US COPD Coalition

RESOURCES

Nov
4

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing

The following is re-printed from the National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus website:

Where are germs found?

Germs are a part of everyday life. Some of them are helpful, but others are harmful and cause disease. They can be found everywhere – in our air, soil, and water. They are on our skin and in our bodies. Germs are also on the surfaces and objects that we touch.

Sometimes those germs can spread to you and make you sick. For example, there could be germs on a tv remote. You could get infected with the germs if you touch the remote and then rub your eyes or nose or eat with your hands.

Germs are a part of everyday life. Some of them are helpful, but others are harmful and cause disease. They can be found everywhere – in our air, soil, and water. They are on our skin and in our bodies. Germs are also on the surfaces and objects that we touch.

Sometimes those germs can spread to you and make you sick. For example, there could be germs on a tv remote. You could get infected with the germs if you touch the remote and then rub your eyes or nose or eat with your hands.

How can I avoid getting germs from surfaces and objects?

To avoid becoming infected by germs from surfaces and objects, it is important to wash your hands often. But you can’t wash your hands every time you touch something. So it’s also important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.

What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Some people think that disinfecting is same thing as cleaning or sanitizing. But they are actually different:

  • Cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you will likely use soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. This may not necessarily kill the germs. But since you removed some of them, there are fewer germs that could spread infection to you.
  • Disinfecting uses chemicals (disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some common disinfectants are bleach and alcohol solutions. You usually need to leave the disinfectant on the surfaces and objects for a certain period of time to kill the germs. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs.
  • Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a workplace, school, etc. For example, there are sanitizing procedures for restaurants and other facilities that prepare food. What you do to sanitize will vary, depending on your needs. You might be mopping a floor using a mop, a chemical, and water. You might use a dishwasher to sanitize the dishes. Or you could be using an antibacterial wipe on a tv remote.

If you both clean and disinfect a surface or object, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. There are products that clean and disinfect at the same time.

Which surfaces and objects do I need to clean and disinfect?

To prevent the spread of infection, you should regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often. For example, in your house, this would include countertops, doorknobs, faucet and toilet handles, light switches, remotes, and toys.

How can I safely clean and disinfect?

It’s important to be safe when using cleaning and disinfecting products:

  • Store them in the containers they came in. Always follow the instructions and pay attention to the warnings on the label.
  • Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels say that it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can cause serious injury or even death.
  • Check the label to see whether you need to use gloves to protect your hands and/or eye protection when using the products
  • If you swallow, inhale, or get them on your skin, follow the directions on the label or get medical help
  • Store them out of the reach of children

Click here for more information and resources.

Oct
13

CMS Releases Updated Guide to Home Oxygen and Other Durable Medical Equipment Coverage

The Centers for Medicare & Medcaid Services (CMS) has released an updated durable medical equipment (DME) guide.

This official government booklet, Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment & Other Devices, explains:
■ What durable medical equipment is
■ Which durable medical equipment, prosthetic, and orthotic items are covered by Original Medicare
■ Where to get help with your questions

DME includes items like:
■ Home oxygen equipment
■ Hospital beds
■ Walkers
■ Wheelchairs

This booklet explains Original Medicare coverage of DME and what you might need to pay. The booklet also explains coverage for prosthetic devices (like ostomy supplies, urinary catheters, enteral nutrition, and certain eyeglasses and contact lenses), leg, arm, neck, and back braces (“orthotics”), and artificial legs, arms, and eyes. It’s important to know what Medicare covers and what you may need to pay.

If you have questions about the cost of DME or coverage after reading this booklet, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Oct
8

Cloth face coverings and distancing can pose communication challenges

The following article is reprinted from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

by Debara L. Tucci, MD, MS, MBA

Communication is an important and complex transaction that depends on visual and, often, auditory (hearing) cues. Factors that influence how well our spoken language is received include our eye contact and body language, whether we stand or sit while speaking, the tone of our voices and our facial expressions, and environmental lighting and background noise.

Individuals with hearing problems (and even those with normal hearing) may also pay close attention to a speaker’s mouth—known as lip-reading or speech-reading—to follow conversational speech. In the U.S., approximately 15 percent of adults over age 18 report trouble hearing. Hearing loss develops for many reasons, including exposure over time to loud noise. Some people are born with hearing problems, and many develop hearing loss as they grow older. Regardless of the cause, hearing loss is disabling for millions of people, including half of people in the U.S. ages 75 and older.

For most of this spring and now into the summer, cloth face coverings (face masks) and physical distancing have become the new norm in many places. Public health guidelines recommending these safeguards against the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t likely to change anytime soon. These necessary precautions can be exhausting—especially for individuals with hearing loss who may depend on lip-reading to communicate.

Cloth face coverings obscure facial features, disrupting speech perception and the emotion conveyed by the speaker. They also filter speech, making sounds less clear. When it is harder to understand speech—whether because of cloth face coverings, distance, or other factors—research suggests that we have fewer cognitive resources to process information deeply. As a result, communication suffers, and feelings of stress and isolation may increase.

Speech, language, and hearing capabilities are highly individualized. These difficult times offer all of us the opportunity to be mindful about communication. It will require extra effort. I encourage everyone to meet these challenges with patience, kindness, and a commitment to problem-solving. Speak more clearly and perhaps louder than you normally would (without shouting). If a clear face covering is available, consider using it in place of the cloth face covering you currently use, so that your mouth is visible.

Ask the person you’re speaking with if they understand what you’re saying. Another option is to ask them to repeat back what you’ve said. You can also offer to use another method (smartphone, paper and pen, whiteboard) to get your message across. And, when possible, avoid loud background noise when interacting. This can both improve comprehension in the moment and protect your hearing for the future.

