Autumn Respiratory News 2016

Autumn Respiratory News 2016Autumn Respiratory News 2016 by Susie
Bringing you the very latest news on all things respiratory

Welcome back to our latest issue of the Austin Air Newsletter.

We've got lots to talk about this month, including a story on how seasonal allergies could be keeping your brain young, a new study explains why Amish children are protected from asthma more than other farm children. We've got news on how a daily tipple can affect your respiratory health and the latest on what experts are calling a game changer in asthma treatment, a 'fix all' pill.

We hope you enjoy reading!

A daily tipple may be linked to asthma
Nitric oxide is a gas that we all produce every time we breathe, it helps to fight infection and kill off bacteria. Now researchers from the Loyola University of Chicago have found that people who drink just a little more alcohol than they should, have low levels of Nitric Oxide and therefore may be more vulnerable to certain respiratory disease.

According to their findings, women who drink more than one glass a day and men who drink more than two, have lower levels of Nitric Oxide in comparison to people who don't drink at all. And the more you drink, the lower the levels get. In conclusion the team from Chicago believes that even relatively small amounts of alcohol can disrupt the healthy balance in the lungs.

So, next time you reach for the cork screw you might want to think again. Even one glass could be affecting your health more than you imagine.

Were you the first born? It could be affecting your health
There have been lots of studies to show how the order we are born into our families can affect us in throughout life. Academic achievement, our choice of husband or wife, if we are a team player or not and how emotionally well-adjusted we are can all be linked back to whether we are the oldest, middle or baby of the family. And now scientists from Sweden believe it could also be linked to our respiratory health too.

They carried out a study looking at data from over 300,000 children and found that first born children were at increased risk of developing asthma in comparison to their younger siblings.

At this stage scientists have found the link but are continuing to search for an explanation. It could be that younger children are exposed to different bacteria and viruses, it may be that the uterine environment during pregnancy is different second time round. Or it could simply be that parents are more relaxed second time round and are less likely to seek a diagnosis.

A game changing asthma pill
A ground breaking discovery comes this month from London, as scientists believe they may have developed a new pill that will change the way asthma is treated in the future.

Tests of the new pill, described as 'a game-changer for future treatment of asthma', show it can improve lung function, reduce inflammation and repair the lining of airways for people with severe asthma.

Currently most treatments use a combination of inhalers to widen the airways and steroids to reduce inflammation but this latest treatment can do both. And it's a simple pill that is taken twice a day.

Could this be the end of the inhaler?

Seasonal allergies could be keeping your brain young
For many of us, seasonal allergies can mean a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. But according to scientists from Saltsburg, that's not all that is happening to us. The team found that allergies could be affecting our brain too.

They found that an allergic reaction is linked to an increase in neurogenesis, the growth and development of nervous tissue. This is known to decrease with age but according to their findings allergies slow down this process. Could it be that allergies are keeping our brains young?

Amish children protected against asthma
There have been many studies to show how the environment we live in can help us to develop a healthy immune system and protect us from certain diseases. Children growing up on farms are often healthier than city kids, as they are exposed to many different bacteria, which can reduce the risk of developing diseases such as asthma and allergies.

This latest research published in the New England Journal of Medicine takes this theory one stage further. The team looked at specific farming communities, in this case the Amish of Indiana and the Hutterites of South Dakota to try to understand why one community was better protected from certain diseases.

Children from Hutterite communities have a much higher chance of suffering from asthma compared to Amish children. Around 5% of Amish children have asthma, in comparison to 21% of Hutterite children.

So how could this happen? Both groups have a very similar genetic history which traces back to Central Europe. The two communities practice many of the same customs, they don't allow TV, their diet is similar, they have large families, all children are vaccinated and breastfed, they drink raw milk and don't allow indoor pets.

But there are also fundamental differences between the two communities. Although both rely on agriculture, the way in which they farm is very different. Amish families still use traditional farming methods, no machinery is used, only horses. And their farms are single family dairy farms. In comparison, Hutterites live and work on large communal farms and they do use modern machinery. As a result Hutterite children are not exposed to farm animals in the way Amish children are.

For the purposes of the study, blood samples were taken from both communities. The team found that children from Amish families had higher levels of blood cells known to fight infection and much lower levels of the blood cells known to cause inflammation.

The next stage of the study involved looking at dust samples from both homes. The dust from Amish homes was found to have more microbes in comparison to the dust in Hutterite houses. Both homes were clean and tidy, but Amish homes tend to be close to the barns where animals are kept and where the children spend time, often barefoot, which could account for the different types of house dust.

Now we can't all live with cows in our backyard but if scientists can identify exactly which bacteria are protecting the Amish children we could be one step closer to protecting all children from diseases such as asthma.

More seasonal allergies on the way
For many of us it may feel like we have only just got through the onslaught of spring allergies. So its bad news that ragweed season is upon us already.

Ragweed, from the daisy family, has tiny yellow flowers that produce huge amounts of pollen. If you have seasonal allergies there's a strong chance you are allergic to ragweed too, as it affects around 75% of people with seasonal allergies.

Scientists believe that as climate change brings warmer temperatures, frosts occur later which only helps to keep the ragweed strong and thriving, with the season starting earlier and finishing later.

If you're feeling the effects of fall allergies don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist or allergist about the right treatment for you.

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