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Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have identified a potential new risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea: asthma.
 
Using data from the National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)-funded Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, which has been following approximately 1,500 people since 1988, researchers found that patients who had asthma were 1.70 times (95%>
 
"This is the first longitudinal study to suggest a causal relationship between asthma and sleep apnea diagnosed in laboratory-based sleep studies," said Mihaela Teodorescu, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the university, who will present the research at ATS 2013. "Cross-sectional studies have shown that OSA is more common among those with asthma, but those studies weren't designed to address the direction of the relationship."
 
The connection between asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was even stronger among participants who developed asthma as children. Childhood-onset asthma was associated with 2.34 times (95%>
 
The researchers also found that the duration of asthma affected the chances of developing sleep apnea. For every five-year increase in asthma duration, the chances of developing OSA after eight years increased by 10 percent. Participants in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, who were all between the ages of 30 and 60 in 1988, complete in-laboratory polysomnography, clinical assessments and health history questionnaires every four years. For the asthma-OSA study, the researchers focused on 773 cohort enrollees who did not have OSA (apnea-hypopnea index <5) when they joined the study and then determined whether their sleep apnea status had changed after eight years.
 
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A little of this root could help you breathe easier

 

It may be time to spice up your asthma treatment. A few components of ginger root appear to relax the airway tissues that tighten up during an attack, finds research presented at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference held in Philadelphia during May 17-22, 2013. 
 
The walls of the airways that carry oxygen to and from your lungs are lined with a type of muscle tissue called airway smooth muscle, or ASM, according to the research. Using ASM in a laboratory setting, a team from Columbia University simulated an asthma attack by dousing samples with a compound designed to tighten them up. Next, the researchers exposed the asthmatic tissue to mixtures containing three different ginger molecules. Here’s what they discovered: All three ginger components significantly relaxed the ASM tissue, which translates to wider airways and easier breathing during an asthma attack, the research shows.  
 
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May is a great month to renew your commitment to asthma, as we mark National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and World Asthma Day on the 7th.
 
Media will be looking for stories to cover, so give them a call and invite them out to your facility to see all the good things you’re doing to help asthma patients breathe easier. Then take a few moments to review all the asthma-related resources available to you through the AARC as well.
 
As you can see, we have an impressive array of programs, from those aimed at boosting your own knowledge of asthma, to those designed to help your organization gain recognition for its asthma education programs, to those you can use to reach out to your community.
 
Visit the AARC website for more information on how to reach out in your community here.
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More attention should be given to patients who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and concomitant asthma, after a study showed that nearly one-fifth of patients with COPD fall into this subtype.
 
Patients with overlap of the two conditions experienced poorer symptom control, had lower quality of life (QoL), and took part in less physical activity compared with other patients with COPD, despite having similar forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) values and less exposure to smoking.
 
"Clear diagnostic criteria and management guidelines for this phenotype must be developed and prospectively validated, and this phenotype should be incorporated in phenotype-guided management of COPD," say authors Marc Miravitlles (Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain) and colleagues.
 
The study included data on 3885 participants aged 40-80 years who were part of the population-based EPI-SCAN study. Overall, 385 participants had COPD, defined as a post-bronchodilator FEV1/forced vital capacity ratio of less than 0.7, of whom 67 (17.4%) had also been diagnosed with asthma.
 
The authors found that patients with overlap COPD-asthma were more likely to be women (55.2 vs 24.2%), to never have smoked (56.7 vs 19.5%), and have a significantly higher body mass index (29.1 vs 27.8 kg/m2) than non-overlap patients. However, spirometry and 6-minute walking test results were similar between the two groups.
 
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U.S.-born children have more allergies and asthma

 

Researchers surveyed the parents of 80,000 children in one of six languages and found that association held even after they took into account where families lived and how often they moved, as well as their race and income.
 
"This is definitely something we see clinically and we're trying to better understand, what is it in our environment that's increasing the risk of allergic disease?" said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, who studies allergies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago but wasn't involved in the new research.
 