View and download the infographic 8 Tips for Improving Communication when Wearing a Face Mask.

Debara L. Tucci, MD, MS, MBA
Debara L. Tucci, MD, MS, MBA

Dr. Debara L. Tucci is the director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Oct
8

Staying Connected to Fight Loneliness

The following article is reprinted from the National Institutes for Health’s News in Health newsletter.

Positive relationships with friends and family help us thrive. Without social connections, it’s easy to feel lonely or isolated.

Many of us have been spending more time alone in our homes lately. While anyone can feel lonely, certain factors increase your risk. Major life changes or losses can increase feelings of loneliness.

Older adults are at greater risk because they’re more likely to live alone. Mobility issues can make it harder to leave the house. And sensory issues like vision and hearing loss can contribute to feeling isolated.

No matter what your age, it’s important for your health to stay socially connected. Loneliness can take a toll. It’s linked to higher rates of depression and heart disease, and can weaken your immune system. Here are some strategies to help stay connected if you’re feeling lonely.

Get your heart going. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and boost your mood. Whether it’s sweating to a workout video or taking a walk around your neighborhood, exercise can help.

You might also consider getting a pet. Animals can be a source of comfort and companionship.

Many people are using technology to connect with friends and family virtually. Take time to reach out to others by phone or online. A call or video chat can remind you that you’re not alone.

Providing social support or helping others in need can give meaning to our lives and help combat feelings of isolation or disconnection. Learn more.

Sep
16

Flu Shots – What you need to know

The following information about influenza vaccines is provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in your body about two weeks after you get it. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others?

For the 2020-2021 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status, including inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine (LAIV4) with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.

There are many vaccine options to choose from, but the most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. For more information, visit Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.

Misconceptions about Flu Vaccines

Can a flu vaccine give you flu?

No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus.  The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness.

Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?

No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.

Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?

Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older with rare exception. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu. Additionally, flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick.

Sep
8

Stay Safe Over the Holidays

With the holiday season approaching, many people will be traveling or attending gatherings with friends and family. Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you must travel, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has tips on ways to reduce your risk:

Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Find out what to consider before, during, and after travel on the CDC’s Travel during the COVID-19 pandemic web page. If you travel, take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 during your trip. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, and wash your hands. 

Attending an Event or Gathering

If you’re attending an event or gathering, prepare before you go by checking with the organizer or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Use social distancing and limit physical contact, wear masks, and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces. 

Hosting Gatherings or Cook-outs

Help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when hosting gatherings or cook-outs. Remind guests to stay home if they’re sick, host gatherings outdoors if possible, arrange chairs to allow for social distancing, and don’t shake hands, give hugs, or do elbow bumps. 

Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19 when visiting parks and recreational facilities. Visit areas that are close to your home, avoid crowded parks or campgrounds, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.

Aug
28

How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.

  • Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Masks should be worn by people two years and older
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance
  • Do NOT wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators

Click here to see the CDC’s full recommendations on selecting, wearing, and cleaning masks.

Aug
24

Improve health and well-being for all with Healthy People 2030

Since 1980, the Healthy People initiative has set goals and measurable objectives to improve health and well-being in the United States. The initiative’s fifth edition, Healthy People 2030, builds on knowledge gained over the past 4 decades to address current and emerging public health priorities and challenges.

An interdisciplinary team of subject matter experts developed national health objectives and targets for the next 10 years. These objectives focus on the most high-impact public health issues, and reflect an increased focus on the social determinants of health — how the conditions where people live, work, and play affect their health and well-being.

By using Healthy People 2030 in your work, you can help improve health nationwide! Objectives are organized into intuitive topics so you can easily find data that’s relevant to your work. And Healthy People 2030 provides evidence-based resources and tools you can use to set strategies for reaching Healthy People targets in your community, state, or organization. Start exploring Healthy People 2030 today!

Aug
3

Chronic Disease in Uncertain Times – Be Prepared and Plan Ahead

The following is excerpted from “NIH News in Health”, a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health.

Coping with emergencies is challenging in the best of situations. During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are just trying to get by each day. For people with chronic (long-term) health conditions—like diabetes and chronic kidney disease—the challenges can be even greater. But with planning, you can prepare what you’ll need to make things more manageable.

“Thankfully, people with chronic medical conditions have tools to help maintain their health, even during difficult times,” says Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Managing these conditions well can help lower your risk for complications and other diseases.

Preparing for the unexpected will help you manage a chronic health condition during a crisis. Consider packing a specialized “go-kit” for emergencies. A “go-kit” should contain:

  • At least one week’s worth of medical supplies and equipment.  
  • Contact information for health care providers and emergency contacts.
  • A medication list with doses and dosing schedules.
  • A list of your allergies.
  • Information about any medical devices you use.
  • At least a three-day supply of any foods needed to manage your condition.
  • Copies of your insurance card and photo ID.
  • Copies of recent lab work you might need.

Maintaining your health doesn’t erase the risk for getting other diseases. But each healthy day is a day closer to better treatments for diseases. NIH is making a coordinated effort to help advance research on preventing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19.

Contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns about how to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.

Click here to read the full article from the August 2020 issue of NIH News in Health.

Jul
1

“COPD and the Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation”

The US COPD Coalition presented part two of our free webinar series on July 1, 2020 and the recording of the webinar is now available for viewing. The webinar, COPD and the Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation, focused on helping COPD patients understand COPD and how stay healthy as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our guest speaker was Brian Tiep, MD. Dr. Tiep, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on chronic lung disease, discussed COPD and related conditions and the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation practiced on a daily basis – which he stresses is particularly important at this time of COVID-19.

View the webinar featuring Dr. Tiep here: COPD and the Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation