COPD, Pollen and Deaths

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are often warned by doctors to stay indoors when there are high pollution or ozone levels. This is because these things in the air make it harder to breathe for anyone. Breathing polluted air can actually send patients with COPD to the emergency room! But what about other things in the air? This is a time where trees are budding, flower begin to bloom and grass is cut more often. Can this affect patients with COPD just as much as pollution?

It's that time of year. If you have COPD, be careful of pollen levels.

A study published in the highly respected journal Lancet looked into this question.(1) They measured the affect of pollution and pollen on COPD patients by the number of deaths on days with high levels of pollution or pollen on those days before and on the day of the deaths. It has already been shown in other studies that days with higher pollution levels increase the number of deaths in COPD patients. (2) (3) These researchers wanted to see if the same held true for pollen.


They found a dose-response relationship between the amount of pollen in the air and COPD deaths. (1) This means that the higher the pollen level, the more COPD patients died. The researchers also mentioned that there was no confounding by pollution levels. This means that high pollution days and high pollen days did not occur at the same time. So,  the deaths were not due to high pollution levels on these high pollen days.

What does this mean for patients with COPD? Breathing in pollen reduces the forced expiratory volume or amount of air that can get in and out of the lungs. (4) This is because the lungs are inflamed due to breathing in pollen. When COPD patients have this much trouble breathing, they should go to the hospital immediatly for treatment to reduce the inflammation.  To prevent this, patients with COPD should stay indoors and keep their windows closed on days with high pollen levels. They can listen to the news or go on weather websites for their area to find out if each day is considered a high pollen level day.


Works Cited

1. Relation between airborne pollen concentrations and daily cardiovascular and respiratory disease mortality. Brunekreef, B, et al. 9214, 2000, Lancet, Vol. 355, pp. 1517-18.

2. Mortality and air pollution: associations persest with continued advances in research methodology. Pope, CA. 1999, Environ Health Perspect, Vol. 107, pp. 613-14.

3. Particulate air pollution and acute health effects. Seaton, A, et al. 1995, Lancet, Vol. 345, pp. 176-78.

4. Eosinophilia and positive skin tests predict cardiovascular mortality in a genaral population sample followed for 30 years. Hospers, JJ, et al. 1999, Am J Epidemiol, Vol. 150, pp. 482-91.


Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.


Posted in Blog Posts Tagged with: , ,

A First Time for Everything

IMG_20130405_094608_792A couple months ago, you may remember a post where we found a dead mouse in a CPAP machine. Our new experience this month is an oxygen concentrator that has been shot. That’s right, our repair technician found that a concentrator had a bullet hole. Upon opening the machine, he found what damage had been done by the bullet and found the bullet fragments in the machine.

Apparently someone was frustrated with the machine (or at least that’s what we hope happened) and decided to shoot it. Although this might seem a bit funny, it does have safety concerns. A home health care company should follow-up an event like this to inquire about the safety of the home this machine came from. Not only are you concerned about those within the home, but the safety of company employees who visit the home. When all else fails, a home care company may notify the authorities as to the incident.

Posted in Sleep Apnea Tagged with: , , , ,

COPD Resources

The Internet can be a great source of information and find out where to go for help. However, you want to make sure you are getting true information. Have you seen the commercial where the woman says, “It has to be true because I found it on the Internet.” Ha! You would hope that someone would not want to mislead people with a disease. But not all claims are backed up by research. Even if a remedy helped one person with COPD, it does not mean that it will work for everyone. That is why we have researchers. It is their job to find out what is true for most people and what is just an old wives tale.

When you have COPD, you might be interested in getting more information about your disease, talking to others with the disease, or see what research is being done. I have compiled a list of reliable organizations that are educating and aiding the research effort.

The American Lung Association.

This association is well known and respected throughout the country. You can find information about the various diseases under the COPD umbrella. They also provide topics on how to live with COPD and chat rooms to talk with others with the same disease. The American Lung Association also advocates for patients with COPD. This means they have people who try to get our lawmakers to make the decisions that would help patients with COPD or add to the research effort.

The National Emphysema Foundation.

Although this foundation’s name includes the word, “emphysema,” their website also discusses other diseases in the COPD realm. Along with education, the National Emphysema Foundation is involved in raising money to provide grants for COPD scientific research.

