‘Smart shirts’, which are already used to measure lung and heart function in athletes, have recently been tested to determine their reliability in monitoring the lung function of healthy people performing everyday activities. The shirts were found to be reliable, giving researchers hope that they may be used in the future to remotely monitor the lung function of people with lung disease.
Smart shirts, called Hexoskin, use the stretching and contraction of the fabric to sense the volume of air inhaled or exhaled with each breath. They then send this data to an app, where it can be reviewed. The Hexoskin is comfortable and could be worn under clothing, providing an alternative to the bulky equipment traditionally used to measure breathing.
Though the technology is expensive and more work is needed, this study provides hope that the lung function of lung disease sufferers could be monitored remotely and simply by doctors. This would have the advantage that any deterioration of the condition could be recognised at an earlier stage and appropriate medical interventions could be initiated more rapidly. According to one researcher, ” Ultimately, we want to improve patients’ quality of life. If we can accurately monitor patients’ symptoms while they go about their normal activities, we might be able to spot problems and treat them sooner, and this in turn could mean less time in hospital.”
A recent case report in the British Medical Journal finds that a man has been treated for severe lung inflammation and breathlessness as a result of an allergy to his feather bedding. The source was found after potential triggers – such as his pets and a small amount of mould in his home – had been ruled unlikely, and it was discovered that his symptoms had begun soon after the purchase of new feather bedding. Blood tests revealed antibodies to bird feather dust and he was diagnosed with ‘feather duvet lung’, a severe immune response to the organic dust from the goose or duck down found within duvets and pillows. Left untreated the condition can cause irreversible scarring to the lungs.
Exposure to allergens can worsen the symptoms of people who suffer from allergies. In many cases, the more allergens there are in an environment, the worse it gets for the sufferer; for some people reducing the amount of allergen can help. The success of this approach depends on which allergen a person is allergic to (you can get tested by your doctor to check this), but if you find that your allergy is to indoor allergens such as dust mites or pet dander it can be worth trying to reduce your exposure to those allergens in your home. Likewise, if your allergy is to pollen or other allergens usually found outside the home, then you can attempt to filter incoming air. This may not work for you – take medical advice first before spending lots of money on ‘anti-allergy’ devices. However, if you find that there may be some point in trying to reduce your exposure to allergens in the home you will find a variety of products designed to do this on the Allergy UK website.
The Asthma charity Allergy UK provides a wide range of services to people suffering from allergies, including supervising a range of retail products that have been properly tested and assessed for efficiency at reducing our exposure to a range of allergens. For those sensitive to fungi we would point out in particular the pillow & mattress covers and HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners, but there are many more. For some homes (or places of work) there are underlying problems of damp – removing the sources of damp will also reduce the amount of fungi in your home and should improve your allergies.
The Allergy UK Seal of Approval
Our main endorsement is the ‘Seal of Approval’. When you see a product with this logo on it, you have the reassurance that the product has been scientifically tested to prove it is efficient at reducing/removing allergens from the environment, or that the product has significantly reduced allergen/chemical content.
The testing is carried out by an independent laboratory to protocols which have been created for the Seal of Approval by leading allergy specialists, specifically to benefit the sufferers of allergy, asthma, sensitivity and intolerance.
Stoptober is an initiative which aims to help people quit smoking. The dangers of smoking are well understood, but for those with chronic lung conditions the risks can be even greater – for example smokers are 5 times more likely to catch the flu, a major complication for aspergillosis patients.
We have had 2 talks at the National Aspergillosis Centre patient and carer support meeting that mentioned smoking and aspergillosis. At one meeting, Dr Khaled Al-shair (National Aspergillosis Centre Researcher) spoke of several guidelines to help patients suffering from Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CPA) feel their best while being treated at the NAC. Exercise and good diet played their part but one of the major improvements many patients can make to their lifestyle was to stop smoking cigarettes.
We have also had a talk from our local ‘Stop Smoking’ nurse – this talk focused what can be done locally using UHSM (University Hospital of South Manchester) services; so if you are a NAC patient or live withing striking distance of UHSM (Manchester, UK) you can take advantage of this help directly. There was also extensive information for anyone about the advantages of giving up cigarettes and different strategies to employ when trying to find a way to stop smoking.
On the 20th October Yvonne Gibson will be doing a skydive in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the Aspergillosis Trust and Brain Tumour Research. See the Aspergillosis Trust for updates and Good Luck Yvonne!
Current NHS/PHE guidelines say that all adults should consider taking vitamin D supplements between October and March, or all year round if they are at risk of deficiency (e.g. people who have darker skin, or spend most of their time indoors or covered up).
But a new study suggests it might be even more important for people living with aspergillosis. Ferreira et al 2019 found that mice with a vitamin D deficiency experienced more kidney toxicity when given amphotericin B (lipid formulation). Click here to read more here.
If you haven’t had your levels tested recently, it might be worth getting your doctor to check them.
When taking vitamin D supplements:
For best absorption, take it with a meal containing fat and calcium
Check the label for the dosage – it should be 10-25 mcg per day, or 400-1000 IU (don’t rely on % RDA/NRV)
There are two forms: D3 (cholecalciferol) is more effective than D2 (ergocalciferol)