Wendy Lawson, the inventor and CEO of Exhale, has been named Board Director for the National Board of the American Lung Association.

The developer of a revolutionary lung rehabilitation app has been named Board Director for the National Board of the American Lung Association.

There are so many brilliant and accomplished people on this board. I feel very honored and humbled to be at the table with such talented people.”

— Wendy Lawson, Exhale

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA , UNITED STATES, October 4, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Wendy Lawson, the inventor and CEO of Exhale, launched the lung rehabilitation app earlier this summer. Lawson sought to use her medical experience to find a way to help patients with lung conditions manage their symptoms from their own homes. A need exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now Lawson has been named Board Director for the National Board of the American Lung Association.

“I feel honored,” said Lawson. “There are so many brilliant and accomplished people on this board. I feel very honored and humbled to be at the table with such talented people.”

The American Lung Association is the leading organization in the field of lung disease. Their work saves lives through a focus on preventing lung disease through research, education, and advocacy. The American Lung Association’s strategic imperatives are to defeat lung cancer, improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families, create a tobacco-free future, and champion clean air for all.

It is a mission Lawson is excited to see through.

“I believe in the mission and vision of the American Lung Association. I am passionate about lung health, and I hope to further our mission by helping to advance our education, advocacy, and research initiatives to solve some of the most pressing issues in lung health,” said Lawson.

Terri Bailey, who is the Executive Director for the ALA in Oklahoma, is thrilled to share the news of Lawson’s big appointment.

“I am thrilled Wendy has been elected to the National Board. Her expertise, initiative, and passion for helping others with lung health have made her a strong leader for the American Lung Association at a local and regional level for years. I know she will make an immediate and positive impact in this new role. It is exciting to see Oklahoma so well represented on a national level,” said Bailey.

Lawson’s app Exhale launched in May of this year. Exhale is a web-based app that helps patients manage their symptoms and take control of their condition through the use of its 12-week program. The use of pulmonary rehab has been demonstrably effective in the management of lung disease. Unfortunately, lack of access and cost barriers prevent many from getting the treatment they could benefit from.

“What Exhale does is solve the issue of disparity in access and availability by creating an online program. Anybody can log on to it themselves, they don't have to have a referral to the program. Users do their personalized program in 12 weeks, and we teach them all kinds of stuff that will benefit their quality of life,” said Lawson.

The team responsible for Exhale brings over 75 years of experience focusing on lung health to the table. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program that includes input from a multidisciplinary team who are experts in their areas. Exhale was developed to help patients breathe better, decrease anxiety, sharpen focus, gain strength, and live a more active lifestyle.

Every year time or transportation concerns keep countless Americans from accessing life-changing pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Only about 2% of the population that could benefit from pulmonary rehab ever get to a program. Exhale is changing all of that.

“We want to give people the tools to live a better life. Exhale's mission is to provide quality, affordable, and research-based training for anyone with lung health problems. Join us and let the team help you increase your quality of life."

Exhale is an IdeaPros Certified Partner.

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Home Healthcare Market: Introduction

According to the report, the global home healthcare market was valued at US$ 238.1 Bn in 2020 and is projected to expand at a CAGR of 10.5% from 2021 to 2028. The home healthcare market involves wide range of medical devices and services that help patients to treat or diagnose various chronic diseases. These devices and services play an important role in providing cost-effective healthcare to patients.

Home healthcare promises lucrative business opportunities due to increase in acceptance of home healthcare, technological advancements, and cost-effective alternatives compared to other modalities (i.e. hospital visits). Factors such as aging population and increase in the number of people diagnosed with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiac disorders, and respiratory diseases boost the growth of the global home healthcare market. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people aged 65 years and above is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion by 2050.

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COVID-19 Impact on Home Healthcare Market

COVID-19 is projected to drive sales of home healthcare monitoring products such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, and temperature monitors. Telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38x higher than before the pandemic. After an initial spike to more than 32% of office and outpatient visits occurring via telehealth in April 2020, utilization levels have largely stabilized, ranging from 13% to 17% across all specialties.

Rise in Demand for Home Care Therapeutic Devices

Increase in healthcare costs has led to rise in patient preference for home-based treatments. Products such as ventilators, nebulizers, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are used by patients to treat, diagnose, and monitor various respiratory diseases in home care settings. These devices, along with home care services, provide cost-effective healthcare to patients.

Rapid increase in the global geriatric population, surge in incidence of chronic diseases (including COPD and asthma), and cost advantages of home care devices and services (compared to hospital visits) are the major factors driving the global home healthcare market.

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Diagnostic & Monitoring Home Devices Segment to Dominate Global Market

Home healthcare devices have been segmented into diagnostic & monitoring devices, therapeutic devices, home mobility assist devices, and medical supplies. The diagnostic & monitoring devices segment includes blood glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, sleep apnea monitors, pregnancy test kits, pulse oximeters, heart rate monitors, temperature monitors, pedometers, and coagulation monitors. The therapeutic devices segment comprises insulin delivery devices, nebulizers, ventilators & CPAP devices, IV equipment, and dialysis equipment. The home mobility assist devices segment has been split into wheelchairs, cranes & crutches, and other mobility assist devices.

The diagnostic & monitoring home devices segment is driven by rise in prevalence of diseases that require frequent usage of therapeutic equipment.

Rehabilitation Services Segment to Dominate Market

Based on service, the global home healthcare market has been classified into rehabilitation services, telehealth & telemedicine services, infusion therapy services, respiratory therapy services, and unskilled home healthcare services. The rehabilitation services segment is driven by benefits of these services to patients. For instance, these services improve the compliance and efficacy of the treatment and ensure privacy of patients. Additionally, patients do not need to travel to the clinics and hospitals to avail the therapy treatment. Moreover, several companies and government organizations offer specialized training programs to customers.

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North America to Dominate Global Market

In terms of region, the global home healthcare market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America dominated the global home healthcare market in 2020, followed by Asia Pacific. North America accounted for the dominant share of the global market in 2020. Presence of a large geriatric population, sophisticated healthcare infrastructure, and relatively higher disposable income levels are the major factors fueling the growth of the market in the region.

Competition Landscape

The global home healthcare market is fragmented in terms of number of players. Key players in the global market include 3M Health Care, Bayer AG, Abbott Laboratories, Cardinal Health, Inc., GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Gentiva Health Services, Inc., Invacare Corporation, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Phillips Healthcare, Medtronic, Inc., and Omron Healthcare, Inc.

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Specific breathing techniques trigger the nervous system to calm itself, which reduces anxiety and stress. This technique is used by SEALS in high stress situations; it will work for you too.

  • Box breathing is a form of breath control that triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to help manage stress and improve relaxation so you can take control of your health
  • This technique, also called square breathing or four-square breathing, is used by Navy SEALS to help reduce stress in high-pressure situations
  • It involves nose breathing to slow over-breathing and raise CO2 levels to balance oxygenation. Use a simple technique to measure your CO2 tolerance, a predictor of physical health
  • Nose breathing raises production of nitric oxide, which offers antiviral benefits. Consider the four-minute Nitric Oxide Dump to promote blood flow and normalize blood pressure

Breathing is universal, habitual and nearly always automatic. When you get stressed, your breathing pattern and rate change. This often results in more chest breathing in response to a “fight or flight” situation, a response triggered by the autonomic nervous system.1

In April 2019, a headline in The New York Times announced, “Americans Are Among the Most Stressed People in the World …”2 This was slightly less than one year before the COVID-19 pandemic raised stress levels even further.

Americans are no strangers to stress. A poll was conducted in 2007 by the American Psychological Association (APA). In a press release they noted that one-third reported they were living with “extreme stress” and 48% thought their stress had “increased over the past five years.”3 Russ Newman, APA executive director for professional practice, commented:4

“Stress in America continues to escalate and is affecting every aspect of people’s lives — from work to personal relationships to sleep patterns and eating habits, as well as their health.

We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact, however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease.”

Fortunately, your breathing is not completely automatic. Controlled breathing is one strategy that has proven effective in reducing physiological stress indicators and improving feelings of being calm.

This means you can control your breath to help manage stress, improve relaxation and make greater strides to take control of your health. Let’s start with a short explanation of some of the different parts of the nervous system.

Stress and your body’s reactions to environmental stimuli that cause stress are survival mechanisms. However, chronic activation of the system causes the consistent release of hormones that produce harmful physiological changes.

While the fight-or-flight response is critical if you’re facing down a bear or running from an assailant, ongoing exposure to societal stress can raise your risk of chronic disease and death.5 Your response to a stressful situation begins in the amygdala of your brain, which plays a role in how you handle the emotions associated with stress, joy and other scenarios.6

The amygdala sends a signal to the hypothalamus, which communicates to the body through the autonomic nervous system. This system controls functions in the body that happen automatically, such as your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.

The autonomic nervous system has two parts, one that raises the alarm and another that helps calm you down. The sympathetic nervous system signals the fight-or-flight response to begin. This gives you the energy and focus you need to flee from a risky situation. Once the danger has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system helps apply the brakes to the release of hormones so that the body can rest.

Each of these changes happens quickly and without any input from you. This is why you can jump out of the way of a snake in the grass before you fully recognize there’s anything in your path.

Keeping the sympathetic nervous system revved up and ready has a detrimental effect on your health. By using controlled breathing, you can calm yourself and create real physiological changes, including:7

  • Lowering your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Lowering levels of stress hormones
  • Balancing carbon dioxide and oxygen blood levels
  • Improving immune functioning and energy levels
  • Increasing feeling of being calm

The technique of box breathing is what SEALS use. In this video, Mark Divine of SEALFIT demonstrates box breathing and tactical breathing. He explains tactical breathing is used during performance to calm the mind when you’re under duress. For those of us not in combat situations, this might happen in the boardroom, during an athletic competition or while taking a test.

SEALS use box breathing as the practice technique, so tactical breathing is effective when it’s needed. There are four steps and each is done for the same amount of time. Breathing affects how you think and feel.8 Lynne Everatt is an author, personal trainer and wellness expert from Toronto. She spoke to a reporter from Forbes, saying:9

“Stress and anxiety trigger neurocircuitry that was designed to be used sparingly to deal with life-or-death threats, not on a daily basis as a response to gnarled traffic, a toxic boss or work overload.

Chronic stress has a corrosive effect on the brain that has been linked to degeneration of the hippocampus (the brain’s memory center) and impaired functioning of the prefrontal cortex that can manifest in our lives as depression, dementia and impaired executive function.”

