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Christmas is A-Coming

christmas-tree-blue-vector-illustrationFor those of you interested in supporting us by buying charity Christmas cards, you can order directly online with CharityChristmasCards.com

CharityChristmasCards.com sell both paper cards and, for those of you who are more green in nature, they also provide online cards to email to your friends and family. They also supply corporate cards so you can put your company name on the front cover.  Up to 50p per card is donated directly to Breathing Matters.

For those of you around the London area, why not come along to our Charity Christmas stall on Friday 25.11.16 11am-2pm at UCH Atrium where we will be selling stocking fillers, jewellery and designer handmade Christmas cards.

If you are interested in purchasing our handmade Christmas cards, which Jane Walker has designed, contact us directly on breathingmatters@ucl.ac.uk

Would you like to find out what type of Christmas charity supporter you are?  Read our article at http://bit.ly/19gNAoH

 

Don’t Let Flu Catch You This Year

bug-chasing-manThe ‘flu, or influenza virus can cause infections all year round, but in the UK, it is most common in the winter. There are many strains, some of which are worse than others, such as swine ‘flu (H1N1 strain) which tends to have a more rapid onset, high fevers and stomach upset and has caused fatalities, often in previously fit adults.  ‘Flu affects 10% of the population each year, but rises to 25-30% during an epidemic. In contrast, adults have approx 2 to 3 colds per year and children 5 to 6.

Do I Have ‘Flu or a Cold?

Features of ‘Flu Features of a Cold
  • Symptoms appear suddenly
  • Leaves you exhausted and unable to move, affecting the whole body
  • Can cause complications, including pneumonia, sometimes fatal
  • Lasts for one week, then you get better
  • Symptoms appear gradually
  • Affects only nose, throat, sinuses and upper chest
  • Still able to function
  • Recover fully in a week

Vaccination Against the ‘Flu

Anyone can get the ‘flu and, the more a person is in close contact with people who have the virus, the more likely they are to get it.  Certain at risk groups are advised to have a ‘flu vaccination. They include:

  • Everyone over the age of 65.
  • People of any age with lung diseases, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes or lowered immunity.
  • Anyone living in a residential or nursing home.
  • Carers of those at risk.

The UK is fortunate to have a safe and effective vaccination against the ‘flu, which is provided free of charge by the NHS. Those most at risk are advised to have a vaccination every year. This is because the ‘flu virus changes slightly every year.  Despite popular belief, the ‘flu vaccination can not give you ‘flu. It’s true that some people experience symptoms of a heavy cold at the same time or just after they’ve had the ‘flu jab – this is simply a coincidence and the symptoms are caused by one of the many common cold viruses in the autumn and winter.  It is still possible to suffer heavy colds after a vaccination, as the ‘flu jab only protects people from the ‘flu virus, not other viruses.

The ‘flu vaccination is available from October each year.  Anyone who thinks they need it should talk to their doctor or nurse.

How to Treat the ‘Flu

Antibiotics are of no use in treating ‘flu. Anti-viral medication is available from the GP for at risk groups, but it needs to be taken early on in the disease to stop the virus multiplying, and may only reduce the symptoms rather than treating the infection.

The best ways to treat the symptoms of flu are:

  • Get plenty of rest. The body uses a lot of energy fighting infections, so resting for the first couple of days gets it off to a good start.
  • Keep warm.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and try hot water with lemon, ginger and honey to relieve symptoms such as sore throat.
  • Take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

Always contact your doctor if you’re not getting better after a few days, if you’re unduly short of breath or if you’re coughing up blood or large amounts of yellow or green phlegm.

How to Keep Healthy and Avoid Getting the ‘Flu

  • Keep your immune system strong by eating a healthy diet.healthy-man
  • Take regular exercise.
  • Get enough rest and relaxation.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Take regular vitamins and bump up your vitamin C.
  • Wash your hands often and keep a bottle of antibacterial handclean around.
  • Avoid people who are coughing and sneezing, especially if they’re not covering their mouth and nose.
  • Use and bin your tissues.

Exciting Announcement: Charity Christmas Concert

Xmas holly and berryWe are excited to announce that The Holst Singers (one of Britain’s foremost choirs) will be giving a Charity Christmas Concert in aid of Breathing Matters.

The Charity Christmas Concert will take place on Friday, 5th December 2014 at 7pm in the new Pavilion in the grounds of University College London, Gower Street. The concert will raise money to help fund research being undertaken at University College London Respiratory by Professor Jeremy Brown and his colleagues into the causes and treatment of bronchiectasis.

