e-cigarette brands available in different parts of the globe. This has to be controlled and regulated. The industry will have to go through its own birth pangs.

3. Tobacco Industry sometimes linked with e-cigarettes. There are some e-cigarettes which are made by the same tobacco industry that sell us products their clasic products that cause cancer. If they didn't care about it then, they likely wouldn't not care cancer now. These folks just want to capitalize on the currently evolving industry. I don't want to make the guys who poison us even richer.

 

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Two New Cigarette Products Being Okayed by the FDA No ratings yet.

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During a news conference June, 25, 2013 FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hanburg said that new tobacco products under FDA’s authority cannot come on the market without the FDA’s reviewing them first. Using this new authority the FDA has let two new cigarette brands be put on the market. Read more

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COPD and the BODE system No ratings yet.

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Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It has to do with damage to the smallest breathing tubes in the lungs and the air sacs.

12 million Americans are diagnosed with COPD annually. This is a life threatening lung disease.

Where this disease is concerned there is no normal care. Each one differs dramatically. Most patients do not seek the help of a physician until they are experiencing shortness of breath and are unable to do their normal daily activities.It is so important to seek medical care on the first onslaught of breathing problems or fatigue after regular activity. Early detection is important in avoiding worsening lung function.

The BODE system comes into play as a tool to measure the amount of lung impairment the patient may have. This will tell the medical provider and the patient how the impairment affects the body as a whole. And this will give the patient an idea as to life expectancy.

There will be a six minute walk test that will show exercise tolerance. THe major part of the test measures the amount of airway obstruction or forced expiratory volume in one second or FEV1.

The two major ways to slow lung function decline are to quit smoking and to avoid second hand smoke.

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Dreaming of a Heavenly Rehabilitation Center for Smokers No ratings yet.

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The waves roar as they crash the sharp jagged rocks below the cliff. As you stand on a bright Sunday morning in a porch facing the ocean, you listen as the seagulls squawk away. You think about what they're saying and imagine them having a conversation.

Breathe freely,

We are full of glee, 

We live life.

So should you. Time to go and see–

Breathe happy

Squawk, squawk!

You smile and wave at them as if they were your flying feathery friends greeting you good morning. They squawk more in reply. 

You sit down, and all is at peace. There are no problems, no qualms, nobody to trigger those smoking inducing scenarios. The nearest cigarettes would be 50 kilometers away. Most of all, you can stay as long as you like.  

To me, the ideal cigarette/smoking rehabilitation center would look like heaven. It would be a nice white house on a cliff, spacious accommodations, plenty of room to roam, with a nice and pleasant staff, good food, hearty and relaxing music, plenty of fresh air from the ocean, and a ton of relaxing activities that take your mind off the rigors of life. 

I'm not entirely sure if such a place exists, so do indulge me as I fantasize that I could be able to go in a place as such as this. In the mornings, I'd have a bevy of green tea to choose from. The server would smile as she sets the table placements in front. I would smile and say, 

"Hey good morning Casey, how are your kids doing?" 

She would then smile and say quite joyfully "They're having a great time. Junior's practicing his swing and Julie's getting ready for her piano recital."  

"That's wonderful! Wow! I look forward to it. Will she be performing here?"

"Yes she will, she told me that she's going to play the classics." and with that she pours some lemonade on a tall clear glass. "Alright, I'll be back with your breakfast." She smiles again. 

While waiting, I see two fellow cigarette patients, an elderly gentleman and a woman in her forties. They approach my table and I stand to greet them. "Hey, how are you two? Do join me! Do join me! Yesterday's exercises were awesome weren't they? Jason is a really good motivator.

Matching my genuine joy in seeing them, we regale the previous night's rehabilitation and motivational activities with a true zest for living.

Breakfast arrives and I excuse myself for my boorish manners, "Umm, bacon, with perfectly toasted bread, sunny side up egg, butter, some cream cheese and an option to choose orange marmalade." The winds momentarily raise the sheet of white cloth as we all smile at the notion of the wind taking our breakfasts away. 

The lady, whose name is Rachel, then queries quite seriously, "Dan, how was the glass room?

The elderly gent beside, then shifts a bit at the serious question. I reply in a nonchalant and matter of fact way, "Well, it was full of glass walls. The bed was a little bit stiff though.

The Glass Room

Designed by a well-known psychiatrist and architect, the glass room is the heavenly equivalent of solitary confinement. Though not a room in the truest sense of the word, it is a large space in the middle of the house, on the second floor, with no ceiling or roof above it. A Zen garden decorates the inside with a single white bed placed in the center. On the Northern side, you could find the lavatory and shower room covered with bamboo fencing and routinely maintained by one of the facility stewards. The Southern side is where you can eat and replenish yourself while inside. It is a place of reflection, tranquility, openness, transparency, hope and ultimately, control. 

