Asthma Sufferers Have More Control Using Smart Inhalers

Chances are, you or someone you know has asthma. You may have even seen firsthand someone gasping for air while suffering an asthma attack.

“The number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001,” The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology stated, citing the World Health Organization.

But now smart inhalers are pinpointing areas where asthma may be more prevalent.

An initial study involving 300 participants equipped with these smart inhalers demonstrated that the inhalers helped the participants to have greater control over their asthma, according to an article in The Courier-Journal.

Local air quality was also being examined through their use.

The article reports on the second phase of the study with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil is now recruiting employees of local companies, as well as individuals, to use Propeller Health emergency inhalers. These inhalers are equiped to track location and how frequently they are used.

Ted Smith, executive director of the institute, said this about the initial phase. "Propeller Health took a look at all the attacks they recorded, and all the places and compared that with pollution, temperature, humidity, time of year, time of day, land characteristics, proximity to busy roads, and pollution sources."

Some of the results included asthma attacks happening in areas that Smith described as “highly clustered,” as well as in some hot spots along some freeways and in close proximity to industrial plants. Attacks, it was noted, were not happening where the participants lived.

Data such as this can help pinpoint high risks areas where localized pollution could be targeted for reduction.

According to an article in Scientific American, a device and data-monitoring system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration two years ago. This type of device-driven data gathering is called Asthmapolis.

Chances are, you or someone you know has asthma. You may have even seen firsthand someone gasping for air while suffering an asthma attack.

“The number of people with asthma continues to grow. One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009, compared with 1 in 14 (about 20 million, or 7%) in 2001,” The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology stated, citing the World Health Organization.

But now smart inhalers are pinpointing areas where asthma may be more prevalent.

An initial study involving 300 participants equipped with these smart inhalers demonstrated that the inhalers helped the participants to have greater control over their asthma, according to an article in The Courier-Journal.

Local air quality was also being examined through their use.

The article reports on the second phase of the study with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Institute for Healthy Air, Water and Soil is now recruiting employees of local companies, as well as individuals, to use Propeller Health emergency inhalers. These inhalers are equiped to track location and how frequently they are used.

Ted Smith, executive director of the institute, said this about the initial phase. "Propeller Health took a look at all the attacks they recorded, and all the places and compared that with pollution, temperature, humidity, time of year, time of day, land characteristics, proximity to busy roads, and pollution sources."

Some of the results included asthma attacks happening in areas that Smith described as “highly clustered,” as well as in some hot spots along some freeways and in close proximity to industrial plants. Attacks, it was noted, were not happening where the participants lived.

Data such as this can help pinpoint high risks areas where localized pollution could be targeted for reduction.

According to an article in Scientific American, a device and data-monitoring system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration two years ago. This type of device-driven data gathering is called Asthmapolis.

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Asthma: You can Manage It Better than Anyone Else Can

Gary R. Epler, M.D.

You can manage your asthma better than anyone else. Millions of people have asthma. New medications and treatments have been developed that can have a huge positive impact in people’s lives. And, if you can learn about them and how to use them, you too can effectively manage your asthma.

How to manage your asthma?

Start with learning everything you can about asthma. Explore the internet top searches. Trust yourself, you will be able to read sources that will help you. Learn how the disease is diagnosed – what tests and x-rays are helpful. Learn treatment options. For asthma, it’s important to monitor the progress – is it improving, staying the same, worsening. Finally, create a healing environment. This is where the mind is powerful.

What’s asthma?

Asthma is inflammation of the airways and bronchospasm. The inflammation occurs in the bronchial airways, which are the slender tubes that branch out from your trachea, or windpipe. Bronchospasm is the periodic contraction of the smooth, circular muscles around the bronchial airways. This can quickly narrow your airways. The airway inflammation plugs up the bronchial airways with congestion, and the bronchospasm further decreases the amount of air you can draw into the lungs. These two features account for the typical symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Asthma is a chronic condition with intermittent symptoms.

What type of asthma do you have?