The National Lung Health Education Program.

This program educates the public, as well as health care professionals, about COPD and advocates for early diagnosis.

The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

This association promotes research and education. You can also find a respiratory rehabilitation center in our area using their online directory.

The resources above only scratch the surface of all the agencies, foundations and associations out there that want to help people with COPD. This last resource, below, gives you even more links to interesting sites that are right in your area.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

This is a governmental institute within the National Institutes of Health, a federal program. They have created the Breathe Better Network. You can find a Breathe Better Partner in your state to find out more information about your disease, how COPD research is being supported in your state, and advocacy for a safer environment for COPD patients.

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

Posted in Respiratory Disease

CPAP Maintenance

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where a person has problems breathing at night. Specifically, the airways are repeatedly blocked causing the person to stop breathing for an extended time. The body struggles to get the blocked airway open, which usually happens with a gasp, snore sound or jerking of the body. (1) This is hard on the body and can cause problems from sleepiness during the day, to high blood pressure and other health problems.

A common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP for short. The CPAP has a mask that covers the nose and/or mouth and forces air into the body. The air flow can be adjusted to just enough pressure to keep the airway open. (1,2) The CPAP is used just while sleeping.

Since air from the CPAP is forced into a person’s airway, it is important to keep the machine clean. There are filters that should be replaced regularly. If your machine uses disposable filters, they should be replaced every three months. If your machine uses reusable filters, they should be rinsed with warm water and patted dry every week; replace these reusable filters every six months. The CPAP tubing should be replaced every three months. The humidifier chamber in a CPAP is especially susceptible to growing germs because of the water it holds. Clean the chamber daily with equal parts water and white vinegar. This chamber should also be replaced every six months. These are general guidelines for CPAP maintenance. For specific guidelines, please refer to the manual the came with your machine.

It is important to also keep the area around your CPAP clean. When repairing CPAP’s in our office, we find everything from the machines completely clean after being used for ten years to being infested with roaches. One machine did not have a filter in place and we found this dead mouse inside.

A dead mouse was found inside this CPAP.

A dead mouse was found inside this CPAP.

Remember, if you use a CPAP, the machine is blowing air directly into your lungs. So, if you are unsure of the cleanliness of your machine, it might be a good idea to get it checked out. Below is a quick reference chart for maintaining your CPAP.

CPAP maintenance


Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

Works Cited

1. WebMD. Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2012.

2. WebMD. Sleep Apnea Treatments. [Online] 2012.

Posted in Sleep Apnea Tagged with: , ,

COPD: Eating for Energy

People with COPD burn 10 times the calories just breathing compared to a person without breathing problems. (1) This can zap your energy. Eating the right foods and the right portion sizes can help you have more energy. There are also power foods that contain a lot of nutrition in each bite.

Some people may find themselves getting tired while eating because they have trouble breathing while eating. The key is to eat small portions and eat often. Make sure those small portions are good for you and not junk.

Great COPD Breakfast with Fiber Cereal and FruitIf you get too tired later in the day to eat, make your breakfast really count! (1) Try eating a high fiber cereal with fruit and milk along with some whole wheat toast. If you like nutrient rich oatmeal, make it with milk so that it packs even more of a nutrient punch. Adding berries or other fruit sweetens the oatmeal naturally while providing more vitamins that are needed.

Remember when you were young and your parents told you to eat your meal before eating dessert? This goes for all empty calorie foods. Eat the foods with the most nutrients first before digging into the mashed potatoes or crackers. That way, if you get tired before completing your meal, the food you have eaten will give you energy.

Drink plenty of fluids. Not only does dehydration zap your energy, but the fluids help alleviate your COPD symptoms. Drinking fluids help keep the mucus in your airways thin so that you can clear it easier when you cough. (1) Caffeine increases breathing rate, which can put too much stress on the body of someone with COPD. (2) Caffeine can also interact with your medication, which may not let them work properly. (1) For these reasons, caffeine-free drinks are best.