Bronchiectasis is a lung disease that most people have never heard of, yet it is not rare and affects an estimated 100,000 people in the UK of all ages, including children. Bronchiectasis results from damage to the tubes taking air into the lungs (the bronchi). The damage makes the bronchi unable to clear bacteria from the lungs. As a result, patients with bronchiectasis have almost continuous lung infections. Almost all of us has had the occasional chest infection, when for a few days we have felt grotty and had a severe cough, sometimes producing mucky looking phlegm – but patients with bronchiectasis feel like this the whole time, causing them general ill-health and making their lives miserable. Severe bronchiectasis also impairs the patient’s ability to breathe normally, so that eventually they can only walk a few yards without resting, and may die due to respiratory failure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for bronchiectasis, and there has been little research into the best ways to treat patients with bronchiectasis. For about half of patients, we don’t even know why they have developed the bronchiectasis. Despite this, research into bronchiectasis is very under-funded, which makes improving the care of patients with bronchiectasis very difficult.

Holst SingersThe Holst Singers Charity Christmas Concert will include unaccompanied seasonal music by Britten, Warlock, Whitacre and “The Lamb” by Tavener and “The Hymn of Jesus” by Britten and there will also be some arrangements for unaccompanied voices of popular carols and Christmas songs so there will be something in the programme for everyone to enjoy.

The BBC describes the Holst Singers as a “leading chorus on the international stage”. In concert, the choir is renowned for dramatic and engaging performances, described by The Times as “interactive concert going at its most revelatory”. Holst Singers’ performances in 2014 have included a celebration of the music of John Tavener at Christ Church, Spitalfields, and Handel’s Israel in Egypt at St. John’s, Smith Square. With the City of London Sinfonia and the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, the Holst Singers released a CD in 2012 which included “A Ceremony of Carols” and “St Nicolas”. The choir has toured extensively both in the UK and abroad, with visits to Estonia in March 2009, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 2012 (with the Hilliard Ensemble), and Northern Ireland in October 2013.  http://bit.ly/1D4E9tL

Tickets cost £35, which includes light refreshments served at 7pm and a substantial donation to Breathing Matters to fund research into bronchiectasis. Seating is unreserved. Tickets and further information available from Donna Basire at breathingmatters@ucl.ac.uk

If you are unable to attend the Charity Christmas Concert at UCL on Friday, 5th December 2014, but would like to make a donation in aid of Professor Brown’s research into bronchiectasis, then please contact Breathing Matters at the above email address or donate directly via the Justgiving Page https://www.justgiving.com/breathingmatters/

New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking

It is the New Year, so it’s time for some self-improvement. Have you made New Year’s resolutions before, but failed to keep them? I would argue that a resolution is too restraining and negative, I would prefer to focus on adopting habits that keep you healthy. Let’s concentrate on the smokers amongst you. You know who you are?  Have you tried quitting before or have you persuaded yourself that your genes will protect you from the ravages of cigarettes?

First, think of why you should stop smoking and then, when you have decided to (and this might be the difficult step), take the first teeny weeny step. You do not have to throw all your cigarettes away for good – although that might be one approach. Take a small step, develop a new habit and, once it is taken, you are on the road to being an ‘ex-smoker’.  Keep taking little steps that help you develop little habits and you will achieve your aim.

Take Small Steps

What small steps can you take?  Try these:
1.  Develop a disgust for cigarettes. Spend 5 minutes each day imaging the toxic smoke filling your lungs and turning them black, and large globs of fat being deposited in the blood vessels of your brain, heart and legs. The surgeon teeing you up for an amputation operation, etc. Remind yourself of this every time you smoke.

2.  Toss a coin each day. Heads you smoke that day, tails you don’t.   Or, if that is too difficult, ‘tails’ you don’t smoke until midday or something similar. Keep this going for a year and you may reduce your intake by 50% (provided you don’t smoke twice as many on the smoking days).  On smoke-free days, have a shower, wash your hair, put on clean clothes and enjoy the fresh smell that you exude.

3.  Take fewer draws from each cigarette (you are going to have to be honest here).

4.  As an incentive, you could get yourself sponsored for giving up smoking and help a charity at the same time.

5.  Make the first step to getting expert help.  You can get excellent help from the following:

No matter how small your first step, it is a first step and it will be difficult – if it wasn’t, everyone would do it.  Keep in mind the pluses of being an EX-smoker.  Reward yourself for even a small achievement (not with a cigarette please).

Here are some of the reasons why you should quit (this is taken directly from http://smokefree.nhs.uk/why-quit/health-and-confidence/

Health Benefits

  • You will reduce your risk of developing illness, disability or death caused by cancer, heart or lung disease.
  • You will reduce your risk of gangrene or amputation caused by circulatory problems.
  • You will protect the health of those around you by not exposing them to second-hand smoke.
  • You will reduce the chances of your children suffering from asthma or glue ear.
  • You will improve your fertility levels and your chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
  • You will improve your breathing and general fitness.
  • You will enjoy the taste of food more.

