Natural Remedy for Hay Fever Cough

Hay fever may make symptoms of asthma, such as coughing and wheezing, feel worse. In fact, people with respiratory symptoms may experience continuous coughing as a result of their hay fever. This is likely to be due to the type of allergens affecting them. However, if a cough becomes unusually persistent, it is always best to report it to a doctor. But for those with asthma already taking medication, finding a natural remedy for hay fever induced coughing is of interest.

Natural Remedy for Hay Fever Induced Coughing

Coughing is the body’s natural way of trying to clear the lungs of fluid or mucus. Mucus production increases as a result of respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. However, mucus also increases when a person has an allergic reaction. In the case of hay fever, this will be to a type of pollen. It’s this allergic reaction that can cause persistent coughing, as the body tries to shift mucus, or phlegm, from the lungs.

Phlegm is produced by the respiratory system. When there is a large amount of phlegm, it can clog the airways. When phlegm is present in large amounts, the body naturally coughs to expel it. This resulting cough from clogging of the airways is particularly distressing in people with asthma.

Antihistamines and decongestants are traditionally taken to help relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever. However, neither will get rid of phlegm on the chest. Furthermore, both are drugs. Additionally, an expectorant will help to make mucus thinner so it is easier to cough up, but that too is made from a type of drug.

People with asthma know how important it is to ensure that any additional medication they take is safe to use with their prescribed asthma treatment. It is helpful, therefore, to find a drug-free cough treatment that will help with mucus clearance. A drug-free cough treatment, by its nature, will have no drug interactions.

How to Clear Mucus

A natural remedy for hay fever cough is to use a mucus clearance device. The Shaker offers chesty cough relief by shaking loose the phlegm on the chest.

The weighted ball inside the Shaker rises as the user breathes out through the device. It then falls under its own weight. However, it does this so quickly that it feels like a vibration. It’s this vibrating action that mobilises lung secretions, breaking them down and making them thinner and less sticky. This makes it easier for the user to then expel the phlegm. A productive cough will result after using the Shaker; sometimes immediately and sometimes it may be an hour later. But the productive cough that the Shaker induces will help the user to eliminate the mucus. Ultimately, this brings much relief from chest congestion.

Shaker devices are ideal for ‘shaking’ loose mucus and catarrh that is associated with:

  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Cystic Fibrosis

Shaker devices are also suitable for children to use, under parental guidance, as they are easy-to-use and effective. Please always speak to a medical professional first about medical issues or concerns and also read the precautions before using.

How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

If you are finding breathing difficult because you have a lung condition, the European Lung Foundation believes exercise is helpful. In fact, you can discover how exercise helps to keep your lungs healthy in one of our previous blogs, How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy With Exercise. Additionally, by eating a healthy diet you can also help to keep your lungs healthy. If you find this topic to be of interest, then you may like to read another one of our blogs, Foods for Keeping your Lungs Healthy.

Acclimatisation to High Altitude – POWERbreathe IMT is Beneficial

There is a new Review Article in Frontiers in Physiology (January 2019) that looks into using respiratory/inspiratory muscle training for acclimatisation to altitude.

Respiratory muscle training

Respiratory muscle training, or RMT, is a programme of exercises that aim to improve the function of the respiratory muscles. Otherwise known as the ‘breathing pump’ muscles, the expiratory muscles and the inspiratory muscles make up the respiratory muscles. It’s the inspiratory muscles that we use when we breathe in. The main inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm, but to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles also help with inhalation. To help improve the strength and stamina of these inspiratory muscles, respiratory muscle training will include Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT).

Inspiratory Muscle Training

Inspiratory muscle training, such as with POWERbreathe, uses resistance to provide the training effect. When breathing in against the resistance, the breathing muscles have to work harder. As a result, they get stronger. Consequently, breathing stamina improves resulting in a reduction in breathing fatigue. There is numerous research validating this form of breathing training and, as a result, it is the most commonly used.

The review

For the review, researchers perform a comprehensive search, analysing seven appropriate studies. Three of these studies refer to using respiratory muscle endurance training (RME with isocapnic hyperpnea). However, the remaining four studies use respiratory muscle strength training (RMS with POWERbreathe IMT).

Acclimatisation to altitude

Studies suggest that respiratory muscle training with IMT is a useful preparatory method for enhancing respiratory muscle efficiency 4-6 weeks before being exposed to hypoxia/altitude.