Patients in the facility schedule their stays in the glass room. The longest that anybody has stayed inside is a full week. 

Designed in such a way to prevent the most serious of nicotine-induced urges, it is for all intents and purposes, an extremely glorified jail cell for those who can no longer control their smoking habits. Once you schedule your stay, you can only go out when you have attained that sense of normalcy and control. That schedule, of course, is co-created by your facility guide. You can only go out once the schedule has expired. 

"It was okay. I was able to finish reading Book 1 of the Game of Thrones." I replied. "A bit cold at night, but the fresh air helped me a lot. It still needs a lot of improvements, but I imagine that I'll probably build one for my own house when I check out."

Rachel nods then smiles. She hasn't tried it yet since she was a newcomer, having only stayed for a week in the facility. 

The gentleman then stands up and excuses himself, "Well, I'm off to do some hoops, care to join me Danny?

"That'd be great." I say enthusiastically, "Nothing better to keep the blood agile.

Creative Commons Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Why Smoke? No ratings yet.

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In spite of all the anti-smoking campaigns organized today, smoking rates are not much affected. Anti-smoking advocates are only able to find success in postponing the initiation to smoke. Suggestions are given by many researchers that proper knowledge about smoking is very necessary and should always be included in any anti-smoking campaign. But children, teenagers, and even adults have proven all these measures worthless.

Now the very common question that in everybody's mind is : "Why are people still continuing with such a poisonous practice?" Not to mention: "Why do they start?

Today small children are also joining the ranks of smokers. There are many factors that are giving way to the practice of child smoking. One of the most common reasons is parental and sibling smoking. Childre whose parents are addicted to smoking, are more often found to become smokers.

This is not the single reason behind the increasing smoking rate however. When it comes to teenagers, they are often out to prove their own existence and identity as early as possible. They love to look cool and sophisticated among their friends, and they think that smoking is going to somehow enhance their personality.

Another major factor is the ease of obtaining cigarettes. When young people have an easier time getting to tobacco, they are more likely to mimick it's use. Keep your child away from tobacco, and she's much less likely to use it.

Whether you are an adult or a teenager, smoking will obviously not be good for your health. If your child has gone ideveloped abit of smoking, then make sure that you help him to come out of it, as it is severely going to affect his respiratory system. Moreover, it also increases the risk of lung disease in future life, as I'm sure you know.

 Keep yourself away from cigarettes, and if you are still not able to do so, then just question whether or not it's worth its true cost.

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Good News: Smoking Down to 18% in the US No ratings yet.

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Now here's some good news to brighten your day, the CDC has recently released a report detailing that the average American adult is less likely to smoke. It's down to 18% from 19% and considering the huge numbers involved in this trend, the change is very significant. 

If you count that, assuming that the adult population of the US is somewhere in the area of 239,516,412 people. 18% of that is 43,112,954. While 19% is 45,508,118. 

In short, you have 2,395,164 people who are no longer smoking in 2013.

Hooray!

While statisticians, health advocates and policy makers are probably jumping up and down with joy, the only downside to this good news is that nobody really knows why. The data is there, but pinpointing where the most effect comes from through statistical correlation is not definite.

To be sure, and from the standpoint of an ordinary individual, I'd say that it has to be the multi-pronged approach to the problem. 

Among the things that are cited that may have contributed to this decline are the following:

  • Less TV and movie characters are smoking in shows
  • A 1998 ban on commercials in entertainment may also have figured prominently
  • Increased tax rates on tobacco, correlates with less teenage tobacco consumption
  • Negative advertising portraying gory images related to smoking related illnesses by the CDC also helped
  • Increased education drives

The change may redound to some real world statistics as cigarette smoking and the illnesses that comes along with it is the number one leading cause of preventable deaths. How much? 

Well, let's just say that 1 out of 5 people who die in the United States, died from something related to those darn Marlboros, Winstons, Camels, Philip Morris and such. (Source: CDC) Wow.

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You have got to see this if you love statistics, numbers and bar graphs! CDC State Map Statistics

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One of the more interesting tidbits I found in that website is that in Alabama, the ethnicity of people who are more likely to smoke are the Native Americans. 

So what does this really mean for me?

It means that there is hope. For most people, smoking is not just a habit, it's a social phenomenon. The government however, sees smoking and smoking related illnesses as a budgetary black hole. The more people smoke, the more people get sick, the more that those tax dollars allocated for health, get drained for something that could be prevented.

Imagine, how much better healthcare would be if there were no smokers! That's right, we're talking about billions of dollars in savings! To be precise $96 billion dollars go towards healthcare costs related to smoking. (Source: CDC)

18% is still a big number, but we're getting there.

If this trend goes on, let's cross our fingers and hope to see a future, 18 years from now, where there would be 0% smokers. 

But ultimately, that change would always start with you, me – us.

Creative commons Image via Flickr

 

 

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