Grandmother and granddaughter reading book on cabin sofa

Breathe easier: 7 ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality

(BPT) – More than 6 million American children — nearly 9 percent of all kids in the U.S. — have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, asthma attacks send more than a million people to emergency rooms, including approximately 24,000 children younger than 15, the CDC reports. Yet health experts agree many of those asthma attacks could be avoided through a range of tactics, including by improving air quality inside homes.

“Most people can control their asthma and live symptom-free,” the CDC reports. Knowing how to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants inside the home could help people avoid at least some asthma attacks.

Asthma and kids

More than 47 percent of all asthma attacks occur in children, according to CDC data. KidsHealth.org says asthma is the leading cause of chronic absence from school, and the chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room most often.

Many factors can trigger allergy attacks, including exposure to allergens inside the home. As the weather warms and parents open windows to bring fresh air into their homes, the breeze that enters can be full of pollen, mold spores and other airborne irritants. What’s more, irritants already inside the home such as pet dander, dust mites, smoke, bacteria and viruses can contribute to asthma symptoms.

Improving indoor air quality

Your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems play a critical role in the air quality inside your home. HVAC manufacturer Coleman, which makes ventilator systems, air cleaners and ultraviolet irradiation systems to support indoor air quality, offers some tips for ensuring your HVAC system works to clean the air inside your home:

* Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to ensure all components are working efficiently. A well-maintained system can dramatically improve air quality.

* Change air filters regularly, and choose a filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher the rating, the better the filter will be at capturing airborne particles. Clogged or low-MERV filters may not effectively remove particles from the air, leaving them for your HVAC system to recirculate. In fact, HVAC systems can recirculate contaminants an average of five to seven times per day, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.

* Vent bathrooms and laundry rooms directly outside the home, and ensure vent fans are always working well.

* Any equipment that creates combustion and exhaust, such as fireplaces, heaters, stoves, range tops and furnaces should also vent outside to keep harmful fumes from re-entering your home’s HVAC system.

* When you vacuum, turn on your home’s HVAC system. Vacuuming stirs particles into the air, and your running HVAC system can catch those particles and filter them from the air.

* Monitor and control the humidity in your home. Bacteria and viruses, which can contribute to asthma symptoms, thrive in very dry environments. Consider adding a whole-home humidifier, like Luxaire’s Acclimate Whole-Home Humidifiers, to your HVAC system. Through the use of natural evaporation, the humidifiers help maintain optimum humidity throughout the entire house, without the limitations of portable humidifiers that can only affect a single room.

* Air cleaners can support your HVAC system in removing irritants from the air. Like single-room humidifiers, however, portable air cleaners have limited effect. Consider incorporating a whole-home air cleaner that operates as part of your existing HVAC system.

Visit www.colemanac.com/IAQ to learn more about products available to improve the indoor air quality in your home, and to find a local contractor. You can also follow the company on Twitter at @ColemanHVAC.

Studies show the number of people with asthma is growing worldwide. Health experts from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health agree that controlling indoor air quality in homes could benefit children with asthma, as well as asthma sufferers of all ages.

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Survey: Cataracts impact lifestyle; surgery brings emotional benefits

(BPT) – You may know that cataracts can interfere with your ability to see clearly, but might be unaware of their impact on your emotions. Alcon, the global leader in eye care, conducted a survey of about 1,300 people age 60 and older who have undergone cataract surgery and found that almost 60 percent of respondents said cataracts made them feel annoyed, frustrated or old. Also, many respondents said that the condition makes some daily activities harder.

If cataracts are impacting your ability to perform your usual day-to-day activities, and clouding the richness and detail of life, there’s good news. Cataract surgery is common, effective and not only can improve your vision, but many patients report emotional benefits and some positive impact on their lifestyles. What’s more, 93 percent of those surveyed say they would recommend cataract surgery to someone considering the procedure.

“Cataracts impair more than just vision, they can interfere with a patient’s lifestyle and emotions,” says Dr. Lawrence Woodard, ophthalmologist and medical director of Omni Eye Services of Atlanta, Georgia. “Surgery can make a significant difference, allowing people to see more clearly and get back to doing the things they love. Many of my post-surgery patients report how happy they are to get back to their life.”