To begin practicing box breathing, get in a quiet place where you can concentrate and maintain good posture. Ideally, you’ll want to measure how many cycles or minutes you can do the technique and work up to five minutes.10

Do each step below with focus and intention on your actions. Most people who use this technique recommend inhaling and exhaling to a count of four or five. Either is acceptable as long as each phase takes same the length of time.

Step 1 — Begin by exhaling the air out of your lungs to a slow count of four. Some recommend exhaling through your mouth; Divine recommends exhaling through your nose.

Step 2 — Hold your breath for a slow count of four.

Step 3 — Inhale slowly to a slow count of four through your nose, keeping your back straight and breathing through your abdomen so your shoulders do not rise.

Step 4 — Hold your breath for a slow count of four and return to step 1.

Breathing through your nose offers specific health benefits. Researchers have found that people who usually breathe through their mouth have a higher risk of sleep problems and attention deficit disorders.11 One theory for this is the difference in brain oxygenation.

Individuals who mouth breathe tend to hyperventilate or get more oxygen than is needed.12 This lowers the level of CO2 in the body, which is important since you need a balance of oxygen and CO2 to function optimally. Nose breathing helps accomplish this.

Your vagus nerve is the major part of the parasympathetic nervous system.13 Diaphragmatic breathing, which you may have heard as slow abdominal breathing, triggers the vagus nerve and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Since the 1970s, deep breathing has become a central part of helping reduce stress and anxiety, widely accepted by Western clinicians.14

By stimulating the vagus nerve and thus the parasympathetic nervous system, nose breathing can help reduce stress, anxiety and the release of stress hormones. Breathing through your nose helps you to breathe less.

This might sound like a bad recommendation, yet many people chronically over-breathe and deplete their carbon dioxide reserves. Chronic mouth breathing has been associated with several health problems, including:

  • Sleep apnea15
  • Bronchoconstriction with exercised-induced asthma16 17
  • Abnormal facial development18 19
  • Poor dental health20
  • Hyperventilation, which results in reduced oxygen to your brain and heart21 22

As I’ve written before in “Top Breathing Techniques for Better Health,” the function behind box breathing that reduces stress, raises your CO2 level and signals your parasympathetic system is diaphragmatic breathing. You can easily assess your body’s tolerance for CO2 at home, using a technique developed by Dr. Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko.23

This Russian physician discovered that the level of CO2 in your lungs correlates with your ability to hold your breath after a normal exhalation. Begin by sitting straight with your feet flat to the floor. Take a small breath in and out through your nose. After exhaling, pinch your nose to keep air from entering and then start your stopwatch. Hold your breath until you feel the first desire to breathe. When you feel that urge, resume breathing and note the time.

Your first breath should be calm and controlled through your nose. If you feel like you had to take a deep breath, then you held your breath too long. What you just measured is called the “control pause,” or CP. This is a reflection of the tolerance your body has for carbon dioxide. Most people can hold it 20 to 40 seconds, but 40 to 60 is optimal. Anything lower than 40 may be reason for concern.

One strategy for improving your CP is to raise your fitness and endurance levels. Another is to improve your breathing technique by expanding your abdomen rather than lifting your shoulders. When your shoulders lift during inhalation, it’s called vertical breathing.

This can make you feel taller and it does not involve extending your stomach. However, correct breathing causes your midsection to widen and is called horizontal breathing. This engages your diaphragm, which allows you to take a more complete breath and stimulate your vagus nerve.

Another reason to breathe through your nose is to raise the production of nitric oxide (NO).24 Your body produces NO in other places as well, including your endothelial cells. This is a soluble gas that has some exceptional health benefits, some of which I discuss in “The Importance of Healthy Bacteria in Nitric Oxide Production.”

Many of those benefits may be a result of NO being a signaling molecule. Doctors use the gas in a number of clinical settings, including to help reverse pulmonary high blood pressure in newborns. NO produced by your endothelium helps to relax arteries and reduce blood pressure. This helps to promote oxygenation to all your organs.25

Another benefit of inhaled nitric oxide has been in the treatment of viral infection. Clinical trials are currently underway for the treatment of people infected with SARS-CoV-2. The principal actions that could help combat COVID-19 include:26

  • Dilating pulmonary arteries to help the lungs get more blood
  • Opening bronchial airways to increase oxygen delivery
  • Directly eliciting antiviral activity against the virus

Louis J. Ignarro, Ph.D., author of the article in The Conversation, was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1998. The group of pharmacologists discovered how nitric oxide was produced and how it functions in the body.27 Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal cavity, but not in the mouth.

This means that those who chronically breathe through their mouth are bypassing production that can be inhaled into the lungs.28 This direct delivery helps increase air flow and blood flow within the lung tissue, and it inhibits the growth and replication of viruses and other microorganisms. There is a clinical trial currently underway to:29

“… determine whether inhaled NO improves short term respiratory status, prevents future hospitalization, and improves the clinical course in patients diagnosed with COVID-19 specifically in the emergency department.”

You can help boost your NO production at home using a simple, four-minute exercise three times a day. Dr. Zach Bush, whose triple-board certification includes expertise in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, named the exercise the Nitric Oxide Dump. He says it is anaerobically efficient and the more you do it, the better it works.

The exercise can be done at home with no equipment and can accommodate every fitness level. It works by stimulating the release of nitric oxide. You’ll find more about the exercise, how to do it and why it’s so beneficial at “Fitness Checkup: Why You Need to Try the Nitric Oxide Dump Workout.”

Originally published Jan 12 2022 on Mercola.com

References

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Outdoor activities to boost your physical and psychological well-being.

outdoor activities

Mental health is crucial for your overall well-being. As such, you should adopt a lifestyle that promotes your psychological wellness. We all know that being outside in nature and breathing fresh air helps disperse all our negative thoughts, and it's an excellent way to soak in Vitamin D. 

With the pressures of life mounting daily, you will need to engage in activities that help you relieve all the stress and enjoy life. There are so many outdoor activities you perform to improve your mental health, and they include:

 1. Hiking

Hiking is a great way to get in tune with nature and dispel thoughts overwhelming your mind. It's a common belief that when you are surrounded by nature, especially if you are hiking in an area with plenty of trees, flowers, and streams, your stress naturally disappears as nature instills feelings of calmness.

Hiking is also a great form of exercise and helps enhance your overall health. It can be a perfect hobby if you live in a region with plenty of hiking trails and parks.

2. Yoga

Yoga is excellent for your mental and overall well-being as it helps improve balance. When you practice yoga outdoors, you increase your chances of having a connection with the earth.

Yoga increases your mind and body awareness because, like meditation, you are required to do a lot of deep breathing, which helps you dispel negative energy and breathe in the fresh air, which allows your brain to relax and produce serotonin which helps alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

With yoga, you will be more agile, improving your health as it helps lower your blood pressure and boosts your immune system.

 3. Cycling

If you're not a fan of running, try cycling. It requires a lot of focus and balance to avoid falling. If you're just starting, ride on smooth surfaces. It will be challenging when riding on gravel, as you must focus when maneuvering your bike along the bumpy road, making you forget your stress.

Biking is also an excellent means of reducing your carbon footprint, and if your job is not far from home, you can opt to cycle as it will allow you to enjoy nature and save on fuel costs. On weekends you can go cycling with your family, thus helping create a stronger bond.

 4. Gardening

Gardening is another activity for anyone struggling with their mental health, whether from a heartbreak, trauma, or loss. A satisfying feeling takes over once you see a seed develop into a seedling and then into towering plants that produce fruits. Or the fact you can get flowers for vases or vegetables for your salads and meals from the garden you started is an outstanding achievement that brings happiness and relieves stress.

You find that older adults suffering from ailments such as dementia are encouraged to take up gardening as a form of treatment.

 5. Swimming

Water is a great stress reliever. The feeling of cold water on your skin and fresh air in your lungs helps our brain release endorphins which help boost our mood and alleviate stress. That's why you find that many people opt to go swimming or perform water sports such as kayaking, paddling, snorkeling, or swimming when they are not in a great mental space.

And since you don't want to drown, you will have to stay calm and focus while in the water, which helps take your mind off all your worries and fears.

If you are not up to getting into the water, you can walk along the shores, just walking and breathing fresh air is enough for your mental wellness.

 6. Running

Running is a great outdoor exercise; you can do it regardless of location. If you stay in a busy area, you can try running early in the morning or late in the evening, but make sure you have a partner for added safety.

The best part about running is that you don't need any type of training and can do it at a comfortable pace. You will notice that getting out of the house and running, even for 20 minutes, will significantly impact your mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a tremendous shift in people's lives, and people had to be creative. Thus many had to make lifestyle changes; where one used to go to the gym, they now had to work out from their homes or run around the neighborhood, and their diet also changed.

7. Rock Climbing

If you are an adrenaline junkie, rock climbing is a fun outdoor activity that commands your attention and physical fitness. Although you have the added protection of the harnesses, rock climbers seek to get to the highest point. Therefore, when crawling up the wall, their mind is of their struggles; the only thing on their mind is the next step to take them to the top.

8. Fishing

If you live in a place with rivers and lakes, you can take up fishing on days you feel low and need a boost. Not only will you enjoy the fresh air, but you will also get to eat fresh seafood. And fish is an excellent source of Omega-3-fatty acids, an essential nutrient for mental and physical well-being.

9. Camping

If you love getting lost in nature and gazing at the stars, you must go camping whenever you feel on edge. There is something about sitting around a fire pit and sleeping in a tent that keeps you grounded. Take your camping gear and hop in your car during the weekend and unwind at your favorite camping site.

Ensure that all your gadgets are off to avoid distractions and allow you to connect with nature. However, ensure that someone knows where you are going and when you'd be back. It would also be better if you had a company for added security.
 
10. Meditation

Meditation is essential for mental health, and medical practitioners recommend it for people struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression. When done outside, meditation has immense benefits as it allows you to breathe in the fresh air and stay grounded. It helps increase awareness of your emotions, thus enabling you to manage your psychological problems.

Final Thought

If you are struggling with mental health, it would be best to switch up your lifestyle and diet. Make sure to include one outdoor activity in your routine. It can be walking around the neighborhood, swimming, yoga, meditation, or cycling. These activities help you connect with nature and fuel your brain, thus leaving you stress-free.

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Choosing the Right Respiratory Protection

Choosing the Right Respiratory Protection

It is important for you and your workers to have confidence in your safety equipment.

