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Find inspirational stories, tips from the COPD Coach, events, and current news on the COPD community blog. Have a question regarding COPD that you would like to share with our community? Contact our COPD Coach. Coaches Corner is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice. If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at coachescorner@copdfoundation.org. We would love to hear your questions and comments.

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Archive: August 2016

Too Embarrassed to Ask?

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Dear COPD Coach,
I have a rather embarrassing question to ask you. I was diagnosed with moderate COPD just a few years ago. While I am still able to get around fairly well and am just on oxygen at night, I have noticed that lately when I get out of breath during activity I get this huge urge to either urinate or have a bowel movement. Sometimes this urge is over-powering and I am embarrassed to say that it has on a couple occasions resulted in having an “accident.”

My first question is why this happens, and secondly, what can I do about it?

-Need To Go

Dear Need To Go,
This problem is fairly common with those with respiratory problems and often one we do not discuss outside our COPD circle of friends. What is actually occurring is that when you get out of breath, your brain goes into (for lack of a better term) survival mode. In this mode, the brain triggers blood to the most essential organs that must keep working for us to remain alive. Unfortunately, this does not include the bladder or sphincter muscles. The result is the sudden need to either urinate or have a bowel movement. Often times after experiencing this urge, when you are finally able to eliminate, you might be somewhat surprised how little is actually eliminated.

Panic with COPD With that said, there are some things you can do. Personally, my COPD philosophy is that I have never met a restroom I didn’t like, and rarely pass up an opportunity to visit when I am out and about. In fact I have gotten in the habit and become somewhat an expert in scouting out locations of convenient restroom facilities. While use of the facilities whenever possible does not reduce the urge to eliminate, it does significantly reduce the chances of a major accident!

Since I travel in excess of 100,000 miles a year this has become a major concern - especially in airports. Just before boarding, and often times before deplaning, I make it a point to use the restroom whether I feel the urge or not. Since regaining my usual oxygen saturations after a flight takes a little time (even though I use oxygen), I find that making my way up the jet way incline often causes me to get out of breath, so it just makes sense to anticipate what is most probably inevitable. I have spoken with others in similar circumstances who tell me when they anticipate excursions that might cause them to get short of breath they actually use adult incontinence products. There are new products becoming available all the time, most with very little bulk, so you can be reasonably assured that nobody will know but you.

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Categories: Coaches Corner

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

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Allergies, illness, and long-term health can be impacted by the quality of the air inside our homes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside our home can be two to ten times worse than outside air. This is not surprising since for the last forty years consumers have been working to improve energy efficiency in their homes. The rapid rise in the occurrence of allergies and other breathing disorders caused by the increased level of contaminants in indoor air means the problem is real and only getting worse. It can often be difficult for our immune systems to keep up with the abundance of particles, germs and gases that are locked inside our tight, energy-efficient homes.

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in a home. These can include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, or wood, tobacco products, building materials and furnishings, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products, products for household cleaning and personal care, and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

 Airborne contaminants, size in Microns So imagine breathing those in. Our bodies act like filters. We will generally catch the larger contaminants, yet the smallest of these – and the ones that are potentially the most injurious to our health, pass into our lungs and often into our bloodstreams.

Particles: Have you ever seen the sun’s rays streaming through a window and you can see all of the dust floating around in the sunbeam? There are millions of microscopic particles that float around in the air all the time. And those in the sunbeam are only the ones that are actually big enough to see. Ninety eight percent of all airborne particles measure below 1 micron (1/25,000 inch) in size and are invisible to the naked eye.

Studies show that breathing particles that measure below three microns in size can be detrimental to our health and 98% of all particles we breathe are less than one micron in size. That's some small stuff that disposable filters are not capable of removing from the air.

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Tags: air quality solutions HVAC indoor air quality
Categories: Tips for Healthy Living

Pneumococcal Disease: What You Should Know

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Adults with COPD disease at greater risk for contracting the potentially deadly disease.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month! Are you current on your shots? Despite recent headlines about the benefits of vaccinations at fighting disease, many adults still aren’t up to date.

National Immunizations Month Pneumococcal Disease For adults living with a chronic disease like COPD, the risks of being under-vaccinated are even greater. As many as one-third of adults living with a chronic illness are at greater risk of contracting the potentially deadly pneumococcal disease. Worse, if a person living with COPD contracts pneumococcal disease, the long term potential for worsening of their disease is elevated.

So what is pneumococcal disease? Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium, also known as pneumococcus. Infection can result in pneumonia, infection of the blood, middle-ear infection, or bacterial meningitis. The bacterium spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. People may become infected if someone with the disease coughs or sneezes in close proximity.

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Tags: CDC National Immunization Awareness Month pneumococcal vaccine
Categories: Tips for Healthy Living

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