It is evident that breathing during exercise in hypoxia is associated with increased energy costs (20–30%) when compared to normoxia. Therefore, it is more likely to cause respiratory muscle fatigue. However, inspiratory muscle training will help to combat this. This is because IMT trains the inspiratory muscles to become stronger, increasing stamina. Consequently, breathing muscle fatigue reduces.

It, therefore, seems apparent that breathing muscle training has the potential to minimise at least some of the limiting respiratory factors that occur during training and competition in hypoxia/at altitude.

Benefits of acclimatisation to altitude using IMT

The Review suggests that both elite athletes and non-elite individuals may benefit from RMT, including:

  1. A delay in the onset of premature fatigue.
  2. A delay in respiratory muscle metaboreflex onset/activation.
  3. An improvement in clearance and tolerance to anaerobic metabolite products.
  4. A decrease in the perception of dyspnea (‘air hunger’).
  5. An increase in oxygen saturation values.
  6. A more favourable blood redistribution to the locomotor muscles.

Finally, evidence from this review finds that respiratory muscle training is an effective stimulus for improving the strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles. In fact, it’s these adaptive responses that contribute to the improvement of ventilatory function and efficiency. In translation, this means that respiratory muscle training is very likely to improve exercise performance in normoxia and particularly in hypoxia/altitude.

Lower Blood Pressure with POWERbreathe IMT

The University of Colorado Boulder is using the POWERbreathe K-Series in their independent research. They are investigating the effects of just 30 breaths of inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST). Specifically, they are looking to see if it could lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk. They are also investigating whether it could help you think more clearly and boost sports performance.

Lower blood pressure

One of the key findings of the research so far is that 30 breaths of IMST (about five minutes) will lower blood pressure. Crucially, with about half the tests completed, researchers report significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function. In fact, their findings show that about 5-minutes of IMST lowers blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise and more than some medications.

Other preliminary findings

The research findings also suggest that just 5-minutes of IMST may also boost cognitive function. Furthermore, their findings show that it may also improve fitness and increase sports performance. In fact, these improvements are already proven in previous research studies. However, this study reiterates such findings.

With the help of the university’s new National Institute on Ageing grant, researchers are launching a clinical trial.

The research

Research subjects will either be a part of a sham group (using low/no IMST) or the IMST group. The IMST group will perform 30 breaths of inspiratory muscle strength training (taking approximately 5-minutes). IMST is strength training for the muscles you use to inhale. Both groups will be performing their version of IMST over a period of 6 weeks. Researchers are hoping that by doing this for 5 minutes a day in the comfort of their own home, people will get health benefits they otherwise might not get.

The tests

Researchers will be performing tests to evaluate:

  • Vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels are
  • Cerebral vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels in the brain are
  • Cognitive function
  • Physical performance – VO2 max testing assesses this
  • Motor function

Results so far are showing that the IMST group, compared to sham subjects, are lowering their blood pressure and improving blood vessel health. Also, the IMST group is performing better on certain cognitive and memory tests. In addition, the IMST group are able to keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise. Consequently, subjects are also showing an increase in exercise tolerance time too.

Positive outcomes

With all this evidence, researchers hope that by using IMST, people may be able to get their blood pressure under control, decrease their risk of chronic conditions and live healthier lives.

Pilates Plus IMT Improves Lung Function

Researchers from Brazil are looking at the effects of combining Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) with Pilates on lung function in elderly women. The reason for this is because ageing affects the respiratory system. In fact, it can change the composition of the lung’s connective tissue.

Ageing and the lungs

Ageing will ultimately affect bones and muscles. Moreover, natural ageing also affects the bones and muscles of the chest. Consequently, it may affect the shape of the ribcage. As a result, the ribcage may no longer expand or contract as well as it once did, during breathing. Additionally, the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm, becomes weaker too. This will affect how much air a person is able to breathe in and out.

Furthermore, ageing affects lung tissue and the airways may lose their ability to stay open. Additionally, the air sacs begin to lose their shape. Consequently, air may become trapped in the lungs. This affects how well you’re able to breathe.

Why inspiratory muscle training?

Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is a form of resistance training that exercises the inspiratory muscles. The main inspiratory muscles are the diaphragm and intercostals. It’s these muscles that are responsible for drawing air into the lungs. Furthermore, it’s these muscles that will be affected by ageing. Therefore, exercising these muscles with IMT will limit the effects of ageing. IMT will help them to become stronger and less prone to fatigue.

The IMT device that participants use in this trial is the POWERbreathe K5.