Cataract Facts

Cataracts, or clouding that occurs in the eye’s naturally clear lens, are one of the most common types of eye conditions associated with aging and one of the leading causes of age-related vision impairment in the U.S., according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). They can’t be prevented and occur naturally over time, causing the clear lens in your eye to become cloudy from the buildup of proteins. As the lens becomes cloudier, less light can pass through it into your eye and your vision becomes blurred. People with cataracts may also have trouble seeing at night, or experience sensitivity to light and glare. They may see “halos” around lights, have double vision, or feel that colors look faded.

Cataracts affect more than 24.4 million Americans age 40 and older, according to Prevent Blindness America. By 2050, that number will more than double to about 50 million, the NEI projects. While nearly everyone who lives long enough will eventually develop cataracts to some extent, certain groups are at greater risk. In fact, according to a study by the NEI, African Americans are twice as likely to develop early onset cataracts due to certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. Additionally, cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment among Hispanics, according to a study by University of Arizona researchers.

Cataracts and Lifestyle

Beyond the common symptoms of cataracts, many people affected also have difficulty with some day-to-day activities. Nearly two-in-three respondents (64 percent) report that cataracts impacted their lives before surgery, such as making it difficult to work, see colors, drive and watch TV and movies. For many, undergoing surgery brought into focus the true impact cataracts had on their lives. Nearly 40 percent of respondents say they didn’t realize just how much they were missing, or didn’t truly realize the emotional impacts of cataracts until after they had surgery. For example, more than 65 percent of people surveyed reported being surprised by the brightness and vividness of colors following surgery.

“I can see things that I couldn’t see before,” says John Brown (name changed to protect patient privacy), who underwent cataract surgery. “I can appreciate things I couldn’t appreciate before. Now that I can see well, I can appreciate the beauty of the world. It’s a life-changing thing.”

Since cataracts are very common, many people who develop them may also have existing conditions that are already affecting their vision, such as astigmatism. This common condition is caused by a slight difference in the curvature of the eye’s surface, resulting in blurred vision. According to the NEI, it is most often treated with corrective glasses or contact lenses. What many people with cataracts don’t realize is that there are treatment options available that can correct both conditions in one procedure.

“Patients may not be aware that there are two-in-one treatment options that can fix both cataracts and astigmatism at the same time,” says Woodard. “By treating both conditions, they could potentially find themselves free of the glasses for distance they’ve worn their whole lives. If you’re considering cataract surgery, it’s important to talk to your eye doctor to decide what treatment option is best for you.”

Visit MyCataracts.com or call 1-844-MYCATARACT (1-844-692-2827) to learn more about cataracts and treatment options.

Dr. Woodard is a paid consultant for Alcon.

Patient “John Brown” received modest compensation from Alcon for talking about his actual experience.

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Island Coconut-Shrimp-Salad

5 reasons summer is salad season

(BPT) – Summer is the perfect time to turn over a new you. With the arrival of warm weather, a relaxed schedule and summer vacations, this is the moment to invest in a new wardrobe and, of course, a new, healthier menu. When you think of summer cuisine, light and flavorful is the order of the day, and nothing captures that order quite like a fresh, vibrant salad.

Salads can be so much more than just a healthy lunch or dinner choice, thanks to their minimal prep requirements and the boatload of benefits they can deliver, such as the five posted below. So, take a mindful turn toward salads this summer and enjoy their many perks.

* A great source of vegetables — and fruits, too. You’re constantly hearing you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so make it easy by including them in whichever kind of salad you choose. Peppers, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes are all popular salad staples, but no matter which vegetable you crave, feel good knowing that it’s a natural fit on your salad plate. And if you’re trying to up your fruit intake, you’ll find plenty of reasons to add strawberries, grapes and other delicious treats to your salad serving.

* A window of opportunity. If the idea of a salad seems same old same old, it’s time to get creative. And it’s so easy. There are virtually no rules when it comes to whipping up a salad, so don’t always settle for what you think “just has to go in there.” Seize the day and mix in what you truly want, instead. The inclusion of seafood is an easy way to add both a lean protein and the omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your body. Plus, seafood flat-out tastes great. Salmon, shrimp and crab are all excellent options.