Part of managing asthma involves knowing what type of asthma you have. Childhood asthma usually develops between ages five and seven, and about 80% have allergies. Adult-onset asthma may develop at any age. Up to one-third of people with asthma have their first attack after age 30. In addition to allergy asthma, other types of asthma have specific triggers. For some people, exercise is the only thing that triggers asthma. Aspirin can cause an asthma attack in some people. Occupational asthma is a special situation where individuals may develop asthma from exposures at work and others may develop asthma from exposures while doing their hobbies such as making pottery or sculpting at home. This means that a person becomes allergic to the substance or chemical, and takes several weeks or months to develop the sensitivity. Occupational asthma develops from specific substances, and once it’s established, a small exposure to the specific substance will trigger an asthma attack. For example, a baker may develop asthma sensitivity to rye flour but not to wheat flour. Some chemicals such as isocyanates and the epoxies can cause sensitizing asthma.

Asthma is classified as mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent or severe persistent, the last classification is rare, less than 5% of people with asthma.

What do you need to know about diagnosing asthma?

You may think that diagnosing disease is the doctor’s job. This is true, yet it is helpful for you to learn about the diagnostic process because you may be able to think of causes and triggers. You will be asked when and where the symptoms occur, about family history of asthma, about medications you may be taking, and about work or environmental exposures. Your lungs will be examined for wheezes. Routine blood tests will measure eosinophils, which are blood cells increased from allergies, and sometimes special blood tests for allergies. Pulmonary function tests are helpful for diagnosing and monitoring asthma. These are non-invasive tests that include how much air you exhale in one second called the forced expired volume in one second (FEV 1) and peak flow which is maximum speed of air you can exhale. You may have a chest x-ray or chest computer (CT) scan if an infection is suspected or other cause of the asthma attack is suspected.

What to know about asthma treatment options?

The good news is that asthma is treatable. If that doesn’t sound right to you, you might be remembering a time, as short a time ago as the 1980s, when people considered asthma a disease that would limit people. Now, with treatment, 95 percent of people with asthma, all but those with the most severe cases, can do pretty much anything. Think of asthma as a vulnerability to inflammation and bronchospasm. To manage your asthma successfully, you need to manage the airway inflammation and the bronchospasm. Treatment depends on the classification of asthma. An occasional bronchodilator inhaler is used for mild intermittent asthma. Treatment for people with persistent asthma means treating the underlying inflammatory condition means that involves not only a bronchodilator, but also an inhaled corticosteroid. You use the bronchodilator to rescue you from an asthma attack. It works quickly to relax the smooth muscles around the bronchi when they go into bronchospasm. You use the corticosteroid inhaler to reduce the underlying airway inflammation and the chronic vulnerability to bronchospasm. Inhaled corticosteroids maintain your underlying bronchial health, and regular use will help you manage your asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids for asthma are anti-inflammatory and considered safe. They do not circulate widely through the blood, but are deposited on the bronchial airways and stay there decreasing the amount of inflammation. Sometimes, corticosteroid as prednisone tablets or even intravenous are used for severe asthma or a disabling asthma attack. In these situations, it is helpful to know the adverse effects of prednisone, especially if the prednisone is used for more than ten days.

Monitor your asthma.

Monitoring your asthma is helpful so that changes can be detected and treatment can be adjusted to prevent an attack. For asthma, wheezing is the most common symptom to monitor. It usually signals constriction of the airways. The narrowing creates the wheezing sound, meaning that it’s time to use the bronchodilator inhaler. Sometimes, a cough is the first symptom. It’s helpful to monitor your triggers and whether you’ve developed a respiratory infection. If green phlegm develops, it’s probably time for an antibiotic. A peak flow meter can be used to monitor asthma. You blow into a tube and the measurement is recorded. You may see a decrease before you develop symptoms so that you can use your bronchodilator inhaler early, preventing an audible asthma attack. In addition, you can write down your activities during the peak flow monitoring and might discover triggers of your asthma attacks. When you monitor a disease you need to ask three questions. Are the symptoms better? Are they the same? Are they worse? If they’re better, take no action. If wheezing or chest tightness is the same, take another puff of the bronchodilator inhaler. If they’re worse, and not improving with the inhaler, especially if the symptoms worsen quickly, you might need to call 911 or visit the emergency room.

How do you create a healing environment?

