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Friday’s COPD Newsletter From COPD Support, Inc.

Posted Oct 01 2010 2:18pm

Volume 10, Issue 43
October 1, 2010
Richard D. Martin, Editor

Now that both the heat and humidity are less in many areas, it might not be long before some of us will start complaining about the lack of humidity in the air, particularly heated indoor air. Of course, those of us who have a central humidifier or live in a humid area might have to find something else to complain about. Although the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends indoor humidity be between 40 percent and 60 percent (in general), the Mayo Clinic recommends a humidity level between 40 percent and 50 percent. Nevertheless, the proper amount of humidity in your home is up to you and your doctor to decide, and if you are on oxygen, your air flow and possible use of an oxygen humidifier might be taken into consideration. For more information, see

According to the Mayo Clinic, humidity that is too low can irritate your nasal passages and throat, which are part of our respiratory system. To help keep the humidity level within an acceptable range, you might need two things, a hygrometer and a humidifier. A hygrometer measures the degree of humidity in the air. They are available for less than $10 at many sites on the Internet. There are many types and brands of room humidifiers available, so you have a wide selection from which to choose.

To decide what type of room humidifier is best for you, Good Housekeeping provides a brief review of the different types of room humidifiers (but they don’t cover the evaporative type) * Evaporative
* Cool mist
* Warm mist
* Ultrasonic
Please note that some cool mist and warm mist humidifiers also come with ultraviolet (UV) lights to kill germs.

Which one is for you?
For a quick review of the types and some models, this Good Housekeeping article will get you started

The Consumersearch website offers a more thorough description of each type and gives recommendations. View their site at

If you decide to buy over the Internet and have made your choice of room humidifier, you have the option of putting the name and model of your choice into your preferred search engine in the hopes of getting enough hits to be able to compare prices. Comparing prices on Ebay is also an option to help you establish the price range for your choice of humidifer.

Perhaps the most important thing about a humidifier, regardless of type, is proper cleaning and disinfecting. Without proper maintenance, you may be growing bacteria and/or mold in your humidifier and circulating them throughout your home. This Mayo Clinic article on colds provides information on how to keep your room humidifier clean and safe


News items summarized in The COPD-NEWS are taken from secondary sources believed to be reliable. However, the COPD Family of Services does not verify their accuracy.

Relying upon research originally published in “Chest,” the Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, the September, 2010 edition of the “Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants” (JAAPA) points out that inhaled corticosteroids reduced the number of exacerbations by about 18 percent, which, interestingly, they label “modest” or “slight.” The JAAPA article can be read at

According to this Associated Press report in Google News, the Obama administration announced that in spite of the additional benefits required by the new healthcare law, there will be, on average, a 1 percent decrease in the cost of Medicare Advantage plans in 2011. About 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. These plans are offered by private companies under contract with Medicare.

Endobronchial lung valves are valves that are inserted into airways in the lungs. They allow air out of particular sections of the lungs, but prevent it from entering. They are believed to reduce an individual’s overall lung volume and therefore improve lung function. According to the September 23, 2010 New England Journal of Medicine, a study of 321 people (220 received the valve), found * An average mean difference increase of 6.8 percent in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second, or the amount of air you can forcibly blow out in one second)
* Six minute walk test distance increase of 5.8 percent
* More frequent exacerbations
* More frequent pneumonia
* More frequent hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
After one year, 31 valves were removed for various reasons.
For an explanation and discussion of the study, please see

COMMERCIAL FREE: We do not accept any paid advertising. Any corporations, products, medicines (prescription or over the counter) mentioned in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not to be construed as an endorsement or condemnation of same.

There are local news reports popping up frequently across the United States, primarily in the Midwest, but also elsewhere, that declare this season one of the worst for allergies, specifically ragweed. Here is just one example that happens to be from Atlanta, Georgia

In addition to the usual problems with allergy-causing irritants, according to WebMD, the irritation can also lead to sinusitis. They say, “The lining thickens with fluid that obstructs the nasal passage. This passage connects to the sinuses. The obstruction disrupts the process that removes bacteria normally present in the nasal passages, and the bacteria begin to multiply and invade the lining of the sinuses. This causes sinus infection symptoms. Allergens and pollutants produce a similar effect.”

The following article in “Emedicinehealth” provides a good overview of sinusitis, including symptoms, when to seek medical help, over-the-counter meds, self-care at home, and antibiotic treatment. They also explain the various types of sinusitis. Because it is hard to differentiate sinusitis from other conditions, recognizing symptoms are important, and there might even be a few that surprise you (such as eye pain). To see if you’re surprised, visit

Medicare and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have agreed to jointly review medical products rather than Medicare waiting for the FDA to first approve a product before they review it. This is expected to reduce the delay of getting new medical products to Medicare recipients. For more information, please see

The California Department of Public Health has reported over 4,000 cases of whooping cough this year. Whooping cough is also called “pertussis.” According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), pertussis is a respiratory infection that is a “very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria attach to the cilia (tiny, hair-like extensions) that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause inflammation (swelling).” Although known more for affecting children, adults can also get whooping cough. From

Incidents of whooping cough in California are edging towards their highest level in close to 50 years, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Although age specific rates show that Hispanic children have the highest incidence, the overall highest rate not related to age, is among whites, approximately 1 in 10,000. Only you and your doctor can determine your degree of risk, based on your unique history, location, contacts, etc.

