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Strategy for COPD during the Pandemic

Since the pandemic began, patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been incessantly trying to find ways to protect against the coronavirus. And, although scientists are still trying to understand everything connected to Covid-19, one thing we know for sure – we can minimize the risk by managing our exposure to the lethal virus.

This is especially important for COPD patients because they are at higher risk from the coronavirus and they all know quite well that isolation is the ultimate rule to minimize the risk of infections and protect from Covid-19. But, what else can they do? Read on and find out how COPD patients can defend themselves against the coronavirus.

Healthy Diet

Nutrition is important for everyone’s health. During the pandemic, it is even more crucial that vulnerable people pay more attention to their eating habits and avoid eating unhealthy food. Namely, processed foods are full of sugars like glucose. And, when glucose levels go up in COPD patients it usually means more severe COPD exacerbations and long hospital stays since high glucose levels may result in inflammation which narrows the airways.

Hence, if you suffer from COPD, ensure you avoid unhealthy food and instead focus on getting more whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients that can help you boost your immune system.

Medications

Taking your medications as prescribed by a doctor is more important than ever. Sometimes, by not following your doctor’s recommendations you can aggravate your condition. So, now it’s the perfect time to check whether you are using your inhaler properly to ensure your lungs are receiving the dose needed.

Furthermore, if your doctor prescribed you medications for suppressing airway inflammation, which are usually taken by COPD patients, make sure you are taking them since one of the major issues of contracting Covid-19 is inflammation of the airways.

Exercise

Finally, ensure that exercise is included in your strategy for protecting from the coronavirus. But, since self-isolation is key to minimizing the risk of getting contracted it means that you aren’t able to attend your pulmonary rehabilitation classes. Thus, it’s time to look around and find how you can start your own exercise routine. Keeping your health in optimal condition is crucial during the pandemic to defend yourself from potential infection.

Luckily, even 10-15 minutes of daily exercise can improve your fitness level and have a positive effect on your health and COPD. And, what’s even more convenient, you don’t have to leave your home in order to exercise effectively.

Here are some exercises that you can perform at your home:

  • Good Posture – The way you hold and carry your body is very important for managing COPD symptoms. Fixing a bad posture cannot happen overnight but in self-isolation, you certainly have the time to do it. You can achieve this by doing chin tucks every morning and standing with your back against the wall.
  • Breathing Exercises – Breathing correctly is crucial for COPD patients. Hence, you should practice deep, also known as diaphragmatic, breathing. Effective exercises you can try to improve your breathing include pursed lips breathing, coordinated breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Stationary Bikes – This is a great option for at-home endurance training and extremely effective for COPD patients because lung function is key in determining overall endurance.

Guide: Create Your Ideal Sleep Environment

In general, people take their bedroom for granted and underestimate the importance of keeping an optimal sleep environment for having a good night’s sleep. The truth is, a vast majority of sleep issues are caused directly by the sleep environment, whether it is temperature, light, or noise. Hence, here’s a detailed guide on creating the ideal sleeping space for getting good quality sleep.

Ideal Sleep Environment and Temperature

It goes without saying that the ideal temperature differs from person to person and depends on people’s preference and tolerance for humidity and heat, as well as their health conditions like hormone imbalances, body weight, and other sleep conditions including sleep apnea. So, several factors should be taken into consideration when deciding on a person’s optimal bedroom temperature.

Surprisingly but true, scientists have proven that the ideal sleep environment temperature may vary from 17 to 28 degrees Celsius, i.e. 62-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, they also emphasize that humidity can play a huge role when deciding on the bedroom temperature and say that it should be somewhere between 40 and 60%. Another key factor affecting ideal temperature is ‘bedding microclimate’ which refers to your sleeping clothes, mattress, pillows, sheets, and covers.

Ideal Sleep Environment and Noise

The truth is, your bedroom should probably need to be quieter than you think. Again, it differs from person to person, and of course the noise itself because different noises create different responses. For example, someone may sleep through a baby crying in the room but jolt awake by a thunderstorm.

However, according to scientists, the threshold level for sleep environment noise is 35 dB. But, how does 35 dB sound like? It is somewhere between a bird call (40 dB) and a whisper (20 dB). Furthermore, noise should be about 50 dB or less to wake us up when we are in sleep stages 1 and 2 which are lighter stages. Logically, the sound should be louder in order to wake us up when we are in deeper sleep stages.

So, from snoring, TV, to environmental noises – anything may disrupt our sleep. Therefore, it’s better to address this issue to ensure getting enough good quality sleep. For instance, you can try white noise machines to mask unwanted noise and thus reduce awakenings and improve sleep quantity.

Ideal Sleep Environment and Air Quality

Optimizing air quality for sleeping should be another point of consideration when trying to create your ideal sleep environment. According to studies, the optimal air quality is at sea level with proper ventilation. Unfortunately, we do not all live by the sea so we have to try to get the optimal air quality for sleep.

One way to improve the quality of the air in your bedroom is by leaving your windows open to increase oxygen levels when the outdoor temperature allows. Another thing you could do to promote bedroom ventilation when leaving your windows open isn’t an option is to open them before going to bed to let air in and open all of the doors inside your house to let air circulate, including your bedroom door. Here’s yet another natural, easy, and low-cost oxygen booster – keeping plants throughout your house since they take carbon dioxide from the air and filter other unwanted chemicals.

As a bonus tip, limit pre-bedtime light exposure, especially to blue light from digital devices, because it can negatively affect your ability to fall and stay asleep, get optimal sleep amount in each of the sleep stages, and stick to a strict sleep schedule.

The Link Between Hypersomnia and Sleep Apnea

A serious sleep condition characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day is called hypersomnia, also known as EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness), even after long stretches of sleep. People with hypersomnia find getting up extremely difficult and they never feel refreshed after sleep.

Fortunately, hypersomnia, or EDS, isn’t that common and only affects 4 to 6 percent of the world population, especially men. Another ‘positive’ thing about this sleep condition is that it can be diagnosed and treated. If left untreated, it can cause negative effects both on physical and mental health.

Furthermore, it is important to know that even though some hypersomnia and sleep apnea symptoms may overlap, they are two separate conditions. For that reason, to help you distinguish between sleep apnea and hypersomnia here’s everything you need to know about the link between these two.

What are the Hypersomnia Symptoms?

As we already mentioned, people with undiagnosed and untreated hypersomnia may have poor physical and mental health. In general, adults should have a minimum of 7 to 8 hours a good night’s sleep to feel energized and refreshed. But, people with hypersomnia never get that feeling even after double the hours of sleep.

This usually leads to having trouble thinking clearly, making decisions, and they are constantly lethargic. Another symptom of hypersomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness meaning that these people find it very challenging to stay awake nearly everywhere. Finally, hypersomnia patients also experience social issues, i.e. difficulties in connecting with family and friends.

What Causes Hypersomnia?

In medical terms, there are two different types of hypersomnia. The first is primary hypersomnia which means that the cause is unknown due to a lack of other present medical conditions. The other type is secondary hypersomnia, also referred to as idiopathic hypersomnia, which is caused by a range of other medical conditions.

However, similar to primary hypersomnia, in idiopathic hypersomnia, there also isn’t a clearly defined cause but only a mix of conditions or scenarios that differ from one person to another which may include:

  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Medication
  • Medication withdrawal
  • Neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation

The Link between Hypersomnia and Sleep Apnea

Namely, many people who have sleep apnea may end up developing hypersomnia. This is the reason why it is believed that sleep apnea is one of the direct causes of hypersomnia. To identify the cause the patient’s physician should ask several questions and based on the answers the further treatment may be determined which may be as simple as a lifestyle change or asking for a sleep test to be performed.

How is Hypersomnia Treated?

In general, based on the possible hypersomnia cause, the physician will determine how will hypersomnia be treated which can be either naturally or medicinally.

Natural Treatment

As we mentioned above, even some lifestyle changes may contribute to alleviating hypersomnia symptoms without the need for pharmacological intervention. Some of these recommendations and changes may include following healthy sleep hygiene or a healthy diet. In general, the physician will advise the patient to follow a strict sleep schedule and try to sleep more hours. Another option is CPAP therapy for those who already have sleep apnea.

Medical Treatment

If none of the above lifestyle changes help the patient, medications may be prescribed to further treat hypersomnia. Amphetamine or other stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating this condition. Also, the following may be included: antidepressants, clonidine, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

To conclude, hypersomnia is a serious condition affecting a patient’s quality of life. Luckily, there are numerous possible treatments. Hence, if you have any of the symptoms, don’t hesitate and seek professional help.

Menopause or Perimenopause and Sleep

If you are going through menopause, you are very likely to have experienced broken sleep cycles, night sweats, or excessive sleep. To alleviate these symptoms you have probably tried taking hormone replacement therapy which is the most common treatment doctors prescribe. However, it may not be the most efficient for improving sleep quality and quantity.

Namely, according to new research, the cause of these problems is mental health. Luckily, you can successfully address this issue by trying some natural remedies that will help reduce menopause symptoms and improve sleep.

The Link between Menopause, Poor Sleep, and Mental Health

We all know that menopause affects sleep even though the connection between mental health and sleep during menopause may not seem so obvious. The truth is, although women try to treat menopause symptoms with medications, they end up having more and more troubles falling and staying asleep. These women also wake up frequently at night and suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders which may lead to depression. And, research shows that women going through menopause are at higher risk of suffering from depression.