Cookie Cutter Toad-in-the-Hole

Some other power foods are cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables. If your diet allows, add cheese to your dishes. This adds calcium that is good for your bones and protein for energy. You’ve heard of the “incredible edible egg.” Eggs can help you get the calories you need for energy while containing nutrients that increase brain function and muscle strength. (3) Whenever possible, eat fresh fruits and vegetables. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, you will get a well rounded array of nutrients. (4)

With careful planning of the foods you eat, you can boost your energy. The key is to make sure that what you eat counts and stay away from foods that don’t give you the nutrients you need. Eating a variety of the right types of foods and drinking plenty of fluids can help give you the energy you need. Ask your doctor if there are certain foods you should not eat because of your medications or medical condition. You can even ask to speak with a nutritionist to help you plan meals and snacks to boost your energy.

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

Works Cited

1. WebMD. COPD: Energy Boosting Foods. [Online] 2011.

2. Livestrong. The Effects of Caffeine on Breathing. [Online] 2012.

3. American Egg Board. The Incredible Edible Egg. [Online] 2012.

4. Best Whole Food Nutrition. Why Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables. [Online] 2013.



Posted in Respiratory Disease Tagged with: ,

COPD: Dangers in Your Home

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you are probably aware that smoking can make your condition worse and may have even been the cause of your disease. But did you know that there are other dangers in your home that can make your symptoms and disease worse? Carpets, air ducts, chemicals, and fireplaces are just a few of these in-home threats. (1) Some of these culprits are part of your home and everyday living.

Carpets and air ducts for heating and cooling systems may contain dust and dirt that make you feel worse. If your home has air ducts, have them cleaned regularly to avoid them blowing dust and dirt into your home. If you can, get rid of rugs and carpets, as they trap dust and dirt. If you cannot get rid of your carpets and rugs, have everyone leave their shoes at the door to avoid tracking dirt around the house. Also, have someone without COPD vacuum regularly. (1)COPD: Dangers in Your Home by Altra Service Professionals

We all want our homes to be clean. And to do so, we use cleaning products, which may also make COPD worse. Any cleaning product or other product that gives off fumes can make a person with COPD have more difficulty breathing. Look for “green” cleaners made from plants that are not irritating to humans, or “old-fashioned cleaning agents like soap and water, baking soda, and vinegar.” (1) Be aware of other items in your home that give off fumes, such as perfumes, scented soap and clothes that have recently been dry-cleaned.

Many people who have COPD use oxygen therapy. If you are using a nasal canula with your oxygen therapy, make sure you clean it at least once or twice a week. (2) There are prongs as part of the canula; replace these every two to four weeks. If you have a cold or flu, replace the prongs as soon as your symptoms disappear.

A few other areas in your home can cause problems, as well. Fire places or wood stoves produce a lot of dust. Showers or basements that are left damp can cause bacteria and mold to grow. (1) Pets bring in dirt and produce dander that can affect people with COPD.

Be aware of what triggers worse symptoms in you. Most indoor threats to people with COPD can be minimized with regular cleaning. Just be careful with what you use to clean your home.

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

 ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

Works Cited

1. Freeman, D. Household Hazards for People with COPD. [Online] 2009.

2. Healthwise. How to use oxygen therapy. [Online] 2010.




Posted in Respiratory Disease Tagged with: , ,

Rate Us With User Reviews

Rate us with user reviews

Whenever I shop online, I always look at the site or product reviews. They really help me in my decision to purchase a particular product or use a specific site. Sure – there’s always a couple of suspect reviews listed, but for the most part, reviews make or break a purchase for me.

Over the past few months, we have had quite a few customers ask for a way to leave a review on our website. Well, we always appreciate feedback, and as a result, have implemented a peer review system for both our product site and repair site. It’s quick and easy to submit a review – no account needed.

Service & Repair or Company Reviews – Click here to submit a review for repair services performed or a general review about ASP.

Product Specific Reviews – Click here to submit a review for a particular item purchased through ASP. You will need to visit the specific product page.

It is our goal to provide you with the best experience possible. To us, that means providing quality services at competitive prices on a consistent basis. If you feel we did a great job, then please share your experience on our site for others to see. Your feedback will help others make a more confident decision in choosing Altra Service Professionals. If we have not meet your expectations, please send us an email so we can promptly take care of your issue(s). If you are still not satisfied, then feel free to write a review of your experience.

