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!
Many patients with respiratory conditions like aspergillosis report increased frequency of chest infections during the winter months, and this is mentioned repeatedly in our Facebook support groups (Public, Private). The cold weather brings problems of many kinds, but respiratory infection is one of the most serious. Infections by bacteria or virus have a major impact on their quality of life as their breathing becomes restricted and often they quickly become too exhausted to carry on with tasks of daily living.
Why does the winter cause increased vulnerability to respiratory infections? Is it because of the cold weather making us weaker and unable to fight off infection? In part – yes it is! Cold air cannot hold moisture as well as warmer air and thus cold air, is drier air. Inhaling dry air tends to dry out our airways and this can make us vulnerable to infection. This has two impacts – it irritates the lining of our airways and makes us cough, which itself increases our risk of infection, but it also dries out the mucous lining our airways and makes it more difficult to move – so we end up coughing much more than normal as we try to cough up this thickened substance.
People with chronic respiratory disease such as COPD, asthma, aspergillosis are particularly vulnerable to dry air as their airways are very sensitive to irritation.
Winter holds all kinds of pressures for the NHS and one of the biggest is a huge increase in people with respiratory conditions whose condition has become worse as a result of the cold weather. This video includes some advice on how to make sure the cold doesn’t affect your condition to prevent you from needing hospital treatment.
Reproduced with thanks, produced by NHS Blackpool CCG 2019
We Are Undefeatable is a campaign which aims to help those with chronic health conditions exercise. Both the conditions and forms of exercise vary widely – the goal is to find out what works best for you!
Visit the website to discover how exercise has helped other people with chronic conditions, and what the campaign can do for you : We Are Undefeatable
For more information on exercises specific to aspergillosis and chronic lung conditions:
“Aspergillus and me” is a song written by Alessandro Pasqualotto, a medical mycologist from Brazil, and two transplant patients, Jimi Joe (kidney), and King Jim (liver).
The initiative started when King was hospitalized due to a chronic cough. King is known for being asthmatic and he has some mild bronchiectasis, in addition to being a liver transplant recipient. A bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was recovered in culture, in addition to Aspergillus fumigatus (galactomannan testing was not performed). At that time, Alessandro Pasqualotto visited King in the hospital primarily as a fan, not as a physician. After collecting several autographs in vinyl albums from the 80’s (King was part of the famous rock band Garotos da Rua), Pasqualotto and King started a discussion on the relevance of A. fumigatus in his BAL exam. Despite being treated with voriconazole by order of the medical team in charge, Pasqualotto thought the musician was only colonized by the fungus. The dilemma surrounding the relevance of Aspergillus in this context motivated both Pasqualotto and King to write a song about that.
After being discharged from the hospital, King collected a group of experienced musicians to record Pasqualotto’s song. This included Jimi Joe, a kidney transplant recipient who together with King formed the band “Los Tresplantados”, a group of three transplant musicians that approaches the importance of organ donation, as well as opportunistic infections. Los Tresplantados, however, have never written a song about fungal infections, so this was a great opportunity to increase people’s awareness of such important diseases.
So this is what “Aspergillus and me” are all about. Alternatively, musicians also refer to this song as “When Black Sabbath meets Neil Young”. We hope you enjoy the song!