This site uses cookies. You can read how we use them in our privacy policy.

fighting
pulmonary fibrosis

and infection

sign up to receive our news and updates

  • This form collects your name and email address so that we can keep you updated with news and information about Breathing Matters. Please check our Privacy Policy to see how we protect and manage your data.

About

articles

  • Related articles
  • Categories
  • Archives

Who Wants To Be A Superhero for the Day – New 5K Run in the City of London

Would you like to be a real superhero?

Would you like to dress up as a superhero and run 5K through the City of London along the Thames?

Then – ‘Superhero in the City’ will be right up your [London] street!

This fun inaugural race event is on Thursday 13.6.19 at 7pm. It starts at the North side of the Millennium Bridge, via the Southbank, then crosses back over Southwark Bridge and continues along the North Embankment towards St Paul’s Cathedral.

It’s the first race of its kind and we just know that this will be a popular event for years to come.

Why not be the first to be a Superhero this year!

Breathing Matters has places for £24 each. But don’t delay, you need to register by 20.5.19 to guarantee your place: https://bit.ly/2GOk9V6  We just ask that you raise £50 for Breathing Matters towards our valuable research.

Tips for Surviving Hay Fever

Itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing … oh no, it’s Hay Fever season again!!! 

Fear not, this article will help you prepare.

What is Hay Fever?

Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) is an allergy to pollen. The pollen season separates into three main sections:

  1. Tree pollen – late March to mid-May.
  2. Grass pollen – mid-May to July.
  3. Weed pollen – end of June to September

To get the latest pollen forecast, view the Met Office weather map which provides a UK forecast of the pollen count and provides any hay fever sufferers with an early warning.

Who Gets Hay Fever?

Hay fever is very common. It affects about 2 in 10 people in the UK. It often first develops in school-age children and during the teenage years, but may start even later in life. Hay fever tends to run in families. You are also more likely to develop hay fever if you already have asthma or eczema. A tendency to these atopic illnesses can run in families.

Hay Fever Symptoms

  • Common symptoms include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, mouth and throat. Less common are headaches and hives.
  • Asthma symptoms – such as wheeze and breathlessness, may get worse if you already have asthma. Some people have asthma symptoms only during the hay fever season.
  • The symptoms may be so bad in some people that they can affect sleep, interfere with school and examinations, or interfere with work.

Hay Fever PreventionHay Fever Fact

Although it is very difficult to avoid exposure to pollen, there are a number of measures you can take that will help you to minimise exposure and ease the severity of your hay fever symptoms. Following these steps may help provide some relief from your symptoms:

  • Keep windows closed when at home and overnight. Most pollen is released in the early morning and falls to ground level in the evenings when the air cools.
  • When outdoors, wear wrap-around sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. For any outdoor tasks, such as gardening, hay fever sufferers should wear a mask.
  • Some people find smearing your nostrils with vaseline to capture the pollen helps.
  • Avoid drying clothes outside when pollen counts are high. If you do, shake items before bringing them inside.
  • Keep car windows closed when driving and fit a pollen filter to reduce the impact of pollen spores. Ensure your air conditioning is set to recirculate the air inside.
  • When indoors: vacuum regularly and clean surfaces with a damp cloth. The British Allergy Foundation have a list of ‘approved’ anti-allergen vacuums that help to filter out pollen on their website, allergyuk.org.
  • Avoid bringing fresh flowers indoors.
  • Don’t allow smoking in the house as this will irritate the lining of your nose, eyes, throat and airways, making your hay fever symptoms worse.
  • After being outside, shower and wash your hair to remove pollen.
  • Grooming and washing pets more frequently at this time of year, to remove trapped pollen from their coats, can be helpful too. Pollen levels tend to be higher on warm, dry days.
  • The Metereological office offers a useful five day pollen forecast (metoffice.gov.uk), so you can prepare for high pollen count days.

Hay fever sufferers can benefit from a wide range of non-drowsy medication which can be prescribed by your GP, or alternatively purchased over the counter from your local pharmacy.  Starting this medication two weeks before the season can prepare your body.

Your GP or hospital consultant can help you find the most appropriate treatment for you especially if you also have asthma and other allergies. Treatments include antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays, corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops, nasal decongestants, eye drops, immunotherapy, and alternative therapies.

Treatment for Severe Symptoms

Rarely, a short course of steroid tablets is prescribed for a week or so. For example, for students sitting examinations,   A short course is usually safe.   However, you should not take steroid tablets for long periods to treat hay fever, as serious side-effects may develop.

Dr Harsha Kariyawasam, Consultant Allergist at the Royal ENT Hospital says, “‘The most important step that an individual with allergic rhinitis should do is to have an accurate diagnosis. The exact allergen provoking symptoms should be identified. Where possible, allergen avoidance measures should be instigated. Treatment with medication, introduced in a step wise manner should also be undertaken. We are getting very good treating allergic rhinitis and there are several effective new treatments available. Allergy desentisation by a trained allergist is possible and there are several exciting vaccines either in practice or in development. Everyone deserves to enjoy spring and summer!”.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Wish List

  • £5 – For equipment to take blood for testing antibodies for a patient with IPF.
  • £50 – Allows us to grow individual fibroblasts (these are the cells that produce the scarring) in the laboratory from the lungs of patients with IPF to do further studies.
  • £500 – Allows us to isolate the platelets from patients with IPF so that we can examine them in the laboratory and compare them to platelets from people with normal lungs.
  • £1,000 – For specialised antibodies to help us develop a novel blood test for early detection of PF.
  • £1,500 – For accessories for our lung function equipment for one year.
  • £3,000 – For a study to assess whether treatments for rheumatoid arthritis help the lung disease associated with RA.
  • £5,000 – To provide all the equipment and running costs for a ‘Western Bot’ which allows us to look at abnormal proteins in the lungs of patients with pulmonary fibrosis.
  • £10,000 – For a research nurse for a year working 2 days a week to collect valuable patient data and samples for research.
  • £50,000 – Pump priming a blue sky research proposal: allows a senior clinician to undertake a substantial period of research (a year or more) as a named research fellow to develop an hypothesis that is then submitted for full funding (£300K+).

Visit our new Justgiving page

Breathing Matters has a brand new Justgiving page.  We have transferring to a campaign page under the UCLH Charity Justgiving Page.  The new link is: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/breathingmatters  This will save us on Justgiving fees for Breathing Matters, so more of your money goes directly to where it’s needed!

Please visit our new online donation page to donate, or to just have a look-see 🙂

Current open Justgiving pages on our old Justgiving Page will remain active, so you don’t need to do anything.

Together we can do more!

 

Royal Parks Half Marathon – Run for Breathing Matters

Arguably, one of the most stunning half marathons in the UK – the Royal Parks Half Marathon  showcases London’s iconic landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall running through the capital’s four Royal Parks.  This award-winning event is the only half marathon that goes straight through central London, and its flat course makes it ideal for both beginners and seasoned runners!

It starts and finishes in Hyde Park on Sunday, 13th October 2019.

The ballot has closed for this amazing event, but you can still run for Breathing Matters as we have places available through our charitable partner, Run for Charity.  More information at: https://bit.ly/2U1En6I

Entry fee £50

Minimum pledge £450

To sign up, email us at breathingmatters@ucl.ac.uk

Register by 15th May 2019 to secure your place!

 

Answers to Lung ‘True or False’ Winter 2019 Newsletter Quiz

 

Q: True or False: The left lung has three lobes and the right lung has two lobes?

A: The answer is FALSE. The right lung has THREE lobes and the left lung has TWO lobes

 

Q: True or False: As you age, your lungs hold less air?

A: The answer is TRUE. Your lungs are at their peak with you’re in your 20s to mid-30s.  After that, your diaphragm gets weaker and your lung tissue can’t stretch as well.

 

Q: True or False: At the time of birth, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid?

A: The answer is TRUE.  At the time of birth, a baby’s lungs are not inflated and are actually filled with a fluid that is secreted by the lungs. When the baby moves out of the birth canal, a sudden change in environment and temperature triggers the first breath which usually takes place 10 seconds after the baby is delivered from the birth canal.

 

Q: True or False: Our lungs can never fully deflate?

A: The answer is TRUE. No matter how hard we exhale, our lungs will always retain one litre of air in the airways. This makes the lungs only human organs that can float on water.

 

Q: True or False: The rib cage helps the lungs to breathe?

A: The answer is FALSE. The diaphragm helps the lungs to breathe.  The diaphragm, located below the lungs, is the major muscle of respiration. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle that contracts rhythmically and continually, and most of the time, involuntarily. Upon inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and flattens and the chest cavity enlarges. This contraction creates a vacuum, which pulls air into the lungs. Upon exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and returns to its domelike shape, and air is forced out of the lungs.

 

 

Winter 2019 Newsletter

Prudential Ride London 100 2019 – Secure your place now

Are you a keen cyclist and want a serious challenge to plan for?  How about the Prudential Ride London 100 on Sunday, 4th August 2019?

Ride London really is a true gem of an event starting at the iconic Olympic VeloPark in Lee Valley, cycling 100 miles of closed roads past London landmarks and through the stunning Surrey countryside (and hills!) and finishing in champion-style at the Mall outside Buckingham Palace!  It’s the UK’s largest world-class festival of cycling.

You don’t have to be an elite cyclist, however, and can choose a start time based at your level – you just need to be able to finish the course in under 9 hours and be over 18.  More info for riders can be found here.

