Archive for Health

NeilMed Sinus Rinse

Spring is finally here, kind of, and so the trees are gracing us with their pollen.  For me this can mean horrendous sinus congestion, swollen eyes and a scratchy throat.  Rinsing out my sinuses does wonders for all of these symptoms and I prefer to use the NeilMed sinus rinse bottles.  Friends of mine have used the neti pots which look like miniature tea pots and basically do the same thing.  I like the ability to control the water pressure with the bottle.

For several years now I’ve always purchased my supplies at various pharmacies and drug stores.  I used to be able to buy either one squeeze bottle with 50 pre-mixed saline packets or purchase a box of 100 pre-mixed packets.  Lately all I seem able to find are boxes with one bottle full of saline with a few mixed packets included.  This would be great if I were on a business trip or vacation, but it’s not what I want to buy when at home and the added cost seems ridiculous.  I try to support local business as much as possible, but I finally turned to Amazon.  I recently discovered I could get two bottles and 250 pre-mixed packets for the low price of $24.

To purchase the bottles and pre-mixed packets separately I’d probably end up spending around $40.  I’m always up for finding a deal and saving money when it comes to medicine and medical supplies.  One other problem I’ve always had is finding a good place to clean and store the bottles in between use.  I noticed the Neilmed Nasadock Plus Stand for about $6 and added that to my order.

This provides a great solution to the problem of cleaning and storing the bottle.  In the past I’ve left it next to the bathroom or kitchen sink on a towel or paper towel.  The bottle has never dried well lying on its side or right side up.  I’m often a fan of buying online because I tend to think of things I need when stores aren’t open.  I’m quite pleased with my purchases and will most likely try Amazon first next time I need more supplies.

Cinnamon Challenge

So I’ve been hearing about this thing for a while where people challenge each other to digest a teaspoon of raw cinnamon without any beverage.  It sounds like quite a “manly” thing to do with the exception that this can actually damage your lungs and airways.  This isn’t as simple as eating a jar of jalapeños, lighting farts or drinking a gallon of milk.  Most takers on this challenge might cough, cry and spew out cinnamon dust – but those of us with pre-existing lung conditions could really screw ourselves over.

Cinnamon is derived from the bark of trees from the genus cinnamomum.  This bark, or cinnamon sticks, is then ground up into what most of us know as that spice added to many desserts and drinks.  Because it derives from tree bark, cinnamon is largely composed of cellulose fibers which do not break down within the lungs once inhaled.  The oils contained within the spice can cause allergic or toxic reactions.  The reactions plus the lingering materials can cause tissue scarring and long term damage.

collapsed_lung

Collapsed Lung

This is nothing to laugh at unless you’d like to end up in a hospital for a week.  I know I’m totally sounding like a parent here, which I am, but please find something else stupid to impress your friends.  It’s not worth it for those of us with existing respiratory illnesses to further mess up what lung function we still have left.  If you’ve ever been in the hospital for respiratory problems before and experienced an arterial blood gas test in your wrist, you might want to put the cinnamon back on the spice rack.

Arterial Blood Gas Test

Arterial Blood Gas Test

GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance create new lung drugs

I just found an article talking about the FDA’s review of a new drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Theravance.  It’s called Breo and is targeted towards COPD patients.  If you’ve always heard “COPD” but don’t know what it is, the acronym stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both.  It’s a scary thing.  Now if you don’t have COPD, but do suffer from asthma or related lung condition, this drug could still be for you.

Breo is a combination drug containing both fluticasone furoate (corticosteroid) and vilanterol (long-acting beta-agonist).  Other drugs similar to this on the market include:

  • Advair (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol)
  • Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate)
  • Dulera (mometasone furoate and formoterol fumarate dihydrate).

Lots of big words in there, but these are all comprised of a steroid and a long-acting bronchodilator or beta-agonist.  I tend to always be prescribed the latest and greatest, so I’m wondering if I’ll be switching to this some time in the future.  One change Breo brings to the game is one dose a day.  Many patients using combo drug inhalers are needing to take them both morning and night.