According to the CDC, adults who did not get Tdap (the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine as a pre-teen or teen should get one dose of Tdap. The CDC says that the easiest way for adults to do is simply to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster. Yes, the tetanus and diphtheria shot you are supposed to get every 10 years! The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, according to the CDC who suggests adults talk to their healthcare provider about what is best for their specific situation. They also warn us that fully vaccinated adults can still get whooping cough.

MEDICAL DECISIONS. Your physician should be consulted on all medical decisions. New procedures or drugs should not be started or stopped without such consultation. While we believe that our accumulated experience has value, and a unique perspective, you must accept it for what it is… the work of COPD patients . We vigorously encourage individuals with COPD to take an active part in the management of their disease. They do this through education and by sharing information and thoughts with their primary physician and pulmonologist. However, medical decisions are based on complex medical principles and should be left to the medical practitioner who has been trained to diagnose and advise.

When was the last time you had a physical exam – you know, where the doctor actually pokes and prods around, asking you if this hurts or that hurts? This “National Public Radio” article looks at the fading art of the physical exam, the accompanying loss of examination skills, and the efforts by some to reverse this trend. According Jason Wasfy, cardiologist-in-training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, “We’re now often doing expensive tests, where in the past a physical exam would have given you the same information.” Read the complete article at

This “International Journal of COPD” from Canada looks at the special needs, challenges, and the emotional impact COPD has upon family members who provide care for someone with COPD. Called “informal caregivers” in this study, 14 caregivers share insights and valuable information about their experiences and how they meet the challenges of caring for someone with COPD. This very unique study provides both valuable information and insight for caregivers as well as COPDers alike.

We’ve just passed the six month anniversary of the enactment of the new healthcare law. Some changes have already been enacted, and others are on their way including, according to Medicare * More affordable prescription plans: A rebate of $250 this year once you fall into the donut hole; 50% off Part D covered brand named drugs next year during the donut hole; and plans to close the donut hole entirely 2020
* Preventative services: Next year Medicare will cover preventative services such as cancer screenings and mammograms
* Decrease payments to Advantage providers: Medicare will decrease payments to Medicare Advantage Plans. Currently, Advantage plans receive about $1,000 more per person than regular Medicare. In 2011 Medicare will eliminate this extra spending
* Measures to ensure Advantage plan providers spend at least 85% of revenue on patients
* Increase the number of medical providers and community health centers: Medicare will implement initiatives to increase the number of doctors and other health professionals accepting Medicare
* Improved home healthcare options
For the Medicare summary of changes (in pdf), see

The Stanford University’s Chronic Disease Self Management Program is offering a free online program called, “Better Choices, Better Health.” It is for people with chronic conditions such as COPD, thanks to a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies. The workshops can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection, even dial-up. The program is licensed by the National Council on Aging, but is open to individuals of all ages. Workshops are led by people with chronic conditions themselves. Currently, only residents of California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon are able to participate, however it is hoped that the program will expand in the future. Participants discuss *Dealing with anxiety and stress
*Managing pain and other symptoms
*Planning for the future
*Locating and using community resources
*Building communication skills
*Asking for help

For more information, please visit
Or register at

Subscription to this Newsletter is free and we hope that it serves your needs. For more Newsletter information, go to:

The Newsletter, like all the other endeavors of the Family of COPD Support Programs , is provided to you by COPD-Support, Inc. a non-profit member organization with IRS designation 501(c)(3). If you would like to be involved and help us provide these programs to the individuals who benefit from them, please consider joining us as a member. Further information is available at:

There are many particulars with which to concern yourself when you travel, and there is a long list of things that can (and do) go wrong, especially if you have a chronic illness such as COPD. You therefore might want to consider purchasing travel insurance. If you need a primer on travel insurance, this will get you started

Home warranty insurance is becoming more popular. It covers things that your home owner’s insurance usually doesn’t cover, such as mechanical breakdowns to such things as furnaces, appliances and plumbing. But are they a good deal? This MSN-Money article tries to answer that question

You and your computer can wander through this museum featuring the work of close to 3,000 artists in your pajamas. (How all those artists got into your pajamas, we’ll never know!) The paintings and sculpture are all European and from the mid 11th to mid 19th centuries. Avoid being overwhelmed by opting for a “tour” at the top of the page. You can even yawn and offer your critiques out loud without annoying other museum visitors. If you are in short supply of urbane comments, please see “One-liners,” below. Don’t forget to simply click on a painting to enlarge it.

Need some one-liners? You’ll find tons of one-liners and proverbs here, from the profound to the ridiculous. You might want to use some of them as you explore the virtual museum above.

You’ll find a large number of word games at this site by Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people. You’ll be subjected to ads, but look around (sometime in the upper right direction) to find how you can sometimes – yes only sometimes – “skip the advertisement.”

For comments and questions, or to contact Richard D. Martin, please send your email to:

Until next Friday,
Richard D. Martin, Editor

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