When it comes to selecting respirators for the work environment, numerous resources are available from respirator suppliers, the OSHA respirator selection e-tool, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and other resources. However, we can still end up with a wide and daunting range of choices and considerations.  

Is an N95 filter good enough, or should we be using a P100? Should we use an organic vapor or combination cartridge, and when do we need a filter? How long will cartridges last, including if we don’t use them regularly? 

Filters 

Filters are used for solids or liquids suspended in air. The term “aerosol” includes any suspension of tiny particles or droplets in the air, such as dusts, mists or fumes.  

“Fumes” is a commonly misused term, and for respirator selection, it is important to distinguish between fumes and vapors. Fumes are solid particles generated by condensation, such as during welding—when vaporized metal condenses into solid particulate fumes.  

Vapors, on the other hand, are the gaseous form of a liquid or solid substance. It is possible for fumes to pass right through a vapor cartridge and also for vapors to pass through a filter. The correct terminology is important and for protection from fumes, we want a filter.  

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone familiar with the term “N95.” This is commonly used to refer to the N95 filtering facepiece respirator, but the N95 designation applies to any filtering apparatus meeting the NIOSH specifications, including those used with half or full-face respirators. The selection of an N, P or R filter rating depends on the need for oil resistance, as oils can degrade the filter media. N is not resistant to oil, R is resistant to oil and P is oil-proof.  

The three levels of filter efficiency are 95 (95 percent), 99 (99 percent) and 100 (99.97 percent). The term “high-efficiency” or “HEPA” is used with filters for powered air purifying respirators with a 99.97 percent efficiency. 


This article originally appeared in the October 1, 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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I was diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) – something I’d never even heard of (Picture: Diven Halai)

There’s something ironic about the fact that I was probably the fittest I’d ever been when I was first diagnosed with a serious lung condition.

An avid runner, by 2019 I’d just completed my first half marathon and had also lost two and half stone combining weekend runs with personal training sessions at my gym. I was as healthy as I could be. Or so I thought. 

In July of that year, I was climbing the stairs to the platform to catch my train to London where I work for a construction company, when I first noticed something was wrong. 

I was so breathless by the time I reached the top, I had to miss a couple of trains before I could continue my journey. 

The first time it happened, I felt scared but tried not to show it, thinking I would be fine.   

But when this occurred again the next day, and the day after, I felt like there was something seriously wrong and I needed to get it checked.

I then noticed that, instead of completing my usual 10k run at weekends with ease, I could barely make it up the road past a few houses outside my home in Harrow, Greater London, without needing to stop to catch my breath. 

Something definitely wasn’t right. 

I went to see my GP in August 2019 who referred me to hospital for tests. 

Initially, I was told by the GP it might be asthma, but after waiting a month for a proper diagnosis, I decided to use private healthcare through my work and went to see another specialist.  

This doctor thought I had a breathing disorder (I wasn’t given a name for it) and I was prescribed eight sessions of breathing physiotherapy.

At this point I thought, ‘Ok that’s fine, I’ve done physio before and it doesn’t seem to be overly serious. I’ll be OK.

I did this physio course over nearly a year due to the Covid lockdowns. It was quite frustrating. Even though we were in lockdown and everyone was limited in what exercise they could do, I thought that, with the physiotherapy, I might have been able to at least go running – but I wasn’t getting any better.

Things still didn’t improve and by August 2020 I was given a CT scan and further tests, as my condition had deteriorated further. I would say the pandemic delayed my diagnosis by eight or nine months.

Within months my breathing problems became debilitating (Picture: Diven Halai)

At this point, general day to day life was hard. I would struggle with simple daily tasks, smells would set me off and I’d have coughing fits. Even if I laughed, I struggled.

I was diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) – something I’d never even heard of. It’s an umbrella term used for a group of lung conditions that damage the lung tissue. There are more than 200 different ILDs. 

When I asked the specialist what had caused it, he told me that I had an underlying autoimmune condition called diffuse systemic sclerosis that had brought it on. 

My lungs were scarred and coupled with thick layers of collagen inside my body caused by the sclerosis, this was slowing down the process of getting oxygen into my blood. 

I was devastated.  

Within months, my breathing problems became debilitating.

I started chemotherapy immediately, in January 2021. The chemo was to suppress my immune system (autoimmune conditions sometimes mean you have an overactive immune system).

I was in a dark place for a long time. I worried about how I could carry on living a life that I loved, and if my wife Sheetal, 35, and I could ever start a family. I was told the chemotherapy might affect my fertility and was advised not to try to conceive naturally.

Having to give up running and working out had a huge impact on me too. I felt isolated, as sport had been the focus of my social life. I have an amazing support network, but I’d get jealous if my friends went for a run or a simple walk which I couldn’t do. 

Having the oxygen gave me a sense of freedom and independence (Picture: Diven Halai)

There is no current cure for ILD so all the doctors could do was give me chemotherapy, steroids and immunosuppressants to try and stabilise my lung function. Hopefully this would slow down its progression.

Chemotherapy was tough, along with its side effects. Most appointments I had were luckily local but generally any appointment I had, I had to go on my own due to the pandemic.

I was still working and didn’t take much time off work. I didn’t want to stay in bed for long periods of time and I wanted to keep my mind preoccupied. 

Then I was referred to a respiratory team who carried out an oxygen assessment on me. They’d check my oxygen saturation levels at rest and when active, firstly without and then with oxygen. 

They suggested I try using oxygen when I exercise, which would give me the opportunity to walk and go to the gym.

It changed everything.

Having the oxygen gave me a sense of freedom and independence.

As soon as I received it I started back up with my personal trainer. We obviously started slow, a lot of the exercises at the beginning were trial and error to see how they affected me. 

When I was diagnosed, I could barely have a conversation or even laugh without having a coughing fit, but by August last year, I was able to go out for walks and even go to the gym. I felt the positive impact on my mental health almost instantly. 

And now I’m going for an even bigger prize – completing the London Marathon. 

Taking part in the Marathon had always been a dream of mine and I’d been planning to apply before being diagnosed with ILD.

When the applications opened earlier this year, I realised that it might be my last opportunity, because as time goes on my condition could get worse. I also wanted to raise money for Asthma + Lung UK, who helped me when I was diagnosed, and help others with lung conditions.  

Walking with the tank feels like when you’re in school and have a heavy rucksack with all your school books (Picture: Diven Halai)

So, I asked my consultant whether it would be safe for me to take part – walking, not running the 26-mile route through the city. He checked my oxygen levels and said I’d be fine, as long as I used my oxygen tank to help.

Walking with the tank feels like when you’re in school and have a heavy rucksack with all your school books. The tank itself is a 30cm cylinder which I fill up with liquid oxygen from a bigger tank  

I had to buy a rucksack and put eyelets into it for ventilation.

I began training for the marathon in April this year, starting with two-hour long walks a couple of times a week, then building up to five to 10 miles twice a week, and I’m now up to 10-15 miles three times a week.

Everyone has been very supportive. Friends, family and colleagues – even people I don’t know have approached me or donated money. It’s amazing how much awareness this is getting.

Some people say I’m brave, some say I’m joking and some say I’m just plain crazy.

But people know how determined I am and how much I want to walk through that finish line, no matter how long it takes. I’ve had many offers for walking buddies too, so for a lot of my walks I’ve had some good company.

I estimate that it will take me eight hours, using three oxygen canisters, but to be honest, I don’t care if it takes me all day or I finish outside the seven-hour cut off time to receive a medal. I’m just adamant that I will finish it.  

As far as I know, only one other person has completed the London Marathon with oxygen – I’ve been told I will be the first man ever to do it, which is a huge honour.  

My goal is to show others that they don’t need to let a lung condition or any condition hold them back. They may have to do things differently, but they can still do the things they love.

For me, the thing I love is exercise – and I know the moment I cross that finish line – whatever time it takes – will be the proudest of my life.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]. 

Share your views in the comments below.


MORE : ‘Sickest ever Covid patient’ finally comes off oxygen after catching virus in 2020


MORE : MAFS UK’s Marilyse Corrigan running London Marathon months after donating kidney to save ex’s life


MORE : Mo Farah dismisses retirement after hip injury rules him out of London Marathon



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In a test to see if dogs can identify material that has been exposed to breath and sweat from stressed humans, they got it right around 94 per cent of the time



Life



28 September 2022

A greyhound

Is that stress I can smell?

Getty Images/Moment RF/Fernando Trabanco

Dogs can smell the difference between stressed and relaxed humans from their sweat and breath alone. The finding could be used to inform training programs for service dogs.

When we are stressed, our body responds with a host of physical changes. Our heart rate jumps, we get clammy and the cocktail of chemicals in our sweat and saliva changes. Previous studies have found that dogs can smell things like fear, covid-19 and cancer in humans. Clara Wilson at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK …

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As any dog owner would likely anecdotally report, our pet pooches are seemingly able to sense when we are feeling tense and stressed. Now, a group of researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have figured out exactly how they are able to do this: they are able to ‘smell’ stress in our sweat and on our breath.

The finding follows on from previous studies that have shown that dogs can sniff out cancer and COVID-19 in human sweat.

To make the discovery, the team gathered together four dogs from normal domestic homes - Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie – and 36 volunteers. They set the volunteers a complicated maths problem designed to up their stress levels and took samples of their sweat and breath before and after they tackled the sums.

Throughout the experiment, the researchers monitored the volunteers and only took the second sample when they detected an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate – both clear indicators of stress.

Meanwhile, the dogs were trained to pick out specific scents from a line up.

The team then presented each of the dogs with a selection of scents featuring one of the volunteer’s relaxed sample and stressed sample to see if the dogs could distinguish between them based on scent alone. All four of the dogs were able to correctly alert the researchers to each volunteer's stress sample, even though they had never met them before.

Soot, one of the dogs tested in the study, alerting the researchers to a sweat sample.

Soot, one of the dogs tested in the study, alerting the researchers to a sweat sample. © Queen's University Belfast

“The findings show that we, as humans, produce different smells through our sweat and breath when we are stressed and dogs can tell this apart from our smell when relaxed – even if it is someone they do not know,” said researcher Clara Wilson, a PhD student in the School of Psychology at Queen’s.

“The research highlights that dogs do not need visual or audio cues to pick up on human stress. This is the first study of its kind and it provides evidence that dogs can smell stress from breath and sweat alone, which could be useful when training service dogs and therapy dogs.

“It also helps to shed more light on the human-dog relationship and adds to our understanding of how dogs may interpret and interact with human psychological states.”