Breathing Matters has a number of guaranteed places for this year’s event.  Registration is £50 and we ask that you raise £450 for Breathing Matters.  Groups of up to 6 are welcome. To sign up, email us at breathingmatters@ucl.ac.uk

The deadline for registration is Tuesday, 1st May 2019, but we expect a lot of interest, so please don’t delay registering your interest with us to secure your place.

 

 

 

2018 Roundup from our Medical Director

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on another remarkable year for Breathing Matters.  As we reach our 8th year, many of the seeds that we planted in 2011 are bearing fruit.

Our cryoscopic lung biopsy service, allowing us to do relatively non-invasive lung biopsies, continues to flourish and has allowed many of our patients to have a biopsy taken, but avoid the 3 day hospital stay and side-effects of a surgical lung biopsy, by having it all done by ‘key hole’.

We have finally, after many different approaches, shown a role for platelets and blood clotting in pulmonary fibrosis and have some very exciting data that we are submitting for publication in 2019. We have gone on to show that anti-coagulation may have beneficial effects in patients with IPF and we are hoping to take this into a feasibility study in 2019. It will take some years before this has the widespread clinical impact that we hope as there are many hurdles still to negotiate, but I am confident that Breathing Matters will finally answer the question ‘should patients with pulmonary fibrosis be anti-coagulated routinely?’.

However, our major achievement in 2018 in pulmonary fibrosis was the publication of our study of FDG-PET scans in IPF patients, followed for 10 years.  In this tour-de-force that over 150 of our patients took part in, we showed that FDG-PET scans can predict how well individual patients do over time and are able to refine the current scoring systems based on age and lung function. This work has led on to the major pre-occupation of the last few months which has been the submission of a funding request for £400,000 to the National Institute of Health Research to see if FDG-PET can predict which patients should be treated with the drug, nintedanib or pifenidone or neither, and whether using the information from PET scans can improve the quality and length of patients’ lives – which is our ultimate goal.

A potential new vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae, the commonest cause of pneumonia – Streptococcus pneumoniae is the commonest cause of pneumonia, and vaccines to prevent infections by this bacteria are very important for preventing lung infections both in infants and in adults (the elderly and those with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, and interstitial lung disease). However, there is still a need for a better vaccine that is cheaper and effective against all S. pneumoniae strains rather than just a proportion. Making the most effective S. pneumoniae vaccines is expensive as it requires multiple chemical steps that each need to be very carefully controlled to ensure they have worked properly.   Professor Brown’s group, in collaboration with Professor Wren from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, have now shown in a recent scientific paper that an effective vaccine can be made using genetically engineered bacteria, a much simpler and cheaper method.  Furthermore, they also have shown that the vaccine could protect against many more strains than the existing vaccine.  It is hoped that this paper will stimulate investment in the new vaccine approach and eventually lead to the introduction of cheaper but better S. pneumoniae vaccines to help prevent lung infections.  Reglinski et al. ‘A recombinant conjugated pneumococcal vaccine that protects against murine infections with a similar efficacy to Prevnar-13.’  NPJ Vaccines, in press 2018

New study for bronchiectasis patients – Prof Brown’s research group has started a new study for patients with bronchiectasis, mainly for patients who have developed bronchiectasis as a consequence of a haematology disease or are receiving rituximab. The aim of the project is to investigate the effects of antibody deficiency on how the immune system is able to recognise and control Streptococcus pneumoniae infections. The study is being done by Dr Hall and Dr Jose and involves measuring antibody and white cell recognition of S. pneumoniae in volunteers before and after an injection of dead S. pneumoniae into their forearm.  Dr Hall will be contacting patients with bronchiectasis who may be suitable for this study to describe in more detail what it involves.

Bronch UK update – we have now recruited 110 patients into the Medical Research Council funded Bronch UK study; well done to Dr Hall and Joel Solis (research nurse) for reaching this target, and thank you for all the patients who have volunteered to take part. The data from this study will be essential in designing future trials of new therapies or ways of managing bronchiectasis.

I would like to thank you all for your support over the year in what has been an uncertain and challenging time for many of you.  With your support, Breathing Matters has continued to excel by focusing on our core mission.

Professor Jo Porter, Medical Director of Breathing Matters.

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn 2018 Newsletter – Answers to Pollution Quiz

 

Q: What % of Londoners live in areas exceeding the World Health Organisation recommended pollution levels?

A: 95%

 

Q: What is PM2.5?

A: PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. Commonly written as PM2.5, particles in this category are so small that they can only be detected with an electron microscope.  Since they are so small and light, fine particles tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. This increases the chances of humans and animals inhaling them into the bodies.

 

Q: Which of the following can you do to help decrease levels of pollution?

  • Reduce car journeys.
  • Keep house temperature down.
  • Walk more.
  • Campaign for change.
  • All of the above.

A: All of the above.  Please do your best not to add to the pollution.