How can people with asthma say they are “healed” when they have an illness that requires treatment every day? Because, healing is within the mind. Creating a healing environment combines the physical attributes of the body and the powerful influence of the mind. The three traditional physical components consists of eight hours of sleep, one hour of exercise daily, and eating the right foods in the right amount including lean protein and slow-burn carbohydrates. For severe persistent asthma, a pulmonary rehabilitation program can be useful. There are several ways to use your mind, first, use a positive approach to the illness. You can manage your asthma. You are in charge of your asthma. Second, use visualization. Visualize strong healthy airway cells replacing inflamed cells. You can use this mental imaging daily or whenever you think about it. Third, have compassion for your lungs. Portions of your lungs are perfect; the asthma is the issue and can be relegated to the background. Fourth, use controlled breathing. If you are having an asthma attack, try diaphragmatic breathing – put your hand on your stomach, breathe out as much as you can, and push in your stomach, lowering your hand. Keep breathing out as long as you can until there is no more air, then take in a new breath and repeat this for three to five breaths every few minutes. If you’re not having an attack, use controlled breathing for a calming effect and stress release. For example, concentrate on breathing in the same amount as breathing out – 50% in and 50% out – for several minutes. Breathing opposite to your usual breathing method for a few breaths can have a calming effect. Put your hand on your stomach and breathe in. Instead of having your hand lower, make your hand move upward. Try this when you find yourself stressed or nervous. You will be calmer after a few of these opposite breaths. Yoga breathing exercises can also be helpful. Fifth, learn to use your alpha brainwaves while awake and make alpha brainwave time every day. This can be through traditional meditation or eyes-open meditation. No need to dwell on feelings of hopelessness and despair. Replace these thoughts with strength, resolve, and persistence, which lead to increased energy for healthy management of your asthma.

Take action.

Learn about your asthma, know the types of asthma and the diagnostic process, understand the treatment options, monitor your asthma, and create an environment for healing. You are in charge. You can manage your asthma better than anyone else. Your chances of success are unlimited.

Gary R. Epler, M.D. at www.eplerhealth.com

Best-selling author of “Asthma: You’re the Boss

Potential Cause of Asthma Discovered May Also Lead to Cure

Cardiff scientists have for the first time identified the potential root cause of asthma and an existing drug that offers a new treatment.


Published today in Science Translational Medicine journal, University researchers, working in collaboration with scientists at King's College London and the Mayo Clinic (USA), describe the previously unproven role of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) in causing asthma, a disease which affects 300 million people worldwide.

The team used mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from asthmatic and non-asthmatic people to reach their findings.

Crucially, the paper highlights the effectiveness of a class of drugs known as calcilytics in manipulating CaSR to reverse all symptoms associated with the condition. These symptoms include airway narrowing, airway twitchiness and inflammation - all of which contribute to increased breathing difficulty.

"Our findings are incredibly exciting," said the principal investigator, Professor Daniela Riccardi, from the School of Biosciences. "For the first time we have found a link airways inflammation, which can be caused by environmental triggers - such as allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes – and airways twitchiness in allergic asthma.

"Our paper shows how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing. Using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, we show that it is possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms."

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, who helped fund the research, said:

"This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms. Five per cent of people with asthma don't respond to current treatments so research breakthroughs could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people.

"If this research proves successful we may be just a few years away from a new treatment for asthma, and we urgently need further investment to take it further through clinical trials. Asthma research is chronically underfunded; there have only been a handful of new treatments developed in the last 50 years so the importance of investment in research like this is absolutely essential."

While asthma is well controlled in some people, around one-in-twelve patients respond poorly to current treatments. This significant minority accounts for around 90% of healthcare costs associated with the condition.

According to Cardiff Professor Paul Kemp, who co-authored the study, the identification of CaSR in airway tissue means that the potential for treatment of other inflammatory lung diseases beyond asthma is immense. These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis, for which currently there exists no cure. It is predicted that by 2020 these diseases will be the third biggest killers worldwide.Professor Riccardi and her collaborators are now seeking funding to determine the efficacy of calcilytic drugs in treating asthmas that are especially difficult to treat, particularly steroid-resistant and influenza-exacerbated asthma, and to test these drugs in patients with asthma.

Calcilytics were first developed for the treatment of osteoporosis around 15 years ago with the aim of strengthening deteriorating bone by targeting CaSR to induce the release of an anabolic hormone. Although clinically safe and well tolerated in people, calcilytics proved unsuccessful in treating osteoporosis.

But this latest breakthrough has provided researchers with the unique opportunity to re-purpose these drugs, potentially accelerating the time it takes for them to be approved for use asthma patients. Once funding has been secured, the group aim to be trialling the drugs on humans within two years.

"If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place," added Professor Riccardi.

The study was part-funded by Asthma UK, the Cardiff Partnership Fund and a BBSRC 'Sparking Impact' award.