Thank you for trusting Altra Service Professionals in the past and we look forward to serving your future needs.

Best Regards,



Posted in Company News Tagged with: , , ,

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are countless things that make up our daily lives. A few weeks ago, my Monday consisted of the following: go to work, mow the lawn, fix the refrigerator,  help with homework, volunteer for Cub Scouts; That’s a pretty full day.  It seems that each new day is busier than the last. It’s not often that we are able to take the time and reflect on our lives and be thankful for the things we have been blessed with. For me, Thanksgiving is that time.

I am thankful for lot’s of things. I have the best family – a wonderful & supportive wife and two beautiful boys. I own a house that is not upside down on its mortgage. I have reliable transportation. I own a business and enjoy the work I do and people I meet. I couldn’t ask for a better business partner.  I have my health. There are way too many things to list. The point is that I truly feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world and I appreciate all that I have – good and bad.

Thank you for being loyal customers. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving filled with love from your family and friends.


Posted in Company News

It’s Vaccination Time!

It’s that time of year again to get your vaccine for the flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people six months and older should be vaccinated against the flu. This is especially important for people who are at risk of getting pneumonia when sick with the flu. This includes those with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema. (1) If you use oxygen therapy, you are in this risk group and it is important that you be vaccinated. If you are a caretaker of someone in this risk group, you should also be vaccinated to protect your loved ones.

If you are asking yourself why you need to be vaccinated when you received it last year, there is a very good reason. The flu virus changes, or mutates, every year. The manufacturers of the flu vaccine make new vaccines covering the most likely flu strains for that season. The CDC recommends that you obtain your vaccination as soon as it becomes available at your doctor’s office or public health department. This is because the beginning of the flu season varies from year to year. (1) It usually takes about two weeks after being vaccinated to reach maximum protection against the flu virus.

If you don’t have insurance and don’t have the money for the vaccine, call your health department to find out if they will be doing flu clinics in your town. Flu clinics are at designated times when the health department will vaccinate its residents for free or a small fee.  If you are over 65 years old, ask for the high dose vaccine made especially for you.

While you are getting your flu vaccine, ask if the pneumococcal vaccine is also suggested for you. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumonia. People who have lung diseases, smokers, or have a compromised immune system should be vaccinated. A person with a compromised immune system means the body cannot fight infection as well as in other people. These include people with HIV, kidney failure, damaged spleen, or no spleen or have received an organ transplant. (2)

Please visit the CDC website ( or talk to your doctor if you are worried about side effects of these vaccinations. Most likely side effects are minor and short lasting. Most people do not have any side effects from the vaccines. By being vaccinated you can keep yourself from getting these viruses, which protects others around you from becoming ill, as well.

Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Laurie has a Master’s degree in Public Health and has been Certified in Public Health.

ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.

Works Cited

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). What You Should Know for the 2012-2013 Influenza Season. [Online] 2012.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Pneumococcal Disease In-Short. [Online] 2012.






Posted in Uncategorized

Now Offering Product Reviews

I don’t know about you, but if there is a product review for an item I am interested in, I’m going to read it. They provide me with insight from customers who have already purchased an item through that website. I use both good and bad reviews to help in the decision making process of what to buy and where to buy it. This is not the only thing I consider, but it definitely helps me with the online purchasing process. A good amount of Altra Service Professionals customers are older. When I think of my parents using the internet, I know they are not as comfortable with the internet as I am. They are even more are hesitant to purchase anything over the internet. Product reviews helps break down some of the walls associated with buying something over the internet.

Help your fellow consumers by writing accurate (and hopefully positive) reviews on the items you have purchased from Altra Service Professionals. Whether its a refurbished oxygen concentrator or an oxygen cannua, we want you to share your experience with others. You can write about the items quality, service received, shipping experience, etc. It can be as long or as short as you like.

Product reviews are only helpful when people like you complete them. You are a valued customer and we need your feedback. We understand your time is valuable, so we chose an interface that is simple to use and quick to complete. Simply navigate to the product page and click on the “write a review” link. All reviews will be displayed at the bottom of each product page.

Thank you in advance for helping us make our website more helpful for everyone.
Best Regards,

Posted in Company News