Also mentioned in the article is Anoro which could be competing with Spiriva.  Anoro contains both vilanterol and umeclidinium.  Vilanterol, a LABA, is one-half of Breo and umedlidinium is a long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist.  Supposedly this is the first LABA-LAMA combination drug.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/15/us-glaxosmithkline-breo-idUSBRE93E0J120130415

Pari Trek S Portable Aerosol System

In 2010 I was finally fed up with trying to lug my giant nebulizer compressor from home to work and anywhere else I needed it.  After a lot of research and internet searching, I came across the Trek S offered by Pari Respiratory Equipment.

 

 

 

Some of the first things that stuck out to me:

  • I could power this with a standard electrical outlet (AC), car adapter (DC) or a battery pack (DC)
  • Weighs 0.8lbs by itself or 1.2lbs with the battery
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Comes with two Pari LC Sprint Reusable nebulizers and two sets of tubing
  • Produces decent air flow (14.5psi standard and 35psi max)
  • Has great reviews on Amazon

I ended up purchasing it for an upcoming trip and LOVED it.  Since then I’ve pretty much carried it with me everywhere I go.  The small size and compact carrying case allows me to carry it or drop it into any backpack, messenger back, etc that I’m also traveling with at the moment.  The compressor comes with a three year warranty and the battery pack has a six month warranty.  I’m going on three years of use and haven’t had any hiccups with either the battery or the compressor.

This unit ships with two Pari LC Sprint nebuilzers that are good for six months.  Pari also provides a sticker indicator that will let you know when six months is up.  To make it easy on myself I replace mine in January and July every year.  I have two in use at a time so I always have one at home and one wherever else I happen to be.

If you or a family member has serious asthma like myself and you’re getting tired (pun intended) of dragging that giant compressor around I highly recommend getting something more portable.  General complaints I’ve heard and read about other hand-held models are noise levels and lack of air pressure creating a longer wait to complete a treatment.  I’ve had neither issues with the Trek S.  I’ve used this many times on airplanes where variations in the cabin pressure make it difficult for me to breathe, in cars, outdoors, indoors and anywhere else I happen to find myself.

Amazon used to have several vendors selling this, but they happen to only have one for sale at the moment.  If you’re interested in getting the deluxe package with the car adapter and the battery pack, I’d suggest trying JustNebulizers.com.  This is where I purchase all of my Pari LC Sprint nebulizers, filters, tubing, etc.  There was one time I had a slight glitch in my order and they fixed it for me immediately.  They also email coupons and sales periodically so you can get a good deal on whatever you’re buying.

The Ides of March

When I was in high school there was an English teacher who was really into Julius Ceasar by Shakespeare.  She did this whole “beware the ides of March” thing trying to prank other teachers.  I think it was my senior year that a biology teacher left a dissection tray with eyeballs on it and a note saying, “BEWARE THE EYES OF MARCH.”

ides of march

I kind of forgot about the whole mid-March thing until a few years ago when I started getting sick every March.  This is the also the time of year allergy seasons start because winter is usually slipping away and trees are starting to pollinate.  The first time I wasn’t feeling so great and coughing a fair amount.  Out of no where I coughed up some blood.  My wife has this rule that if I cough up blood I HAVE to go to the hospital.  I ended up missing a work trip and staying home a few days recovering.

Last year I came home early from a workout at the gym because I was having some weird chest pains when exerting myself.  Not too long after I started coughing profusely and was coughing up mouthfuls of blood for the next 30 minutes or so.  Another trip to the hospital and another few days spend at home trying to recover.