Read more about the science of dogs:

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The most advanced study released by Data Lab Forecast on the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market comprising key market segments such as Type, Application, Sales, Growth, Comprises details of company manufacturing field, production volume, capacities, value chain, product specifications, raw material sourcing strategies, concentration rate, organizational structure, and distribution channel.

The COVID-19 outbreak is now traveling around the world, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. This report discusses the impact of the virus on leading companies in the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) sector.

The research is a precise offset bridging both qualitative and quantitative data of the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market.The study provides historical data to compare evolving Sales, Revenue, Volume, and Value from 2017 to 2021 and forecasted till 2030.

It becomes necessary to analyze the competitor’s progress while operating in the same computing environment, for that purpose, the report provides thorough insights into the market competitor’s marketing strategies which include alliances, acquisitions, ventures, partnerships, as well as product launches, and brand promotions.

Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Market with Impact Analysis of COVID-19: Key Major Players are 3M, Avon Protection Systems, Bullard Group, Honeywell International, MSA Safety, Alpha Pro Tech, Ansell, Bulwark Protective Apparel, Drgerwerk, Dynamic Safety International, Gentex, Grolls, Gurit, Intech Safety, International Enviroguard, Scott Health & Safety, Shanghai Baoya Safety Equipment, Tyco Safety Products, Venus Safety & Health, Wenaas.

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North America held dominant position in the global Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market in 2022, accounting for XX% share in terms of value, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific, respectively.

Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Research objectives

⇛ To study and analyze the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market size by key regions/countries, product type and application, history data from 2017 to 2021, and forecast to 2030.

⇛ To understand the structure of the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market by identifying its various subsegments.

Focuses on the key global Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) players, to define, describe and analyze the value, market share, market competition landscape, SWOT analysis, and development plans in the next few years.

⇛ To analyze the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) concerning individual growth trends, prospects, and their contribution to the total market.

⇛ To share detailed information about the key factors influencing the growth of the market (growth potential, opportunities, drivers, industry-specific challenges, and risks).

⇛ To project the size of Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) submarkets, concerning key regions (along with their respective key countries).

⇛ To analyze competitive developments such as expansions, agreements, new product launches, and acquisitions in the market.

⇛ To strategically profile the key players and comprehensively analyze their growth strategies.

Competitive Structure and analysis of The Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Market:

⇛ Constant growth, expanding margins

Some of the players have a stellar growth track record from 2014 to 2018, some of these companies have shown tremendous growth in sales and revenue while net income more than doubled in the same period with performance as well as gross margins expanding. The growth in gross margins over the years points to strong pricing power by the company for its products, over and above the increase in the cost of goods sold.

The report further features an analysis that contains details of companies manufacturing base, production volume, sizes, value chain, and product specifications.

⇛ Manufacturing growth forecasts and market share

According to DLF, key market segments sales will traverse the $$ market in the year 2021. Unlike classified segments by Type (Filter breathing protection, Isolated breathing protection.), by End-Users/Application (Healthcare, Metals and Mining, Processing Industries, Construction, Aerospace and Defense, Fire Services.).

The 2022 report version is the most advanced which is further divided and highlights a new emerging twist of the industry.

The keyword market will increase from $XX million in 2021 to strike $YY million by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of xx%. The most robust growth is anticipated in Asia-Pacific, where CAGR is presumed to be ##% from 2021 to 2030. This prediction is good news for market players, as there is good potential for them to continue developing alongside the industry’s projected growth.

Find out more about the growth of the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) market at: www.datalabforecast.com/industry-report/2955-respiratory-protection-equipment-rpe-sales-market

⇛ Devised growth plans & rising competition?

Market players have determined strategies to offer a whole host of new product launches within several markets around the globe. Remarkable models are variants to be launched in eight EMEA markets in Q4 2020 and 2021. Acknowledging all-around exercises some of the player profiles that would be worth reviewing are 3M, Avon Protection Systems, Bullard Group, Honeywell International, MSA Safety, Alpha Pro Tech, Ansell, Bulwark Protective Apparel, Drgerwerk, Dynamic Safety International, Gentex, Grolls, Gurit, Intech Safety, International Enviroguard, Scott Health & Safety, Shanghai Baoya Safety Equipment, Tyco Safety Products, Venus Safety & Health, Wenaas.

⇛ Status of the market in today’s world

Although recent years might not be that inspiring as market segments have registered reasonable gains, things could have been better if manufacturers would have plan-driven move earlier. Unlike past, but with a decent estimate, the investment cycle continues to progress in the U.S., many growth opportunities ahead for the companies in 2021, it looks good for today but stronger returns can be expected beyond.

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Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Market
Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Market

Report Answers Following Questions:

⇛ What are future speculation openings in the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) scene investigating value patterns?

⇛ Which are the healthiest organizations with reaches and late advancement inside the market till 2030?

⇛ How is the market expected to create in the forecasting years?

⇛ What are the principal issues that will impact advancement, including future sales estimates?

⇛ What are the advertising openings and potential hazards related to the Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) by investigating patterns?

⇛ What impact does COVID-19 have made on Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE) Market Growth & Sizing?

Thanks for reading this article, you can also get individual chapter-wise sections or region-wise report versions like North America, Western / Eastern Europe, or Southeast Asia.

With the given market data, Research on Global Markets offers customization according to specific needs.

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  • A new study found that a type of breathwork (or breath training) performed for 30 minutes per day can lower blood pressure.
  • A special device and a technique called high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) can lower systolic blood pressure by almost 10 mmHg and DBP by nearly 5 mmHg.
  • Daniel Harrison Craigheahd, Ph.D., breaks down his research and how the breathing technique actually works to lower blood pressure.

Taking a deep breath can do so much more than calm anxiety and lower your heart rate. A recent study found that a type of breath training, paired with an over-the-counter breathing device, can help lower blood pressure (BP) by almost 10 points.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology earlier this month, practiced breathwork, or breathing exercises, with a total of 128 healthy adults, aged 18 to 82, for six weeks.

Daniel Harrison Craighead, Ph.D., assistant research professor of integrative physiology of aging laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder, and co-author of the study, says breathwork is a broad term that refers to any sort of conscious control of breathing. Many types have been shown to have effects on BP when performed regularly for 30 minutes per day, according to Craighead. The specific type of breathwork used in the study for lowering BP is high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training, (IMST), which involves taking 30 resisted breaths a day for five to 10 minutes through a handheld device that provides resistance. The trick is that each of those 30 inhales is really challenging and requires a lot of effort, he says.

According to Craighead, initial reductions in BP are observed within two weeks, which is faster than the BP benefits usually seen with more conventional forms of exercise. And your BP will continue to decline over at least the first six weeks of training and may decline more with prolonged training, he says.

High blood pressure can lead to a slew of health issues, such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. Recent research has even found Americans’ blood pressure has been on the rise and was significantly higher during the COVID-19 pandemic than pre-pandemic. So now, more than ever, it’s important to take preventative measures and stay on top of your health.

Ahead, Craighead breaks down everything you need to know about breath training for lowering blood pressure.

How does breath training lower blood pressure?

IMST likely lowers BP in a few different ways, he explains. One is by turning down the activity of the sympathetic nervous system—your fight-or-flight response. People with high BP tend to have this system overactivated and the deep breathing techniques with IMST likely lower the activity. Another main mechanism is by improving the health of endothelial cells—the cells lining the inside of blood vessels and are critical for cardiovascular health. IMST might lower BP by making these cells function better.

How does it work?

During a single session, users will perform 30 resisted inspirations through a handheld device (he used the POWERbreathe) featuring an end-piece that loosely resembles a snorkel; there is no resistance to exhaling. You breathe in through the mouthpiece as quickly and powerfully as possible, trying to make as full of a breath as you can. While doing this, the device is providing resistance, making the inhale very challenging. The study had people do five sets of six successive resisted inhales, with a one-minute break of unresisted breathing between each set. Craighead notes that the last set of six breaths is usually very challenging and users will struggle to overcome the resistance of the device.

Who should try it?

Everyone should consult with their physician before performing IMST to make sure it is safe for them. In general, though, IMST will be safe for most people. Most of the research on IMST has been done in healthy adults or in adults with high BP. Thus far Craighead says they’ve seen that the BP benefits of IMST aren’t really impacted by age, sex, or body weight, suggesting IMST will be generally effective at lowering BP in most people. He says researchers are still studying various patient populations though, as such, we don’t currently know how effective IMST is for people with serious chronic illnesses.

If you’re interested in trying breathwork for lowering blood pressure, consult your doctor before purchasing any devices and practicing at home.

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(MENAFN- The Conversation)

Dogs have a long history alongside humans, giving them an amazing ability to read human cues. Dogs also possess an incredible sense of smell, which enables them to detect diseases, and , in humans from odour alone. Whether dogs' capabilities extend to detecting odours associated with psychological states has been explored far less.

When people are stressed, there are hormonal and nervous system changes that alter the kinds of odours produced by the body. My colleagues and I wanted to know if dogs can discriminate between odour samples taken from the same person before and after becoming stressed. To do this, we took ideas from the field of biomedical detection dogs (sniffer dogs in a laboratory setting) and combined these ideas with techniques used to test dogs' perceptions of odours.

Our results are published in the journal .

To test whether dogs could detect an odour associated with psychological stress, we attached sensors to the study participants to continuously measure their heart rate and blood pressure. Participants also rated how stressed they were feeling before and after taking part in the task.

Before the task started, participants wiped gauze on the back of their neck, placed it into a sterile glass vial, and exhaled into the vial. We then got the participants to perform a rapid mental arithmetic task to induce stress in them.

After the task, participants provided another rating of their stress and two additional sweat/breath samples.

The total time between the collection of the relaxed (pre-task) and stressed (post-task) samples was four minutes, reducing the likelihood that the participants experienced changes other than the onset of stress.

We only included samples in the study if the person reported finding the task stressful, and both their heart rate and blood pressure had increased during the task. We presented samples from 36 people to the dogs.

The training process

The dogs included in this study were pets, volunteered by their owners, who were trained using positive reinforcement by researchers in a laboratory once a week. Before formal data collection began, dogs were taught to communicate that they were picking a sample by standing and freezing above it for several seconds or sitting in front of it – we called this their“alert behaviour”.

The dogs were then taught a matching game, where they learned to discriminate between samples with known odour differences. Once it was established that the dogs were successful at this, they were ready to be tested.

At testing, we tasked the dogs with discriminating between a person's samples taken before and after the arithmetic task. To teach the dogs what odour they should be looking for in each testing session, they were first shown the person's stress sweat/breath sample alongside two“control samples” – clean gauze in glass vials with no sweat or breath.