"Food allergies have increased tremendously," she told Reuters Health. "We do see people who come from other countries don't tend to have it, but immigrants who are maybe second generation, they're identical (to U.S.-born people)."
 
It's not obvious what explains that pattern, researchers said.
 
According to Gupta, two possible culprits are the so-called hygiene hypothesis - which suggests kids in the U.S. are too clean, and their immune systems never get exposed to common allergens - or the poor quality of American diets.
 
Lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Silverberg from Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York said climate, obesity and various infections might also be playing a role.
 
"The results of the study suggest that there are environmental factors in the U.S. that trigger allergic disease," he told Reuters Health in an email.
 
"Children born outside the U.S. are likely not exposed to these factors early in life and are therefore less likely to develop allergic diseases."
 
Surveys were completed by parents of kids and teens in 2007 and 2008. Just over 20 percent of children born outside the U.S. had any type of allergic disease - including asthma, eczema, hay fever or food allergies - compared to between 34 and 35 percent of those born in the U.S.
 
What's more, the risk of allergies increased with the more time foreign-born children spent in the U.S., Silverberg and his colleagues wrote in JAMA Pediatrics.
 
For example, 27 percent of foreign-born kids who had immigrated more than a decade earlier had any type of allergy, according to their parents' reports, versus 17 to 18 percent of those who had moved to the U.S. within the past two years.
 
"You acclimate to wherever you are and you pick up whatever is going on there," Gupta explained. "The findings here are very...
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If you're among the 27 million North Americans with asthma, chances are it's triggered by allergies to airborne irritants in your environment (a whopping 75 percent of adults with sensitive airways have allergic asthma). Unfortunately, only 25 percent of people with asthma know what they're allergic to and how to avoid the triggers that make their airways constrict, swell and clog up with mucus. That may be why more than half of all PWA (people with asthma) have at least one asthma attack each year -- and why that scary "I can't breathe" feeling sends a half-million folks to the emergency room annually (and, we hate to add, needlessly kills thousands).
 
Clearly, if you have allergic asthma, identifying and avoiding your triggers -- and setting up a smart asthma treatment plan -- could be a lifesaver.
 
The allergens that are the most common wheezemakers include pollen (especially grass pollen), dust mites, mold, household pests like cockroaches and pets of all kinds. So you want to get hip to the asthma triggers and start hunting for your hazards.
 
 
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Children with asthma should play hard in gym class and stop worrying they might have an attack that could leave them struggling to breathe, respiratory specialists are now recommending.
 
Physical activity by people with asthma isn’t harmful and might even be helpful to treating the condition, doctors in the field believe. A report published last year in the Cochrane Database Systems Review, a journal that reviews health-care treatments and decision making, looked at 19 previous studies of exercise and asthma and concluded that people with the respiratory condition fared well with physical activity. The studies’ results ranged from showing no difference in patients’ asthma control to an increase in the number of symptom-free days and a decrease in asthma severity.
 
Laboratory studies on animals with asthma also have shown that exercise appears to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks, says Timothy Craig, an immunologist and allergist at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa. The experiments with mice found that exercise calms the activity of inflammatory proteins and peptides in airways that, when stimulated, cause an attack, he says.
 
“If you have good, controlled asthma, you should be able to exercise,” Dr. Craig says.
 
Fear of physical activity is real for many asthma patients. Exercise can spur an attack, in which the airways get inflamed and lung muscles contract, making it hard for people to catch their breath. If untreated, serious cases can lead to death.
 
Continue reading this article on WSJ.
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Spirometry, the most common type of pulmonary function test (PFT), is used to evaluate worker respiratory health in medical surveillance programs and to screen workers for their ability to perform certain tasks. Spirometry results can play a central role in decisions about worker job assignments and personal protective equipment, and in the assessment of exposure-related health effects.
 
To read the entire publication, visit OSHA's publication here.
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