* Easy, carefree meals. With so much to do during the summer, your life is constantly on the go. When you don’t have much time, a salad can be your best friend. Simply toss those ingredients together and grab a fork. It’s the perfect quick fix when you just want to relax after a fun-filled summer day.

* Loaded with health benefits. You already know salads are an easy, scrumptious way to satisfy your recommended vegetable intake, but did you know they can also be your path to numerous other nutritional benefits? Adding spinach to your salad, for instance, has been proven to support your need for vitamins A and K, which help your bones and your vision. Meanwhile, romaine lettuce has been shown to lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and arugula can reduce the chance you’ll get diabetes.

* New tastes every single day. Even if you don’t consider yourself the creative type in the kitchen, you can still enjoy the limitless options that salads present. The web is loaded with unique salad recipes, allowing you to sample a tasty combination you may have never tried before. For example, you can start your summer salad stretch with this inventive Island Coconut Shrimp Salad.

Island Coconut Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

1/2 of 18-ounce package of SeaPak Family Size Jumbo Coconut Shrimp

2 packets orange marmalade sauce (included in coconut shrimp package)

2/3 cup bottled ranch salad dressing

1 package (10 ounces) bagged mixed salad greens (or 1 head of lettuce, chopped)

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

4 tablespoons macadamia nuts or pecan halves (if desired), chopped

Directions

Prepare coconut shrimp according to package directions. In small bowl, whisk together the orange marmalade sauce and salad dressing.

Divide the salad greens, mango slices and diced peppers among 4 serving plates. Evenly top each plate with shrimp.

Pour the salad dressing mixture over each serving of the coconut shrimp salad.

Sprinkle chopped nuts over the salads and serve immediately.

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Stephen Hamilton, inc

5 surprising facts about dairy you should know


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(BPT) – Have you ever stopped to think about what a delicious cheeseburger, the dressing on your salad or your morning extra-foam latte have in common? They’re all undeniably dairy! From cow care to nutrient-packed punches, here are five facts you may not know about dairy:

1. Dairy farming is a family affair.

Every day, nearly 42,000 dairy farmers across the U.S. work hard to care for the cows that produce the milk that becomes the many dairy products everyone loves. The majority of all dairy farms — 97 percent — are family owned. Many dairy farms have been in the same family for generations, and each new generation of dairy farmers brings something new and innovative to the family farm.

2. Milk is “green” and that’s good!

Sustainability and cow comfort are priorities for today’s dairy farmers. In fact, producing a gallon of milk today takes 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than 60 years ago, according to a study by Capper et al in Journal of Dairy Science. Dairy farms reuse their water, recycling it an average of three to five times a day, and even cow manure doesn’t go to waste. Many farmers reuse manure to fertilize crops, and some farmers even capture the methane produced from manure to power their farms and the neighboring communities.

3. Dairy offers more nutritional benefits than just calcium.

Dairy’s reputation as a calcium powerhouse is well established, but did you know it offers additional nutritional and health benefits? For example, one cup of milk has the same amount of protein as 1 1/3 eggs. Milk also contains B vitamins – B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which can help give you energy. From cheese, you can also get phosphorus, and yogurt provides zinc, too. Following a low-fat diet? Good news — lower fat versions of favorite dairy foods contain less fat but all the same nutrients of whole milk and dairy products.

4. It’s all about caring for the cows.

It makes good business sense to take the best possible care of the animals that produce your livelihood, and dairy farmers are constantly improving how they care for their cows. Cow nutritionists help determine the perfect balance of feed ingredients in cows’ diets to ensure the health of the animals. Dairy farmers also use technology to monitor the health of their cows with sophisticated collars, bracelets or ear tags that track key behaviors like activity levels, body temperature and milk production for each individual cow.

5. Dairy brings joy to summertime dishes.

Whether it’s topping your burger with a slice of cheddar or enjoying fresh berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, dairy is the ingredient that makes a variety of summertime dishes so enjoyable. So next time you gather with friends and/or family, tap into a little nostalgia with this Blueberry Hand Pie recipe:

Blueberry Hand Pies

Ingredients:

2 9-inch, store-bought, ready-to-bake pie crusts

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk

Directions:

In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with flour. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Allow store-bought crust to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface and roll out the warmed pie crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into eight rectangles about 3-by-4 inches in size. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the blueberries into the center of four dough rectangles. Place the remaining dough rectangles over the top of each blueberry filling. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pie and transfer pies to the prepared baking sheet.