The dogs were allowed to sniff all three samples and were rewarded for alerting the researchers to the sweat/breath sample.

After ten exposures, a second breath/sweat sample was added to the line-up: the same person's relaxed sample. Here began the test of discrimination, which took place over the next 20 trials. It was the dogs' job to communicate, through their alert behaviour, which sample they perceived as the same as the one shown to them in the previous ten trials, that is, which sample smelled like the stress sample. Because dogs might use other information to help them make a choice, we included both visual and odour controls.

Dogs have been trained to smell COVID. LaPresse / Alamy Stock Photo

If these two odours smell the same to the dog, we would expect them to pick either by chance. If the two odours smell different, they would be able to consistently find the odour first presented to them: the stress odour. Each sample set from participants was used only once, so the dogs saw samples from a different person during each session.

From the very first time the dogs were exposed to these samples, they perceived the samples as smelling different. The dogs correctly chose the stress sample in 94% of 720 trials, showing that the participants' psychological experience of the arithmetic task had resulted in their body emitting odours in their breath and sweat that the dogs could detect.

It should be noted that this study does not determine whether the dogs perceived the stress samples as reflecting a negative emotional state. It is likely that in a real-life setting dogs use a variety of contextual cues, such as our body language, tone of voice, or breathing rate, to help them understand a situation. However, the results provide firm evidence that odour is also a component that dogs can pick up on.

Establishing that dogs can detect an odour associated with human stress provides deeper knowledge of the human-dog relationship and adds to our understanding of how dogs perceive and interact with human psychological states. This knowledge could also be useful for the training of anxiety and PTSD service dogs that are currently trained to respond predominantly to visual cues.

The Conversation

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Global Airway Clearance Systems Market: Introduction

The global airway clearance systems market is expected to reach USD 1.7 Billion by 2023 from USD 1.12 Billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 7.4%.

The growth of this market is propelled by the prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases, technological advancements in airway clearance systems, and increasing awareness about the availability of these systems. However, the high cost of airway clearance systems and the lack of trained personnel are restraining factors for this market’s growth. The airway clearance systems market is growing at a rapid pace due to the increasing prevalence of respiratory diseases and the rising pollution levels. These systems help in clearing the airways and prevent the accumulation of mucus, which can lead to infections. There are various types of airway clearance systems available in the market, such as positive expiratory pressure devices, chest physiotherapy devices, and suction devices.

This report provides valuable information to shareholders, new entrants, frontrunners, and shareholders. It helps them formulate strategies for the future, as well as take the necessary steps to strengthen their market position. The report includes graphical representations and tabular representations to provide an in-depth analysis of every segment as well as their sub-segments. This report is intended to aid market players, investors, new entrants, and others in formulating strategies based on the fastest-growing segments and highest revenue generation. Market.us data from the latest shows that North America in 2021 will be the largest Airway Clearance Systems market. Mexico, Canada and the US are experiencing nominal CAGRs of [2022-2031] above the global average.

Identify the key factors that will drive your company’s growth. Request a brochure of this report here: market.us/report/airway-clearance-systems-market/request-sample/

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Airway Clearance Systems Market – Competitive Landscape

Monaghan Medical Corporation
Koninklijke Philips N.V.
Vortran Medical Technology
Others

Competitive Benchmarking

Competitive benchmarking allows you to see how your competitors are doing and compare it to your company’s. Market.us professionals assist our stakeholders in keeping track of competitors, identifying improvement areas, increasing profits, and designing better go-to-market strategies.

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Airway Clearance Systems Market Segmentation

Based on the type, the Airway Clearance Systems market is segmented into

Positive expiratory pressure devices
Intrapulmonary percussive ventilation
Oral high-frequency oscillation
High-frequency chest wall oscillation
Flutter devices and
Incentive spirometry

Based on the application, the Airway Clearance Systems market is segmented into

Hospitals
Clinics
Ambulatory Surgical Centers

Market Breakup by Region:

– North America (United States, Canada)

– Asia Pacific (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Others)

– Europe (Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Russia, Others)

– Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Others)

– The Middle East and Africa

Market Report Coverage and Deliverables will help you to understand:

1. Company revenue shares | revenue (US$ Mn)

2. Upcoming Regional opportunities

3. Latest trends & Market dynamics

4. Competitive benchmarking

5. Key Financial Charts

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Q5. What is the potential of the Airway Clearance Systems Market?

Q6. Who are the prominent players in Airway Clearance Systems Market?

Q7. What are the different types of Airway Clearance Systems market?

Q8. What are the top strategies that companies adopt in Airway Clearance Systems Market?

Q9. What is the future of Airway Clearance Systems?

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While World Lung Day on 25 September has come and gone, lung health is still something which needs to be considered.

Taking care of your lungs is now more important than ever. If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s how we take breathing for granted.

Breathing is a function we need to survive but because it is involuntary, it is easily overlooked. To know if you have healthy lungs, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor or pulmonary specialist.

However, most people who have lung problems will already know that they get short of breath very quickly, have tight chests or battle with breathing in general.

Poor lungs or bad breathing habits lead to low energy, slower metabolism and poor sleep. Steven Sadie, managing director at Airofit SA, gave some pointers on better lung health and breathing.

“The best way to increase lung health is to stop bad habits and immediately start breathing exercises and RMT [respiratory muscle training],” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the following about RMT: “Increasing exercise and fitness can be aided by RMT. RMT can improve breathing through reducing the effort required by the body as it breathes.

Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) is facilitated through the loading of inspiration, normally by using a breathing device.”

Sadie added: “We have had post-Covid patients down and out for months not able to recover who, once they start training their lungs, are able get back to normal in no time.”

Lung capacity can be measured as the full amount of gas in the lungs after a full inspiration – but normally measured on your expiratory amount.

Over time, our lung capacity and lung function typically decrease slowly as we age after our mid-20s. “There are many exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing – or “belly breathing” – to engage the diaphragm, and pursed lips breathing, said Sadie.

There are other options for breath training such as making use of the PEP flute, he added. You can live three weeks without food, four to five days without water but most people can’t live for more than a few minutes without breathing.

“So putting some time and effort into lung health makes sense,” said Sadie.

“By just spending five to 10 minutes a day exercising, you will have all you need to make a huge difference in your life. The biggest bonus is that you do not do this while running, at the gym or under duress, you do this calmly in your own home sitting on the couch.”

ALSO READ: Cleaning products can affect lung health in women but not men

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta. (Dreamstime/TNS) (Dreamstime)

(Tribune News Service) — Doctors should be on the lookout for cases of a respiratory virus that can sometimes cause polio-like muscle weakness and paralysis in children, U.S. health officials said.

Young children with respiratory illnesses and muscle weakness may be infected with enterovirus D68, a lung virus strain that's been linked to rare, serious cases acute flaccid myelitis, a nervous system ailment, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Tuesday. The most common signs and symptoms seen in hospitalized children have been shortness of breath or rapid, shallow breathing, wheezing, coughing and nasal congestion. Infections can also worsen asthma symptoms.

While polio is one of the most dangerous enteroviruses, most other strains in the class are associated with mild disease. Peaks of enterovirus D68 cases and associated muscle weakness were noted in 2014, 2016 and 2018, the report said. While those waned in 2020, possibly as a result of masking and decreased social interaction during the early months of the pandemic, hospital visits from respiratory illness rose again during the summer of 2022.

In August, clinicians in several parts of the country told the CDC that they were seeing increases in hospitalizations of pediatric patients with severe respiratory illness and positive rhinovirus and enterovirus test results, the agency said. Among 5,633 children and adolescents needing emergency care or requiring hospitalization for respiratory illness from March 1 through Sept. 20, about 17% were positive for enterovirus D68. The rate during July and August 2022 was higher than during the same months of 2017, 2019 and 2021, and similar to the same period in 2018, the report said.

"Ongoing surveillance is necessary to understand when and where future circulation and EV-D68-associated severe illness might occur, given the potential changes in virus circulation and population immunity related to COVID-19 mitigation measures," the CDC said.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Many of us are familiar with the feeling of anxiety, especially ahead of important occasions. But those are usually one-offs, like a first date or a medical procedure. When that feeling of anxiety turns chronic and happens after specific triggers, it becomes a psychiatric disorder.

The Lancet estimates that about 76.2 million people worldwide have anxiety disorders – more than before due to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic. [1] this makes it more essential than ever that countries employ strong mental health support systems to aid people’s psychological well-being. But you can’t get treatment without first getting a diagnosis.

If you suspect you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, here are 5 signs to watch out for.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions. It’s different from simple fear or nervousness, as it actively hinders your ability to function normally. There are often triggers (conscious or otherwise) that cause these feelings of panic and dread, and you cannot control your emotional response.

You may feel anxiety prior to a job interview or a significant test. Your anxiety may even be a positive response to a hazardous situation. But when that anxiety becomes chronic – or regularly triggered by some stimulus – and interferes with your daily life, that indicates a deeper underlying condition. [2]

Types of anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorders share common symptoms and manifestations, but emerge from different triggers. Some types of anxiety disorders include [3]:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder: This is a persistent feeling of unease or dread that interferes with your daily life. You may experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time, which affects your ability to function.
  • Phobias: Phobias emerge from a specific trigger, such as social situations (social anxiety), objects, or even other people.
  • Panic disorder: If a person suffers several panic attacks over a short period of time, they are diagnosed with a panic disorder.

Signs of an anxiety disorder

There are several symptoms of an anxiety disorder, which vary depending on the type of condition a person has. But here are 5 common ones that manifest in people. [4]

#1 – Feelings of panic or unease

A person suffering from anxiety will consistently and regularly feel sudden, intense panic or unease. There is usually a trigger, whether the person is aware of the trigger or not. 

For example, a person with generalised anxiety may feel triggered by their academic classes and tests. A person with social phobia may feel panicked at the thought of attending a wedding or presenting in front of their classmates and professor.

While on-off occurrences of panic and unease are normal in humans, persistent and uncontrollable panic is a sign of a genuine psychiatric issue.

A person suffering from anxiety will consistently and regularly feel sudden, intense panic or unease

#2 – Obsessive or intrusive thoughts

Intrusive thoughts tend to come out of nowhere, appearing unprompted in our minds. They may be related to the situation at hand, or they may be related to a previous experience that you suddenly remember. Intrusive thoughts tend to focus on violent or otherwise socially unacceptable concepts.