This year I “almost” came down with bronchitis.  I spent the better part of a week hanging out at home watching my oxygen saturation levels dip below 90% and trying to decide how I’d get to the hospital if I needed to.  Maybe there is something to this whole Ides of March thing because this always happens to me between the 14th and 16th of March.  That old soothsayer wasn’t so crazy after all and if nothing else, I can say I have something in common with Doc Holiday.

doc_holliday-huckleberry

CMS50L Pulse Oximeter – Review

Back in May I decided I wanted a pulse oximeter handy just to check my oxygen saturation. Often times I would feel absolutely awful and this is one way I could track symptoms. This was before I had been diagnosed with severe obstructive apnea, and was something that could help me tell my doctors my oxygen levels drop when lying down a certain way.

So where to start….I decided to go to Amazon and look to see what they had. If you’ve ever had your oxygen tested in the hospital or at a doctor’s office, there’s a good chance a handheld device was used. These cost about $400-$500 and aren’t something most people buy to use at home. You can get the smaller devices that just clip onto your fingertip for much less. They start around $20 and range up to $200 or more.

I looked around, found one between $20-$30 and saw that it had decent reviews on Amazon. By decent I mean it had a 4 out of 5 stars. Usually this isn’t too bad. I read some of the bad/poor reviews and saw some were pissed off with the device. I’m used to purchasing computer parts and other electronics and you always see these reviews. I didn’t think much of it and purchased the CMS50L Pulse Oximeter. Even though it wasn’t the best thing out there, I thought for $20 I couldn’t go wrong.

The device arrived in the mail and seemed to work great.  It takes two AAA batteries, and would be easy to replace.  Whenever Liz tried the device out, it showed her at 98 or 99%.  When I tried it out I would be anywhere from 90 to 97%.  This made complete sense because of how I was doing at the time.  I did notice it always started out at 97%, and often eventually got there, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Fast forward a month or so and that is when the oximeter fell off my nightstand onto the ground.  Shouldn’t be a big deal since there was carpet and the fall was all of 36″, but that’s when the thing started acting weird all the time.  It started “freaking out,” not taking readings, would reset randomly, and occasionally gave really odd readings. I often had to hold the device shut on my finger just for it to work.  The device always start at 97% and if I wore it long enough, would often get back up to 97%.  As time has passed, the pulse oximeter has become more and more sketchy and I figured it was time to get something different.  I went back to Amazon and took a closer look at those reviews.

For starters the company who fulfilled my order was Clinical Guard.  They had a customer satisfaction rate between 95% which I thought this was pretty good at the time.  It’s currently down at 91% which actually isn’t very good at all.  This made me start wondering why people aren’t happy with their purchases.

I then looked back at some of the user reviews for the device, especially the bad ones.  I started noticing all my complaints were listed in those bad reviews.  It seemed as if  some of those good reviews were written too soon or maybe the users never compared the readings to a calibrated device with a medical professional.  Another common thread was all problems starting about a month after use.  Since my oxygen levels have been documented by medical professionals in the 70s, I’d like to have a device that gives me accurate results.  Sometimes this is how I determine whether to go to the hospital or stay home.

Apparently the Nonin models are the cadillacs of oximeters.  The low end model is around $100 and the mid-range recommended model is about $200.  I’d really like to avoid spending $100 right now, so I found another one made by Concord for $40.  Even though this is another relatively cheap product, there are some big differences between it and what I currently have.  The reviews are almost all positive and it is sold by it’s manufacturer Concord Health Supply.  I check their customer satisfaction rating and they’re at 100%.  The only negative reviews of the item are by medical professionals saying it’s not as perfect as their high-end, expensive devices at work.  I can live with that.  So I ordered one last night.  I have high hopes it’ll work out better and will let you know how it compares.

Candy for big kids

Remember way back in the day when you’d go to the doctor and get a sticker, sucker or what have you?  Well about about us big kids?  What do we get?  Tonight I found out what it takes to earn a Taco Bell Beefy Melt Burrito $5 Box.

  • 10 or so puffs on a rescue inhaler
  • 7 nebulizer treatments
  • 1 Z-pack
  • 85mg prednisone
  • a couple muscle relaxers
  • anti-anxiety medicine
  • codeine cough syrup
  • a 4hr coughing fit
  • continually turning purple
  • and my 3rd trip to the ER this year

Is it worth it?