Pierce the tops of the pies with a paring knife a few times and brush with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Allow pies to cool completely before icing. Use a fork to stir together the confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Drizzle over cooled hand pies. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

For more ways to enjoy dairy this summer, and to learn more about America’s farm families and importers, visit UndeniablyDairy.org.

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Playful family on sunny beach

Hey guys. Is your good health a perception or reality?

(BPT) – When it comes to health, perception is not always reality. This is especially true when considering how men care for themselves when faced with a health condition. In fact, while most men would say they are more focused on their health than they have been in the past, physicians report a different truth. This difference is especially concerning when it comes to treating chronic conditions, because failure to follow treatment regimens may lead to bigger health problems in the future.

Missed appointments and opportunities

According to research from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which surveyed its member physicians, one in five doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to fill a prescription. In addition, one in three doctors said that up to half of their male patients did not take a prescription as directed. Four in ten reported that up to half of their male patients failed to follow up with a regular routine test when ordered for their condition.

In addition, nearly a quarter of surveyed doctors said up to half of their male patients failed to show up for planned follow-up visits.

These missed opportunities come at a time when chronic conditions among men continue to rise. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Survey, diagnoses of three common, yet potentially severe, conditions all have increased year over year. The data shows that cases of high blood pressure (4 percent increase), high cholesterol (5 percent) and diabetes (2 percent) have all seen notable increases.

“People may not take these conditions seriously because they don’t have any noticeable symptoms, and that’s a big mistake,” says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the AAFP. “High blood pressure and high cholesterol have been called ‘silent killers’ for a reason. If they aren’t controlled, they can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. In addition to these complications, uncontrolled diabetes also can cause blindness, nerve damage and loss of limbs.

“So it’s vital that men see their doctors, get preventive care and follow instructions for any chronic diseases they may have.”

Finding solutions for ongoing care

Fortunately, taking a more proactive approach to health care is easier than most men think. A visit to your family physician is the first step toward taking charge of your health and identifying any health issues. Your family physician will help you learn about any chronic conditions you might have and how to treat them. For health information that is easy to understand, visit familydoctor.org. You’ll find a men’s guide to preventive health care, and information about healthy diets and weight control. Follow the advice provided here, as well as your doctor’s recommendations, and you’ll turn your goal for good health from simple perception into reality.

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Mother teaches daughter yoga on beach

Tips for managing summer stress

(BPT) – Each summer we look forward to the sunny weather, schools closing and the vacations. However, managing your or your family’s play, travel and work schedules can be stressful.

According to United Health Foundation’s 2016 America’s Health Rankings, the average number of days per month adults unfavorably assess their mental health ranged from 2.4 days in South Dakota to as high as 4.7 days in Arkansas and West Virginia. The national average is 3.7 days.

Poor mental health days can affect every aspect of one’s day, from your drive to work to running errands before your child’s soccer practice. So what can be done about managing stress and preventing tough days ahead?

First, we must understand that stress is here to stay — a modest amount of stress, offset by periods of relative calm and security, is normal. But high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health, leading to headaches, back pain, fatigue, upset stomach, anxiety, depression and heart problems.

Recognizing stress

Stress is a physical and psychological response to a demand, threat or problem. It stimulates and increases your level of awareness, also known as the “fight or flight” response. The response occurs whether the stress is positive or negative. Positive stress provides the means to express talents and abilities. But continued exposure to negative stress may lower the body’s ability to cope, which may lead to prolonged health issues.

Your signs of stress may be different from someone else’s. Some people get angry. Others have trouble concentrating or making decisions, and still others will develop health problems. The good news is that stress can be managed, according to Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., National Director of Health Strategies at UnitedHealthcare.

O’Brien offers these five tips to help manage stress:

Take care of yourself Eat healthier, engage in moderate exercise and get enough sleep — all of which can improve your health.

Figure out the source Monitor your mental state throughout the day. Keep a list of the things that create stress. Then develop a plan for dealing with these common stressors.

Do things you enjoy Go to a movie, meet a friend for dinner or participate in an activity that provides relief. Give yourself a break and take time to care about yourself.