Participants breathe in through the K5 for 30 breaths. They perform this twice, with a one-minute interval between each set. After two weeks’ training, they must increase the training resistance by 10%. Researchers then assess an individual’s results following Pilates exercise.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise programme, developed in the 20th Century by Joseph Pilates. The exercises focus on improving core strength and muscular imbalance. Furthermore, Pilates improves flexibility, overall muscle strength and is low-impact, making it ideal for the age group in this study.

As we age, we become less active and more sedentary. Consequently, sitting for long periods limits movement and affects the body. In fact, age affects the entire musculoskeletal system: joints, muscles and bones. As a result, posture is affected and we also start to lose muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. Pilates can help to minimise these age-related changes.

For this study, participants use the Cadillac, Combo Chair and Reformer devices for the Pilates method. The researchers recommend nine exercises per session. Participants perform up to three sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise. They do this for a maximum of 45-minutes.

Study results

To establish if IMT positively effects breathing muscle strength, each participant’s maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) is measured. MIP is an index of diaphragm strength and an independent predictor of all-cause mortality (longevity). Study findings show that MIP significantly evolved in the elderly. Additionally, the study highlights:

“the use of the POWERbreathe K5 device, which further favoured the gain in this variable.”

Findings also show:

“that all the variables were significantly better in the intervention groups than in the Control Group, thus strengthening the importance of the association between IMT and Pilates.”

In conclusion

“In conclusion, physiotherapy is an excellent ally in the prevention, promotion, and maintenance of health, quality of life and functional capacity in the gerontological population. The use of the Pilates Studio method, associated with technological equipment that allows more detailed analysis and treatment of pulmonary conditions, strength, function and mobility, was shown to be beneficial for this type of application.”

The influence of inspiratory muscle training combined with the Pilates method on lung function in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial >

Revolutionise your Sports Performance with Breathing Training

Your breathing can often be a limiting factor as you exercise, reducing your sports performance. It can let you down, preventing you from performing at your best as you stop to ‘catch your breath’. Consequently, breathing muscle training is a discipline elite coaches include to improve athletes’ breathing muscle strength and stamina. In fact, by performing breathing muscle training, an athlete’s breathing muscles will fatigue far less. As a result, athletes are able to continue with their training for longer before breathing exhaustion strikes. Consequently, the athlete’s sports performance improves.

How to Improve Your Sports Performance

Breathing muscles, the inspiratory muscles, play a vital role in the efficiency of breathing during exercise. Additionally, as you age the strength of your inspiratory muscles starts to reduce, even if you’re fit.

It is when you move out of your ‘comfort zone’ and you’re working above your lactate threshold that your breathing starts to increase steeply. You will perceive this as breathlessness, as your inspiratory muscle work increases.

To help prevent this from limiting your training sessions and ultimately your performance, it is beneficial to strengthen your inspiratory muscles. In order to do this, you must subject your breathing to a training stimulus.

Aerobic exercise can help to provide a training benefit to your inspiratory muscles, but it is not targeted and therefore sufficient enough.

Research shows that specific inspiratory muscle training:

Therefore, by training your inspiratory muscles daily with an inspiratory muscle training (IMT) device such as POWERbreathe:

  • You’ll experience an increase in resistance to fatigue – this will become apparent as you find yourself exercising for longer with less effort
  • Your breathing efficiency will improve – this is because your lungs will require less oxygen for the purpose of breathing, allowing more delivery to your other working muscles, such as your arms and legs

The result of these adaptations is an increase in sports performance.

Winter Training Advice

If we are to believe the news, the UK this year will experience a colder than average winter. But don’t let this deter you from your winter training.

Winter Training

There are a few things you can do to make your winter training more comfortable.

  1. Perform a warm-up for your muscles.
  2. Perform an inspiratory warm-up.
  3. Dress in layers and protect your hands and feet.
  4. Wear reflective clothing.
  5. Hydrate.

Physical warm-up

A physical warm up prior to any exercise is essential. Firstly it will help to prevent injury. Secondly, it will improve performance. A warm-up will take about 10-minutes and is best performed immediately prior to exercise. If you plan on going out for a run, a 10-minute brisk walk or jog will do the trick.

The intention of a warm-up is to increase muscle temperature. By performing a warm-up you will increase blood flow to your muscles, warming them up. Furthermore, by increasing blood flow, more oxygen will be available for your muscles. As a result, your performance will improve.

The NHS website has a great, all-round exercise warm-up routine that takes about 6-minutes to perform. It involves:

  1. Marching on the spot.
  2. Heel digs.
  3. Knee lifts.
  4. Shoulder rolls.
  5. Knee bends.

Inspiratory warm-up

An inspiratory warm-up means warming up the muscles you use to breathe in. Just like your other working muscles, your breathing muscles benefit too from a warm-up. In fact, not warming up the breathing muscles can lead to excessive breathlessness during the start of your training.

An Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device, such as POWERbreathe IMT, is designed specifically to target the breathing muscles. They use a resistance that you breathe in against. This makes your breathing muscles work harder. As a result, your breathing muscles become stronger and more resistant to fatigue. As a consequence, your stronger breathing muscles will not demand so much oxygen, freeing it up to go to your other working muscles instead. And just like the physical warm-up, more oxygen to your muscles means better performance.

Wear layers and reflective clothing

Wearing layers of clothing allows you to stay warm but easily cool down too when needed. This is beneficial because while training you’ll generate heat. If you’re too warm this heat will make you sweat, and the evaporation of sweat will make you feel chilly. Therefore, the benefits of layering are that you’re able to peel off a layer when you feel warm, and pop it back on when you start to cool down. Additionally, make sure your outer layer – your waterproof layer – is reflective. The reason being, at this time of year it gets dark earlier and this can creep up on you when out training.

In addition to layering your body in clothes, you need to ensure your hands, feet, ears and head stay warm too. In fact, a lot of heat escapes from your head. Furthermore, in the cold, your body firstly ensures your core is warm. This results in blood flow to your hands, feet and head being drawn away, leaving them cold.

Hydrate

In the warmth of summer, it’s easy to remember to drink. However, this is an easy thing to forget during winter training. You may not feel thirsty, but you will still become dehydrated. This happens simply from breathing, as well as sweating. Drinking before, during and after training is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.

Staying safe

Last but not least, stay safe while winter training. Make sure someone knows where you’ll be going. Monitor how you feel while you’re out. Closely monitor the time too, so you know when to head for home. Listen to your body. You know it best. If you’re feeling rotten, consider training another day instead.

Finally, heed the advice from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) on how to stay healthy during winter.

Last Posting Dates for Christmas 2018

POWERbreathe will close for Christmas and New Year, from 22nd December 2018 to 1st January 2019 inclusive. The last posting dates for your order to arrive in time for Christmas will depend on these parcel delivery services:  Royal Mail, Parcel Force or DHL. (They do not offer guarantees.)

The last posting dates for Christmas 2018

To try and ensure delivery in time for Christmas, we recommend you place your order according to the dates stipulated by Royal Mail, Parcel Force and DHL:

For UK Deliveries

  • Before 2pm on Thursday 20th December.
  • For Next Day Services – orders placed before 2pm on 21st December will be despatched the same day (if in stock) but we cannot guarantee delivery before Christmas.

If you place an order after these last posting dates, your order will be despatched on 2nd/3rd January.

For DHL International Deliveries*

*Please remember to select DHL Express.

Orders placed before 2pm on the following days:

  • Europe – 18th December
  • USA, Canada & Mexico – 14th December
  • Rest of World – 14th December

If you place an order after these last posting dates, your order will be despatched on 2nd/3rd January.

Respiratory Muscle-Induced Metaboreflex

A recent research paper in Experimental Physiology looks into the effect of an increase in inspiratory muscle work on blood flow to inactive and active limbs. It addresses the process of metaboreflex.

What is metaboreflex?

Metaboreflex is where the body restricts blood flow to the limbs when the breathing muscles fatigue. The body will do this to ensure the role of breathing continues. This is because breathing is crucial to survival. Therefore, when the body experiences a conflict between breathing and moving, breathing wins out.

How does metaboreflex work?

As soon as the body senses a conflict between breathing and extreme activity, it will redirect blood flow to the breathing muscles, for survival. In so doing, blood flow to the exercising limbs shuts down, allowing the diaphragm a chance to recover. What this tells us is that the stronger the diaphragm is, the faster it will recover. Consequently, stronger breathing muscles will, in turn, result in a better blood supply to your working limbs. This will result in a better sports performance.

These YouTube videos from breathing expert James Fletcher, clearly demonstrate the metaboreflex.

Part 1

Part 2

Study results

When exercising, the amount of energy consumed by the working muscles can be high and prolonged. Blood flow to these working muscles needs to be matched. The results of this study suggest that the control of blood redistribution to the working muscles is facilitated, in part, by respiratory muscle-induced metaboreflex.

Delaying the onset of metaboreflex

Improving the strength of your breathing muscles will help to delay the onset of the metaboreflex for the diaphragm. A scientifically proven way of doing this is with Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). In fact, there are other studies showing IMT to be beneficial too.