A person suffering from intrusive thoughts may get the sudden impulse to break a glass when they see one. That intrusive thought then triggers or adds to anxiety, since they recognise the wrongness of the concept and fear that they might act on it. [5]

#3 – Breathing and heart issues

Shortness of breath is a common sign of anxiety and may be a signal of an oncoming panic attack. A person suffering an anxiety attack may feel they are unable to breathe, as if their chest and lungs are constricted. In most cases it is harmless and will lift as soon as the anxiety passes.

Difficulty breathing leads to less oxygen in our bloodstream, which triggers an increased heartrate as your heart tries to pump more blood to your organs. This may also cause some chest pain and sweating. [6]

Shortness of breath is a common sign of anxiety, and may be a signal of an oncoming panic attack

#4 – Inability to calm down

For neurotypical persons, when they experience anxiety, they are often able to calm themselves down and mitigate the feeling. However, for those suffering an anxiety disorder, they are unable to regulate their breathing and lower their heartrate because the feeling is so intense and persistent.

Persons suffering an anxiety attack cannot simply “calm down” and feel better in a few minutes. The feeling of anxiety will persist, often even after the trigger has been removed or addressed.

#5 – Frequent dizziness and nausea

Shortness of breath and rapid heartbeats often lead to dizziness due to the lack of oxygen in your blood. People feel dizzy for a variety of reasons – dehydration or sleep deprivation, for example – but if your dizziness is paired with a strong feeling of unease or dread, that’s often a sign of anxiety.

Meanwhile, that fear may also trigger nausea. Your brain is experiencing a high level of stress, which affects many systems in your body – including your digestive system. You may feel like vomiting or like you’ve bloated, and you may even experience a stomach ache or acid reflux. [7]

Diagnosing anxiety

If you experience a combination of these symptoms over an extended period of time, there is a high chance you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. Speak to your healthcare provider and request that they refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your general practitioner may first attempt to rule out a physiological cause, such as a virus or bacterium.

A psychiatrist or psychologist will use specialised tests and assessment tools to diagnose your disorder. They may interview you closely and examine your symptoms to determine your diagnosis. It is especially important to emphasise the detriment your symptoms have on your daily life. [8]

Managing your anxiety

There are several strategies you can take to manage and mitigate your anxiety. Some involve self-coping mechanisms such as yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques. Adjusting your diet and exercise routines may also improve your symptoms. And of course, your psychiatrist may prescribe you medication to medically address your condition. [9]

Anxiety may affect your quality of life and ability to function, but you can take steps so it does not prevent you from living your life. If you suspect you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder based on these signs and others, consult your doctor at the soonest possible time. 

REFERENCES

[1] www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02143-7/fulltext
[2] psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders
[3] www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
[4] uhs.umich.edu/anxietypanic#symptoms
[5] adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/unwanted-intrusive-thoughts
[6] www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326831#the-connection
[7] www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/anxiety-nausea#causes
[8] my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders#symptoms-and-causes
[9] adaa.org/tips

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DALY CITY – San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa announced that he has sent a letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta urging him to investigate Sutter Health’s use of federal CARES Act dollars. The not-for-profit health care giant received $853 million in CARES Act funding, yet closed the Mack E. Mickelson therapy pool, the only warm water rehabilitation facility of its kind on the Peninsula.

“The federal CARES Act of 2020 was passed for the express purpose of keeping vital medical and community resources like the Mickelson therapy pool open during the COVID pandemic,” Canepa said. “Yet despite receiving nearly a billion dollars in funding, Sutter closed the pool. For many, the therapy pool was the only way to ease their pain and have a decent quality of life. Losing that facility has caused untold suffering for the very people the CARES Act was passed to protect.”

The Mack E. Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center in San Mateo was built to serve the health needs of the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula community. Opened in 1996, the Mickelson Center was financed in its entirety by $4 million in community donations ($7.2 million in today’s dollars.) The Mickelson Center’s warm water therapy pool was—and remains—the only such facility in San Mateo County that meets ADA requirements. For 25 years—until Sutter needlessly closed it—the pool was a unique, vital resource for community members facing the loss of their physical mobility.

Supervisor Canepa was joined in his announcement by Warm Water Wellness Inc, a nonprofit advocacy group for warm water therapy pools on the Peninsula. “The Mickelson therapy pool is an invaluable resource for chronic pain management and rehabilitation for seniors, disabled individuals, patients recovering from surgeries, children with special needs, and pregnant women,” said Lindsay Raike, CEO of Warm Water Wellness. “By closing the pool, not-for-profit Sutter Health sends a strong message that it is not interested in the quality of life of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Government agencies throughout San Mateo County have joined Canepa and Warm Water Wellness in advocating for the reopening of the Mickelson pool. “The San Mateo Board of Supervisors, the Sequoia Healthcare District, and a dozen city councils up and down the Peninsula have passed resolutions or written letters to Sutter in support of reopening the Mickelson therapy pool,” said Raike. “They understand that availability of warm water therapy as a core service is necessary to support the health and well-being of the community.”

Sutter has offered varying excuses for closing the pool, including “continued uncertainty surrounding COVID,” a ‘focus on … acute care services,” and efforts to be “good stewards of resources.”

“None of Sutter’s excuses holds water,” said Canepa. “For starters, therapeutic pools in San Mateo County were explicitly exempt from restrictions during COVID, so there was no reason to close the pool. Also, as of year-end 2020, Sutter had accumulated a nest egg of ‘resources’ that included $7.967 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. And that’s not even counting the federal CARES act funds Sutter received that were specifically allocated to save services imperiled by COVID. Frankly, I question whether Sutter Health is, in fact, meeting the obligation of its not-for-profit status.”

Despite strenuous efforts to open a dialogue with Sutter regarding the therapy pool—including petitions, protests, and even a multi-million dollar offer from the Peninsula Health Care District to fully fund repairs, retrofitting and operational costs of the pool until a replacement facility can be built—local community members have been unable to gain any traction with the healthcare giant. “I personally tried to broker a meeting between Sutter Health and local stakeholders, but Sutter refused,” said Canepa.

Sutter’s community neglect is not limited to the closure of the Mickelson Center and its therapy pool. Over the past decade, Sutter has cut at least 22 vital programs, a significant number of which — such as the Senior Focus Adult Day Program, Phase 3 Cardiac Rehab/Phase 3 Pulmonary Rehab, and the Post Stroke Program — benefited seniors and the disabled. “Closing programs that CARES Act dollars are designed to save is a betrayal of both the local community and the federal taxpayer,” said Canepa. “We hope the Attorney General will conduct a thorough investigation.”

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Editor's note: Find the latest long COVID news and guidance in Medscape's Long COVID Resource Center.

Long COVID: The name says it all. It's an illness that, for many people, has not yet stopped.

Eric Roach became ill with COVID-19 in November 2020, and he's still sick. "I have brain fog, memory loss," says the 67-year-old Navy veteran from Spearfish, SD. "The fatigue has just been insane."

Long COVID, more formally known as post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC), is the lay term to describe when people start to recover, or seem to recover, from a bout of COVID-19 but then continue to suffer from symptoms. For some, it's gone on for 2 years or longer. While the governments of the U.S. and several other countries formally recognize the existence of long COVID, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has yet to formally define it. There's no approved treatment, and the causes are not understood.

Here's what is known: Long COVID is a post-viral condition affecting a large percentage of people who become infected with the coronavirus. It can be utterly debilitating or mildly annoying, and it is affecting enough people to cause concern for employers, health insurers, and governments.

First, the Many Symptoms

According to the CDC, long COVID symptoms may include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life

  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as "post-exertional malaise")

  • Fever

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Cough

  • Chest pain

  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (heart palpitations)

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as "brain fog")

  • Headache

  • Sleep problems

  • Dizziness when standing

  • Pins-and-needles feelings

  • Change in smell or taste

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain

  • Joint or muscle pain

  • Rash

  • Changes in menstrual cycles

"People with post-COVID conditions may develop or continue to have symptoms that are hard to explain and manage," the CDC says on its website. "Clinical evaluations and results of routine blood tests, chest x-rays, and electrocardiograms may be normal. The symptoms are similar to those reported by people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and other poorly understood chronic illnesses that may occur after other infections."

Doctors may not fully appreciate the subtle nature of some of the symptoms.

"People with these unexplained symptoms may be misunderstood by their health care providers, which can result in a long time for them to get a diagnosis and receive appropriate care or treatment," the CDC says.

Health professionals should recognize that long COVID can be disabling,the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says. "Long COVID can substantially limit a major life activity," HHS says in civil rights guidance. One possible example: "A person with long COVID who has lung damage that causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and related effects is substantially limited in respiratory function, among other major life activities," HHS says.

How Many People Are Affected?

This has been difficult to judge because not everyone who has had COVID-19 gets tested for it and there are no formal diagnostic criteria yet for long COVID. The CDC estimates that 19% of patients in the U.S. who have ever had COVID-19 have long COVID symptoms.


Some estimates go higher. A University of Oxford study in September 2021 found more than a third of patients had symptoms of long COVID between 3 months and 6 months after a COVID-19 diagnosis. As many as 55% of COVID-19 patients in one Chinese study had one or more lingering symptoms 2 years later, Lixue Huang, MD, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues reported in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine in May.

According to the CDC, age is a factor. "Older adults are less likely to have long COVID than younger adults. Nearly three times as many adults ages 50-59 currently have long COVID than those age 80 and older," the CDC says. Women and racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be affected.

Many people are experiencing neurological effects, such as the so-called brain fog, according to Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine and the VA St. Louis Health Care System, writing in the journal Nature Medicine in September. They estimated that 6.6 million Americans have brain impairments associated with COVID infection.

"Some of the neurologic disorders reported here are serious chronic conditions that will impact some people for a lifetime," they wrote. "Given the colossal scale of the pandemic, and even though the absolute numbers reported in this work are small, these may translate into a large number of affected individuals around the world — and this will likely contribute to a rise in the burden of neurologic diseases."

Causes

It's not clear what the underlying causes are, but most research points to a combination of factors.Suspects include ongoing inflammation, tiny blood clots, and reactivation of what are known as latent viruses, or those that linger quietly in your body without causing damage. In May, Brent Palmer, PhD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and colleagues found people with long COVID had persistent activation of immune cells known as T-cells that were specific for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 itself can damage organs, and long COVID might be caused by ongoing damage. In August, Alexandros Rovas, MD, of University Hospital Munster in Germany, and colleagues found patients with long COVID had evidence of damage to their capillaries. "Whether, to what extent, and when the observed damage might be reversible remains unclear," they wrote in the journal Angiogenesis.

People with long COVID have immune responses to other viruses, such as Epstein-Barr -- evidence that COVID-19 might reactivate latent viruses. "Our data suggest the involvement of persistent antigen, reactivation of latent herpesviruses, and chronic inflammation," immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, of the Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in a study posted in August that had not yet been peer-reviewed for publication.

This might be causing an autoimmune response. "The infection may cause the immune system to start making autoantibodies that attack a person's own organs and tissues," the NIH says.

There could be other factors. A study by Harvard researchers found that people who felt stressed, depressed, or lonely before catching COVID-19 were more likely to develop long COVID afterward. "Distress was more strongly associated with developing long COVID than physical health risk factors such as obesity, asthma, and hypertension," Siwen Wang, MD, a research fellow with Harvard University'sT.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. Plus, nearly 44% of those in the study developed COVID-19 infections after having been assessed for stress, Wang and colleagues reported in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Vaccine Protection

There's evidence that vaccination protects against long COVID, both by preventing infection in the first place, but also even for people who have breakthrough infections.

A meta-analysis covering studies involving 17 million people found evidence vaccination might reduce the severity of COVID-19 or might help the body clear any lingering virus after an infection.

"Overall, vaccination was associated with reduced risks or odds of long COVID, with preliminary evidence suggesting that two doses are more effective than one dose," Cesar Fernandez de las Penas, PhD, of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues wrote.

A team in Milan, Italy, found unvaccinated people in their study were nearly three times as likely to have serious symptoms for longer than 4 weeks compared to vaccinated volunteers. Writing in July in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Elena Azzolini, MD, PhD, an assistant professor atthe Humanitas Research Hospital, said the team found two or three doses of vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID to 16% or 17% compared to 42% for the unvaccinated.

Treatments

With no diagnostic criteria and no understanding of the causes, it's hard for doctors to determine treatments.

Most experts dealing with long COVID, even those at the specialty centers that have been set up at hospitals and health systems in the U.S.,recommend that patients start with their primary care doctor before moving on to specialists.

"The mainstay of management is supportive, holistic care, symptom control, and detection of treatable complications," Trish Greenhalgh, MD, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, and colleagues wrote in the journal The BMJ in September. "Patients with long COVID greatly value input from their primary care clinician. Generalist clinicians can help patients considerably by hearing the patient's story and validating their experience … (and) making the diagnosis of long COVID (which does not have to be by exclusion) and excluding alternative diagnoses."

Evidence is building that long COVID closely resembles other post-viral conditions -- something that can provide clues for treatment. For example, several studies indicate that exercise doesn't help most patients.

But there are approaches that can work. Treatments may include pulmonary rehabilitation; autonomic conditioning therapy, which includes breathing therapy; and cognitive rehabilitation to relieve brain fog. Doctors are also trying the antidepressant amitriptyline to help with sleep disturbances and headaches; the antiseizure medication gabapentin to help pain, numbness, and other neurological symptoms; and drugs to relieve low blood pressure in patients experiencing postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

The NIH is sponsoring studies that have recruited just over 8,200 adults. And more than two dozen researchers from Harvard; Stanford; the University of California, San Francisco; the J. Craig Venter Institute; Johns Hopkins University; the University of Pennsylvania; Mount Sinai Hospitals; Cardiff University; and Yale announced in September they were forming the Long COVID Research Initiative to speed up studies.

The group, with funding from private enterprise, plans to conduct tissue biopsy, imaging studies, and autopsies and will search for potential biomarkers in the blood of patients.

Sources

CDC: "Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions."

CDC National Center for Health Statistics: "Nearly One in Five American Adults Who Have Had COVID-19 Still Have 'Long COVID.'"

National Institutes of Health: "Long COVID," "Long COVID symptoms linked to inflammation."

PLoS Medicine: "Incidence, co-occurrence, and evolution of long-COVID features: A 6-month retrospective cohort study of 273,618 survivors of COVID-19."

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine: "Health outcomes in people 2 years after surviving hospitalisation with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study."

Angiogenesis: "Persistent capillary rarefication in long COVID syndrome."

PLoS Pathogens: "SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells associate with inflammation and reduced lung function in pulmonary post-acute sequalae of SARS-CoV-2."

Lancet eClinical Medicine: "Impact of COVID-19 vaccination on the risk of developing long-COVID and on existing long-COVID symptoms: A systematic review."

JAMA Psychiatry: "Associations of Depression, Anxiety, Worry, Perceived Stress, and Loneliness Prior to Infection With Risk of Post–COVID-19 Conditions."

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Guidance on 'Long COVID' as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557."

Long COVID Research Initiative:"Introducing LCRI."

Nature Medicine: "Long-term Neurologic Outcomes of COVID-19."

The BMJ: "Long covid—an update for primary care."



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Suzanne Purdy

Dr Suzanne Purdy is the head of School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, and Principal Investigator with the Centre for Brain Research (CBR).at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland.

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Health & Science

The University of Auckland's Celebration Choir shows the mental as well as physical benefits of group singing for those with neurological conditions 

As most of us know, there is something about music that moves us, uplifts us, brings us together, makes us feel better about ourselves. Music is a big part of most people’s lives, and our ability to make music – to sing – often survives when other abilities fade.

That singing is good for our wellbeing is well-known, and as members of our Celebration Choir – set up for people with neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s and dementia – would testify.

Celebration Choir was started by the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research and was the first neurological choir in the country. Through our team’s research and the advocacy of choir members, similar choirs have now been formed around the country, in Orewa, Tauranga, Christchurch, Wellington and Nelson. These initiatives reflect local and international interest and growing research investigating the potential of singing in neurorehabilitation.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, which runs until 2 October, has a theme of “Reconnect with the people and places that lift you up” – and for that, we’d thoroughly recommend joining a choir.

Our choirs survived and thrived during the pandemic, with members using Zoom to sing together. Our various choirs are now attracting new members, as well as fielding enquiries from people who would like to join such a choir.

Members of the Celebration Choir using Zoom during Covid restrictions. Photo: Supplied

Whether they had sung in community choirs when they were younger or hadn’t sung with others since they were a child or had been told as a child they couldn’t sing, our choir members are finding their voices, and advocating for more choirs for more people like themselves.

A neurological condition can affect mobility, communication and all aspects of daily life. The Celebration Choir brings together people who are experiencing the same fears and challenges in a community of mutual support.

Neurological choirs are not your average community choir: they are social singing groups particularly aimed at addressing voice, speech, and language difficulties. We include warm-ups, breathing and vocal exercises, less complex arrangements and part-singing songs for enjoyment and to work on our members’ voice, speech, language and memory goals.

Our research has shown our choir members value choir for improvements in their mood, speech, communication, and breathing

There are psychological, wellbeing benefits of bringing people together to have fun, but also physiological benefits. Singing and speaking share overlapping neurological networks and use the same physiological processes of breathing, vocalisation and articulation. Many stroke survivors struggle with aphasia, a problem with word-finding and speech. Some new choir members are surprised they can sing or learn a new song, when conversation is so difficult for them; others haven’t been able to talk fluently, but they retain the ability to sing.

People with Parkinson’s often develop dysarthria, an inability to control the muscles used in speech resulting in a quiet voice and unclear speech, but research has shown that singing regularly helps such people maintain or improve the strength of their voice.

Our research team recently published a study of 90 adults who belonged to a community choir or a neurological choir and were pleased to find choir participation benefits people living with a neurological condition as much as those who didn’t have such conditions. As expected, people with neurological conditions scored lower in the physical domain than other participants when they completed the World Health Organisation’s quality of life questionnaire. However, scores for psychological, social relationships and environmental questions were similar across all participants, supporting links between choir membership and general wellbeing.

Neurological choirs are bringing researchers together from different disciplines – music therapy, speech science, psychology and neuroscience. While neuroscience researchers extend their knowledge, understanding and treatment options for neurological conditions, allied health professionals, including music therapists and speech-language therapists, play important roles in rehabilitation and psychosocial wellbeing.

Our research has shown our choir members value choir for improvements in their mood, speech, communication, and breathing: for friendship and social interaction, for the no-pressure environment, and the challenge it provides, of learning lyrics, tunes, and then singing them.

Neurological conditions can affect people of all ages, but predominantly older generations. Shifting population demographics throughout the world mean an increase in the proportion of older people and an increase in the prevalence of acquired health conditions.

In an ideal world we would have neurological choirs in centres throughout the country, to offer people living with neurological conditions the psychosocial and physiological benefits of coming together to sing together, to help people who may face an uncertain future to live as well as they can, and with joy in their lives.



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Some health care providers in Arkansas are starting to offer services tailored to patients struggling to recover weeks or months after being diagnosed with covid-19.

An estimated one in five covid-19 survivors between 18 and 64 years old and one in four survivors 65 and older have a health condition related to their illness, according to a study released this year by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which included 63.4 million individuals.

Another 2022 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases estimated millions of Americans -- about 1.7% to 3.8% of the U.S. population -- experienced new, long-term symptoms that limited daily activities one month or longer after covid-19 infection.

"Because the coronavirus can attack the lungs, heart, brain and other organs, there can be lasting internal damage," said Sheena CarlLee, director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Long Covid Clinic, which opened Aug. 25 in Fayetteville.

Damage to vital organs can exacerbate long-term health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, blood disorders, neurological conditions and mental health disorders.

The new UAMS clinic brings together specialists in order to treat patients across the breadth of symptoms.

"We are seeing patients with a wide variety of symptoms that require a unique treatment regimen," CarlLee said. "Our long covid clinic offers extensive evaluation from a team of students and trained health care providers from the disciplines of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and radiation sciences."

Some of the most successful long covid clinics in the country are team-based clinics, which can dive into a variety of symptoms and devise a detailed plan, according to CarlLee.

The clinic team also works closely with researchers at the UAMS campus in Little Rock, and patients may opt in to participate in that research, she said.

UAMS bills through insurance, and the cost for patients at the long covid clinic will be the same as a primary care clinic visit, according to CarlLee.

LONG COVID

CarlLee, a UAMS internal medicine doctor, and other doctors at various UAMS campuses have seen former covid-19 patients with prolonged symptoms related to the infection, she said.

Sometimes long covid symptoms develop for people who had little or no symptoms upon their initial positive test, but long covid tends to affect those who had a more complicated initial infection, she said.