Learn relaxation techniques Deep breathing is helpful. Meditation as well as “mindfulness techniques” are becoming increasingly popular at home and in the workplace. You can practice mindfulness while sitting in a quiet place or walking. The key is to focus on your breathing or your steps. The technique may be simple, but achieving the desired result takes practice.

Welcome support Let close friends or relatives know you’re dealing with stress. They may be able to offer help or support that may make a difference.

Remember, stress is your body’s natural defense mechanism, but being under stress for too long can have a serious negative effect on your health. If you notice stress is becoming an issue for you, talk with your doctor.

For more health and wellness tips, visit UHC.com.

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People demonstrating virtual reality headsets

How One Company Used Virtual Reality to Educate Doctors about Adults with ADHD

(BPT) – Have you ever struggled to explain what you were feeling to your doctor or healthcare professional? If so, you may have wondered if there was a way to help your doctor see the world through your eyes. Virtual reality technology is one way companies are working to help bridge the gap between what patients feel and what they are able to express, offering healthcare professionals a fresh perspective on their patients experiences.

Shire recently brought an immersive virtual reality experience to put healthcare professionals into the shoes of a hypothetical adult with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While onsite at the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) 170th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California attendees had the opportunity to experience ”A Day in the Life” simulation of an adult with ADHD in three settings.

“Shire has been committed to helping patients with ADHD and the healthcare professionals who treat them for the last two decades,” said Mark Rus, Head, U.S. Neuroscience Franchise at Shire. “We saw this incredible opportunity to help better educate healthcare professionals about adults with ADHD through this immersive technology, and hope that those who participated walked away with a better perspective and greater understanding and empathy for patient needs.”

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5(R)), ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Some of the settings and daily realities the immersive virtual reality experience brings to life include:

*In the home, adults may often experience symptoms such as not seeming to listen when spoken to directly, forgetfulness in daily activities and losing things necessary for tasks and activities.

*After work, adults may have social activities and obligations. Adults may often experience symptoms such as difficulty sustaining attention in conversations, fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet, squirming in seat and interrupting or intruding on others.

*At work, adults may often experience symptoms such as failing to follow through on instructions and finish tasks, being easily distracted (including by unrelated thoughts) and exhibiting poor time management and organization.

These are not a complete list of ADHD symptoms. Having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have ADHD. Only a healthcare professional can accurately diagnose ADHD.

Shire’s immersive virtual reality experience provided a first-hand look at how ADHD symptoms may impact adults with ADHD across different settings during their day. The experience reached more than 300 healthcare professionals at the meeting.

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Hispanic mother playing with newborn baby in nursery

5 simple ways parents can make the world gentle for baby

(BPT) – The big day has finally arrived and your newborn is here. Your baby is as perfect as you imagined and you’re filled with a love you never knew existed. Even before she or he arrived, you started making more careful choices and looked for gentle alternatives with natural-based ingredients for your little bundle of joy.

One thing that needs to be considered when seeking out gentle options for babies is their skin — and that starts with the precious threads in babies’ clothing, according to pediatric dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine.

“As a pediatric dermatologist and mother of five, I know that babies’ skin can go through many changes throughout infancy, and the majority are perfectly normal,” Levine says. “There are simple ways parents can protect babies’ skin from irritants, such as pre-washing clothes before first wear and choosing gentle fabrics.”

Levine offers parents some tips on how to keep the world gentle for your little one:

1. Moisturize when needed.

Peeling skin around the wrists and ankles is a normal part of a baby’s development, and requires no treatment. However, if dry or sensitive skin persists after the first few weeks of life, special care may be needed. Keep baths short, use water that’s warm, but not hot, and a small amount of gentle cleanser. For babies with dry skin, moisturize twice daily using an ointment or a cream, preferably one with many ceramides.

2. Choose the gentle fabrics.

Infant skin is definitely more sensitive than adult skin, so the fabrics you put against your baby’s skin can affect her comfort and skin health. Choose light, comfortable clothes that are free of pleats or seams that can put unnecessary pressure on a baby’s skin. Fabrics should be soft and absorbent, such as cotton or cotton blends like cotton polyester or cotton spandex.

3. Wash clothing before using it for the first time.

“Nine out of 10 dermatologists recommend parents wash baby’s clothing before wearing it for the first time, according to a survey by Dreft laundry detergent and I agree,” Levine says. While 97 percent of parents surveyed by Dreft said they believe it’s important to pre-wash baby clothes, just 40 percent actually do so every time. New clothing can harbor dirt, excess dyes and processing chemicals, so it’s important to pre-wash clothes using a gentle, yet effective detergent like Dreft purtouch that is 65 percent plant-based and made from naturally derived ingredients. Wash your newborn’s clothing separate from the rest of the laundry.

4. Use products specifically made for babies.

When choosing a skin care product for your baby, such as sunscreen, look for one specifically designed for use on infants. These baby products have been tested and proven to be gentle and less irritating to a baby’s skin. For example, baby sunscreen, which parents should start using after a baby turns 6 months old, usually contains physical blocking elements like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, rather than the chemical blockers used in some adult sunscreens.

5. Do your best at diaper duty.

The diaper region requires extra attention since it’s prone to wetness and irritation. Change your baby’s diaper frequently, especially when it’s wet or soiled. A more absorbent diaper will help keep moisture away from baby’s skin longer. Always dry the diaper area well after cleaning or a bath. If your baby is prone to diaper rash, try a zinc-based diaper cream with every diaper change to help soothe and protect skin.

“All parents want to care for their baby in the best way,” Levine says. “Little things, like prewashing new baby clothing in a gentle baby detergent and moisturizing as needed, can help keep the world gentle for your little one and his or her skin.”

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When that nagging cough is actually something more

(BPT) – Working mom Betsy had a fulfilling career and a loving family. The only thing standing in the way of her ability to fully enjoy her life was a persistent cough that just wouldn’t stop. Eventually, instead of doing the things she enjoyed, like spending time with her twin boys or going to dinner with friends, her life became something else entirely. That nagging cough — over and over again — coupled with difficulty breathing and fatigue made her feel weaker and weaker.

Betsy had a history of spontaneous lung collapses and a cough that would come and go, but her symptoms gradually became worse and began to impact her life. After a visit to her doctor, Betsy was diagnosed with bronchitis and given remedies to soothe her coughing. When weeks passed and she saw no improvement to her health, she knew she had to find answers.

“I tried to read my boys books at night and it was a real struggle just to get through the book without coughing… Not knowing what was happening to me, nobody being able to give me any answers, it was really scary.”

As Betsy’s coughing and fatigue became progressively worse, her doctor ordered a CAT scan and a sputum culture. The results of these tests provided an answer for Betsy and her doctor — she had a chronic and progressive lung condition called nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM.

About NTM

NTM lung disease is an infection caused by bacteria that is inhaled through the nose and mouth. NTM bacteria can be found in a variety of environments, from tap water to soil in parks and gardens. In fact, one study across 25 states showed that NTM bacteria was found in nearly eight out of ten water samples. Everyone comes into contact with NTM bacteria during their daily lives, but not everyone is at risk of getting NTM. Most people do not become infected because their lungs are healthy enough to get rid of NTM bacteria.

However, people who have conditions such as bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are at greater risk of NTM infection. That’s because damage caused by lung conditions makes them more vulnerable to infection. People with NTM infection tend to be middle-aged and have existing respiratory conditions.

With signs and symptoms similar to those of other respiratory conditions, like cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, NTM is sometimes misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Diagnosis can be delayed because people assume their symptoms are associated with a lung condition they already know they have.

Prevalence of NTM

There are an estimated 86,000 cases of NTM lung infections in the United States — a number that continues to grow more than eight percent each year. In particular, NTM infections are growing among people over 65 years old, a population that’s expected to nearly double by 2030. Unfortunately, many people who have NTM infection may not even know they have it.

Talk to your Doctor about NTM

Because NTM is a chronic and progressive disease, it is important to make a definitive diagnosis as soon as possible. Delayed diagnosis can lead to delayed treatment, which may lead to a worsening of symptoms and existing respiratory conditions. As the condition gets worse over time, NTM can result in severe and permanent lung damage.

If you think you could have NTM, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Visit AboutNTM.com for information about NTM and talk to your doctor to see if getting tested for NTM might be right for you.

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