This award-winning research, awarded by the European College of Sport Science (ECSS), also suggests the potential role of IMT to reduce inspiratory muscle metaboreflex.

Another study suggests respiratory muscle training could enhance sports performance by delaying this process.

Finally, there is a study by Germain Fernandez Monterrubio, Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Sport, in which he finds how respiratory muscle fatigue can affect exercise tolerance on a pulmonary level, as well as, a muscular level.

Effect of increased inspiratory muscle work on blood flow to inactive and active limbs during submaximal dynamic exercise >

Can Multiple Sclerosis Affect Breathing

The automatic nervous system is part of the central nervous system. It controls vital functions, one of which is breathing, which we do without thinking. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it is unusual for MS to affect the nervous system and therefore breathing.

How Multiple Sclerosis affects breathing

However, patients with MS will experience muscle weakness. This affects all parts of the body, including the breathing muscles. These muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostals begin to lose their strength and stamina. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and breathing in and out feels like hard work. Consequently, this adds to the feeling of fatigue, which is already a debilitating symptom of Multiple Sclerosis. Furthermore, the weakness of the breathing muscles may also impede speech and voice production.

How to improve breathing strength and stamina

A 2007 study shows that Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) significantly increases breathing muscle strength in people with MS. Additionally, IMT improves how well the lungs work in people with Multiple Sclerosis who have minimal to moderate disability.

The effects of Multiple Sclerosis on your body

Healthline, the fastest growing health information site, has created this medically reviewed infographic showing the effects of MS on the body.

The infographic itself provides a quick look at the effects of MS on the body. However, the rest of the article goes on to explain in more depth how this progressive neurodegenerative condition has an impact on the whole body.

Tips to Improve Breathing

You may be asking yourself why you need to improve your breathing. It’s a fair question. After all, at rest, you take 12 – 16 breaths per minute without even thinking about it. So just imagine what your breathing would be like if you were to start thinking about how you do it. Here you’ll find 5 top tips to improve breathing.

Begin by breathing more deeply. Don’t breathe from your chest but from your abdomen instead; your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is your main breathing muscle. It’s the one you really need to think about utilising when you breathe.

Unlike diaphragmatic breathing, chest breathing means you’ll only be taking in shallow breaths. Consequently, it doesn’t provide your body with the amount of oxygen it needs to function properly. As a result, chest breathing will take a toll on your body. Unfortunately, many of us will be chest breathers, as we lead busy lives and are constantly in a state of flight or fight. In addition to the lifestyle we lead, we may also chest breathe because of a poor posture. In fact, because more of us are working on screens – from mobiles to desktops – ‘screen-apnoea’ is fast becoming a new world condition.

Screen apnoea, poor posture – in fact, many things, can result in poor breathing habits. But there are ways to improve your breathing.

Tips to improve breathing

  1. Use Google’s new 1-minute Breathing Exercise tool. Search for ‘deep breathing’ or ‘breathing exercise(s)’ to get a 1-minute guided mindfulness exercise to control your breathing.
  2. Exercise your breathing muscles with Inspiratory Muscle Training.
  3. Learn to sing! It’ll help you to control your breathing.
  4. Improve your posture. Stand up straight and draw your shoulders up, back and down.
  5. Exercise to a level where speaking becomes difficult. This will improve your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Your lungs and exercise

It is well known that being active is good for you. If performed on a regular basis, it will improve your quality of life. In fact, regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy heart and a healthy weight. Consequently, regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of serious illness. Furthermore, it helps to keep your lungs healthy too.

The European Respiratory Society has a fact sheet, that is free for all, about how exercise affects your lungs. It also explains how breathing is influenced by activity. Finally, it discusses the benefits of exercise for people with and without a lung condition. It is called Your Lungs and Exercise.

Are you a chest breather?

Place your left hand on your chest. Now place your right hand on your abdomen. Breathe in and see which hand rises more. If it’s your right hand, you’re breathing using your diaphragm. However, if your left-hand rises more, you are breathing from your chest.

If you’re breathing using your diaphragm, then you’re breathing as nature intended. However, if you’re a chest breather, then you’re not pulling the air into the base of your lungs. Consequently, this shallow breathing will affect your health. It creates tension in your body that can lead to all sorts of everyday problems.

Whether you’re breathing from the diaphragm or chest, you will still benefit from exercising your breathing muscles. Training these muscles with inspiratory muscle training will result in improvements such as breathing strength and stamina. In turn, it will reduce breathing fatigue and you’ll be able to do more, with less effort. So it’s definitely worth trying out our tips to improve breathing. Always check with a healthcare professional first, before starting any form of exercise.