Based on recent research, people who stayed in the ICU, were put on a ventilator, are unvaccinated or have underlying medical conditions all seem more likely to develop long covid, according to CarlLee. Women also may be disproportionately affected, she said.

Long covid is still being defined by the scientific community, according to health officials, but it generally signifies new or lingering symptoms of the virus occurring at least three or four weeks after a positive covid-19 test.

Because the term has yet to be precisely defined, data varies on the condition's prevalence, said Jennifer Dillaha, director of the Arkansas Department of Health.

The symptoms and conditions associated with long covid, which will likely affect many people in the coming years, are consistent throughout the scientific literature, Rachel Levine, U.S. assistant secretary for health, wrote last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Symptoms such as shortness of breath, muscle aches, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell and problems with memory and concentration are among the more common symptoms. Heart palpitations, dizziness, diarrhea, stomach pain, rashes and joint or muscle pain have also been experienced post-covid, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Long covid isn't a singular case of long-term symptoms developing from viral infections, according to Dr. Marti Sharkey, Fayetteville's city health officer. Epstein-Barr virus is the cause of infectious mononucleosis, more commonly known as mono, she noted.

"It's not unusual to see prolonged systems. It's not surprising with a virus that has infected so many people," she said.

PATIENTS YOUNG AND OLD

In Central Arkansas, the Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center by Arkansas Heart Hospital offers a rehab program for long covid patients at facilities in Little Rock, Russellville, Conway and Bryant.

The center enrolled its first post-covid patients in January shortly after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance allowing programs to treat lingering symptoms of the disease, said Amanda Xaysuda, director of the center.

"We had all of that planned before then but once Medicare was paying for that and more research was coming out that it was beneficial in this patient population, that's when we decided to go for it," she said.

Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center's program focuses on pulmonary rehabilitation. Health care providers with the center help patients build their exercise tolerance and work on breathing exercises.

"Everything else we do is focused around the patient and what symptoms they are coming in with," said Xaysuda.

The program has helped post-covid patients dealing with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, an abnormal spike in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing.

While the program's oldest patients have been in their 90s, the youngest was 16. Many patients are in their 30s and 40s, a demographic the Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center isn't used to seeing.

"What we've always done is traditional cardiac rehab. Typically, our patients are Medicare age. They're 65 and older," said Xaysuda. "This is a whole new population of people."

Although Medicare and some private insurance companies cover pulmonary rehab for post-covid diagnoses, Xaysuda said Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield does not.

Other large Arkansas health care providers do not offer specialized clinics like the ones provided by UAMS and Arkansas Heart Hospital.

In a statement Thursday, spokesman Joshua Cook said CHI St. Vincent does not have a clinic dedicated to long covid treatment.

At Baptist Health, the prevalence of long covid is not high enough to warrant a specialty clinic, said Dr. Amanda Novack, medical director of infectious diseases in a statement Friday. Primary care physicians with Baptist Health nevertheless work with long covid patients to create personal care plans.

"These treatments might include specialized treatments such as physical therapy, nutritional support, cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation," said Novack in the statement.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Sharkey, the Fayetteville city health officer, said preventing transmission should still be a goal of the community.

"Every time we get infected with this virus, there's another risk for long covid. Just because you haven't had long covid doesn't mean you won't," she said. "We have people who got covid on the first wave in winter of 2020 that are still suffering.

"We're definitely a lot better than where we were a year ago, but we're not at the end yet," she said.

Sharkey recommends people experiencing long-term covid symptoms visit a clinic with a team-based multidisciplinary approach, like the UAMS clinic.

"You need a team approach to assess multiple organ systems and have a very tailored approach to the symptoms of the person," she said.

Getting vaccinated will help fight transmission of the virus, Dillaha said.

"I'd encourage people to get primary vaccination doses, followed by at least one booster dose. Take reasonable steps to avoid getting infected. Especially if you're at high risk for severe illness," Dillaha said.

Dillaha worries people, especially parents, are not informed about long covid and do not consider the risks of infection when deciding whether to get themselves or their children vaccinated.

Even with mild symptoms, people should still get tested for covid-19, because they may be eligible for treatment with Pfizer's anti-viral drug Paxlovid and be able to minimize the risks of infection, according to Dillaha.

Arkansas' death toll from covid-19 topped 12,000 Tuesday. Nationally, more than 1 million people have died as a result of covid-19 infection, according to the centers.

Appointments

Residents can schedule an appointment at the UAMS clinic at 1125 N. College Avenue in Fayetteville by calling (479) 713-8701.

Source: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

 

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Some health care providers in Arkansas are starting to offer services tailored to patients struggling to recover weeks or months after being diagnosed with covid-19.

An estimated one in five covid-19 survivors between 18 and 64 years old and one in four survivors 65 and older have a health condition related to their illness, according to a study released this year by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which included 63.4 million individuals.

Another 2022 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases estimated millions of Americans -- about 1.7% to 3.8% of the U.S. population -- experienced new, long-term symptoms that limited daily activities one month or longer after covid-19 infection.

"Because the coronavirus can attack the lungs, heart, brain and other organs, there can be lasting internal damage," said Sheena CarlLee, director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Long Covid Clinic, which opened Aug. 25 in Fayetteville.

Damage to vital organs can exacerbate long-term health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, blood disorders, neurological conditions and mental health disorders.

The new UAMS clinic brings together specialists in order to treat patients across the breadth of symptoms.

"We are seeing patients with a wide variety of symptoms that require a unique treatment regimen," CarlLee said. "Our long covid clinic offers extensive evaluation from a team of students and trained health care providers from the disciplines of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and radiation sciences."

Some of the most successful long covid clinics in the country are team-based clinics, which can dive into a variety of symptoms and devise a detailed plan, according to CarlLee.

The clinic team also works closely with researchers at the UAMS campus in Little Rock, and patients may opt in to participate in that research, she said.

UAMS bills through insurance, and the cost for patients at the long covid clinic will be the same as a primary care clinic visit, according to CarlLee.

LONG COVID

CarlLee, a UAMS internal medicine doctor, and other doctors at various UAMS campuses have seen former covid-19 patients with prolonged symptoms related to the infection, she said.

Sometimes long covid symptoms develop for people who had little or no symptoms upon their initial positive test, but long covid tends to affect those who had a more complicated initial infection, she said.

Based on recent research, people who stayed in the ICU, were put on a ventilator, are unvaccinated or have underlying medical conditions all seem more likely to develop long covid, according to CarlLee. Women also may be disproportionately affected, she said.

Long covid is still being defined by the scientific community, according to health officials, but it generally signifies new or lingering symptoms of the virus occurring at least three or four weeks after a positive covid-19 test.

Because the term has yet to be precisely defined, data varies on the condition's prevalence, said Jennifer Dillaha, director of the Arkansas Department of Health.

The symptoms and conditions associated with long covid, which will likely affect many people in the coming years, are consistent throughout the scientific literature, Rachel Levine, U.S. assistant secretary for health, wrote last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Symptoms such as shortness of breath, muscle aches, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell and problems with memory and concentration are among the more common symptoms. Heart palpitations, dizziness, diarrhea, stomach pain, rashes and joint or muscle pain have also been experienced post-covid, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Long covid isn't a singular case of long-term symptoms developing from viral infections, according to Dr. Marti Sharkey, Fayetteville's city health officer. Epstein-Barr virus is the cause of infectious mononucleosis, more commonly known as mono, she noted.

"It's not unusual to see prolonged systems. It's not surprising with a virus that has infected so many people," she said.

PATIENTS YOUNG AND OLD

In Central Arkansas, the Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center by Arkansas Heart Hospital offers a rehab program for long covid patients at facilities in Little Rock, Russellville, Conway and Bryant.

The center enrolled its first post-covid patients in January shortly after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance allowing programs to treat lingering symptoms of the disease, said Amanda Xaysuda, director of the center.

"We had all of that planned before then but once Medicare was paying for that and more research was coming out that it was beneficial in this patient population, that's when we decided to go for it," she said.

Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center's program focuses on pulmonary rehabilitation. Health care providers with the center help patients build their exercise tolerance and work on breathing exercises.

"Everything else we do is focused around the patient and what symptoms they are coming in with," said Xaysuda.

The program has helped post-covid patients dealing with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, an abnormal spike in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing.

While the program's oldest patients have been in their 90s, the youngest was 16. Many patients are in their 30s and 40s, a demographic the Strong Hearts Rehabilitation Center isn't used to seeing.

"What we've always done is traditional cardiac rehab. Typically, our patients are Medicare age. They're 65 and older," said Xaysuda. "This is a whole new population of people."

Although Medicare and some private insurance companies cover pulmonary rehab for post-covid diagnoses, Xaysuda said Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield does not.

Other large Arkansas health care providers do not offer specialized clinics like the ones provided by UAMS and Arkansas Heart Hospital.

In a statement Thursday, spokesman Joshua Cook said CHI St. Vincent does not have a clinic dedicated to long covid treatment.

At Baptist Health, the prevalence of long covid is not high enough to warrant a specialty clinic, said Dr. Amanda Novack, medical director of infectious diseases in a statement Friday. Primary care physicians with Baptist Health nevertheless work with long covid patients to create personal care plans.

"These treatments might include specialized treatments such as physical therapy, nutritional support, cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation," said Novack in the statement.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Sharkey, the Fayetteville city health officer, said preventing transmission should still be a goal of the community.

"Every time we get infected with this virus, there's another risk for long covid. Just because you haven't had long covid doesn't mean you won't," she said. "We have people who got covid on the first wave in winter of 2020 that are still suffering.

"We're definitely a lot better than where we were a year ago, but we're not at the end yet," she said.

Sharkey recommends people experiencing long-term covid symptoms visit a clinic with a team-based multidisciplinary approach, like the UAMS clinic.

"You need a team approach to assess multiple organ systems and have a very tailored approach to the symptoms of the person," she said.

Getting vaccinated will help fight transmission of the virus, Dillaha said.

"I'd encourage people to get primary vaccination doses, followed by at least one booster dose. Take reasonable steps to avoid getting infected. Especially if you're at high risk for severe illness," Dillaha said.

Dillaha worries people, especially parents, are not informed about long covid and do not consider the risks of infection when deciding whether to get themselves or their children vaccinated.

Even with mild symptoms, people should still get tested for covid-19, because they may be eligible for treatment with Pfizer's anti-viral drug Paxlovid and be able to minimize the risks of infection, according to Dillaha.

Arkansas' death toll from covid-19 topped 12,000 Tuesday. Nationally, more than 1 million people have died as a result of covid-19 infection, according to the centers.

 

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