Natural Menopause Treatment Alternatives

According to new research, treating menopause symptoms could be as simple as introducing a couple of lifestyle changes, which can give as effective results, and sometimes better, as hormone replacement therapy.

So, here’s a list of the changes you could introduce to your life to help reduce menopause symptoms and improve sleep and mental health:

Have a Healthy Morning Routine

Starting your day right is the first change you should make to address both your mental and physical menopause- and sleep-related issues. Your healthy morning routine should consist of at least 15 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight and light exercise to help you improve energy.

Adopt a Positive Mindset

Once you have established your healthy morning routine, you should try to adopt a positive mindset since challenging negative menopause thoughts and stereotypes is essential for fighting against mental and sleep issues. One of the best ways to achieve this is by having a healthy bedtime routine.

Once we are ready for bed, we usually lie down and start thinking about all the problems and negative aspects we’d like to change. But, by trying some healthy distractions such as listening to music, talking with your family or friends, doing breathing exercises, or yoga, you can adopt a positive mindset and keep your focus away from worries.

Try Healthy Coping Methods

Coping with both the physical and emotional changes introduced by menopause can be challenging sometimes. But, by replacing your old coping methods with healthier ones, you can improve your mental health and reduce sleep issues.

Having said that, think about trying mind-body therapies like yoga, acupuncture, massage, and tai chi which are all great ways to honor both aspects of your health, physical and mental. Similarly, try relaxing with a cup of herbal tea or chatting with your loved ones instead of drinking alcohol or smoking hoping to calm your nerves.

Try Natural Supplements

Last but not least, natural supplements can certainly help you relieve menopause symptoms and do wonders for your mental, emotional, and physical health in general. Plus, natural supplements are especially effective when it comes to boosting mood and alleviating depression symptoms.

Yet, make sure you talk to your primary care physician before taking any supplements, whether vitamins or minerals.

Hearing Loss and Sleep Disorders

As people age, they tend to experience hearing issues and hearing loss which is commonly considered as a result of age. But, did you know that hearing loss could also be a result of a sleep disorder?

It may sound surprising but, sleep has a huge impact on our health in general, including hearing ability. In fact, there’s a strong link between insomnia and hearing problems. To learn how they are both connected and how to manage them successfully, just continue reading this article.

Hearing Loss Causes

As we’ve already mentioned, natural aging isn’t the only cause of hearing loss even though it accounts for the majority of this issue. According to statistics, 2% of adults aged 45 to 54, about one-quarter of adults aged 55 to 64, and half of the elderly over 76 have disabling hearing loss.

Other common hearing loss causes include:

Inner Ear Damage

Anything from working in a loud environment, listening to loud music (especially with earbuds), trauma, to birth defects can cause damage to the inner ear and lead to hearing loss issues as we age.

Ear Infections

Ear infections may be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fluid buildup both in children and adults. Another common cause of ear infections is dirty pool water which is known as the swimmer’s ear. Luckily, both ear infections and hearing loss caused by infections can be easily treated.

Ear Wax Buildup

Although ear wax protects our ears and bodies from infection, if it accumulates too much, it can block the eardrum and thus impede your hearing ability. But, similarly to ear infection, it is easily treatable so it is not such a big deal.

Lack of Sleep

Unfortunately, the connection between hearing loss and sleep deprivation has come to light quite recently. New research has now proven that lack of sleep can influence the hearing ability and accelerate hearing loss.

How Can Sleep Affect Hearing Loss?

Sleep Deprivation and Mental Fatigue

The link between lack of sleep and reduced cognitive function is strong. This is quite logical since sleep is the way our bodies restore themselves and enable proper function. In case of sleep deprivation, your body cannot perform at its fullest and you tend to make more mistakes and have poor judgment.

And, hearing requires mental power since to understand speech your brain must go through and filter background sounds and then process the information heard. Hence, we can conclude that when mental fatigue occurs you are likely to experience hearing issues or worsen an existing hearing loss condition.

Sleep Deprivation and Circulation

To function properly, our circulatory system also requires good sleep quality and quantity. According to a study conducted a year ago, chronic sleep disorders or insomnia may cause hypocretin reduction, which is a very important hormone for sleep cycle regulation.

Another key finding was that sleep-deprived mice have developed plaques in the arteries. And, as we all know, plaque leads to poor circulation which is also linked to hearing loss. The reason for this is that the cochlea, a part of the inner ear crucial for hearing and processing sounds, needs proper circulation in order to function.

The bottom line, the link between sleep and hearing loss is real. Fortunately, by becoming aware of this connection and importance you can try to get enough sleep and thus protect against a hearing loss condition.