Your lifestyle WILL improve (after the short term discomfort)

  • You will save money – as much as several hundred pounds a month, if you’re a heavy smoker.  Perhaps some of this ‘spare’ money could be given to charity!
  • You will no longer smell of stale tobacco.
  • The appearance of your skin and teeth will improve.
  • You will feel more confident in social situations – you won’t be worrying about the second-hand smoke you create anymore.
  • As a non-smoker, you may even find you get approached more often by potential new friends and partners when out socialising.
  • Your home will smell fresh and you will no longer be staining your walls with tar.
  • You will reduce the risk of fire in your home.

Share your own stories with Breathing Matters. We are adding a page to our website to celebrate smokers who have quit.  If you would like to join our gallery of successful quitters in 2013, email us on info@breathingmatters.co.uk with your story and a photo.

GOOD LUCK!

Organ Donation: A True Gift

The gift of an organ to a patient who is in desperate need can be life-saving. A single individual can, after their death, donate their organs to save the lives and sight of up to 7 different people. Many people in the UK are waiting for organs to be donated and, every day, three people (1000 people per year) die waiting. Whilst the majority of people in the UK would accept an organ for themselves or their children to save their lives, only 29% are actually on the organ donor list.

As well as joining the donor list http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/Consent.do), it is also important to make sure that your immediate family know that you want to be a donor.  This means that, if they are asked about your wishes, they can consent to the use of your organs for donation, quickly and without any guilt, confident that this is what you would have wanted. 

Recently, I asked some of my non-medical friends if they were organ donors and was surprised that that very few of them are. These are some of the reasons that they gave for their decisions and my answers to them.

1.  Haven’t people woken up from severe brain injury years afterwards? I am worried that if I am a donor I will be declared ‘dead’ even though I may still have a chance of recovery.

Organs are only taken from patients that are on life support machines in Intensive Care and are declared ‘brain dead” or from patients who have died but whose organs can be removed very quickly (within minutes) after their death (realistically this is only possible if patients die in hospital, usually on an intensive care unit). It is true that some patients with severe brain injury may recover up to years later, but these patients are not ‘brain dead’, they may have wide spread brain injury or be in a ‘persistent vegetative state’, but organs would not be taken from these patients as they are not dead.   Brain death is a definite diagnosis that requires a complex series of tests 24 hours apart supervised by at least two experienced, senior and independent doctors registered with the UK General Medical Council. These tests show that there is no viable brain function, the brain will not recover and the lungs and heart can not function at all without life support machines in the Intensive Care Unit.

2.  My sister had a terminal disease and was allowed to die at home, her body stayed with us for a couple of days. If she had been an organ donor, this would not have been possible.

In fact, the only people that can donate organs at the moment are those that are on life support machines on the Intensive care unit who are then shown to be ‘brain dead’ or those that die in hospital whose organs can be removed safely within minutes of their deaths.  Patients with terminal disease are not suitable as organ donors for many other reasons so this would not have interfered with a conscious patient’s last days with her family.

3.  I am worried that, if the doctors know that I am an organ donor, they will not try to keep me alive.
Every doctors’ primary responsibility is to their patients. No doctor would risk your life in the chance that you might save someone else by organ donation. The only way that you can become an organ donor is if you are declared ‘brain-dead’ by two independent doctors using specific tests, or in rare cases if you have already died and your own blood circulation has stopped, but your organs can be taken from your body very quickly, within minutes and kept cool on ice. The UK Donor Ethics Committee meets several times a year to consider ethical issues related to organ donation; they are very conscious that nothing should be done to a patient that is not in their best interests, particularly if they are on the organ donor register.

4. I am too old to be a donor, no-one would want my organs?
There is no upper or lower age limit for joining the register.  Even if you are well into your 60s, some of your organs may be useful to someone. Some individuals may be chronologically old, but with hearts as good as a much younger person. It is best to be on the register and let the doctors decide if they want your organs or not than to use this as an excuse!!

So, join the NHS Organ Donor Register today.  It only takes a few minutes to do this online at http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/Consent.do). 

It could be the best gift you ever give.

  

 

Christmas cards are coming: pre-order yours now!

Breathing Matters will be producing Christmas Cards this year – the cost of which will go directly towards research work in the Centre for Respiratory Research.

There are 2 styles available, both designed by children.  Packs will include 5 of each design, totalling 10 cards per pack. All cards are A6 (14.8cm x 10.5cm) in size.

Click on ths link to see the images Charity Christmas Cards for Breathing Matters

Price per pack of 10 cards with envelopes is £3.99.  

You can pre-order yours now via info@breathingmatters.co.uk

We are also looking for volunteers to sell these locally for us – if you feel you could do this, please contact Donna Basire on info@breathingmatters.co.uk