A moment to breath...
Articles on acupuncture, health, life, and some actionable steps we can take...
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are beginning to realize that our beautiful region has a new reality- wildfire smoke is our new norm.
Wildfires are increasing in quantity and severity during dry season, and for the past few summers, our air quality has been taking a hit. You can view a map of air quality here: -click here-.
The biggest issue with breathing wildfire smoke is the particulate matter- tiny particles that can aggravate the lungs and go directly into our bloodstream. Here is an excellent article that goes into detail on the types of particles and at what point they can cause health issues: -click here-.
In the clinic, whenever we have days on end of poor quality air from these wildfires, I notice my migraine patients have flare-ups, sometimes preventing them from even coming in. I have had adult patients who have never had migraines previously come in with migraines on these days! So what's going on?
I haven't found any research on the connection yet, but it makes sense that if wildfire smoke aggravates lung conditions and heart conditions, and that these particulates can go directly into the bloodstream (bypassing filtration in the lungs), that they can aggravate any inflammation in the body, especially related to blood circulation issues. Particles that tiny could even cross the blood-brain barrier and aggravate central nervous system lesions or injuries (I'm thinking of MS or Alzheimer's). Neurological issues like neuropathy in hands or feet could worsen as well.
UPDATE: I have recently seen air quality warnings not only mention lung and cardiac issues as being concerns with wildfire smoke, but also diabetes. Again, blood circulation issues (build up of sugar crystals depositing in tissues will be worsened with particulate matter entering the bloodstream and also depositing in tissues).
Migraines can usually be stopped by increasing blood circulation to the brain, or by increasing oxygen in the blood stream. It is frequently connected to vasculature, and so when these particulates are aggravating tissues and depositing in places and causing swelling (like it is in the lungs)... then it could do the same to the brain.
What can be done? Here are some helpful suggestions from the Department of Health in Washington: -click here-.
-stay indoors where you have filtered air
-certainly don't go exerting yourself outside
-drink plenty of water (flush the crud out!)
-consult your healthcare provider about using an N95 ventilator (can find at hardware store or on Amazon)
Please note that even a wet handkerchief or those medical masks won't help. The only sort of mask that will block these particles is a well-fitting, sealed, N95 mask. These masks can block out 95% of the particulate matter, but the masks are not for everyone. It is more difficult to breath through an N95 mask, which might be a very bad idea if you have, say, COPD. Better then to just stay indoors where you have filtered air.
Comments to the FDA need to be submitted by September 10, 2018!
If you have been living with chronic pain and have found helpful ways to manage it or heal from it, then I highly suggest you share your story with the FDA. If great support for acupuncture, chiropractic, or even yoga is written and sent in, it may garner more support from the FDA, which may also bring about more insurance coverage. Letting the world know how acupuncture helps us is the best way to make acupuncture become more available to us all.
Here is a summary provided on regulations.gov about the meeting that occurred on July 9, 2018, but will be open to public comments and testimonies until September 10, 2018:
"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency, or we) is announcing a public meeting and an opportunity for public comment on “Patient-Focused Drug Development for Chronic Pain.” The public meeting will provide patients (including adult and pediatric patients) with an opportunity to present to FDA their perspectives on the impacts of chronic pain, views on treatment approaches for chronic pain, and challenges or barriers to accessing treatments. FDA is particularly interested in hearing from patients who experience chronic pain that is managed with analgesic medications such as opioids, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants; other medications; and non-pharmacologic interventions or therapies."
(Non-pharmacologic interventions or therapies includes acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, mind-body exercises, diet changes, or any other non-pharmacological pain management.)
Please follow instructions on their website to submit your comments, bearing in mind that it is a public forum: click here to visit their website (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2018-N-1621-0001).
Here is their list of questions to answer:
Topic 1: Symptoms and Daily Impacts of Chronic Pain That Matter Most to Patients
1. How would you describe your chronic pain? (Characteristics could include location, radiation, intensity, duration, constancy or intermittency, triggers etc.)
2. What are the most significant symptoms that you experience resulting from your condition? (Examples may include restricted range of motion, muscle spasms, changes in sensation, etc.)
3. Are there specific activities that are important to you but that you cannot do at all or as fully as you would like because of your chronic pain? (Examples of activities may include work or school activities, sleeping through the night, daily hygiene, participation in sports or social activities, intimacy with a spouse or partner, etc.)
4. How has your chronic pain changed over time? (Considerations include severity and frequency of your chronic pain and the effects of chronic pain on your daily activities.)
Topic 2: Patients' Perspectives on Current Approaches to Treatment of Chronic Pain
1. What are you currently doing to help treat your chronic pain? (Examples may include prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, and non-drug therapies.)
a. How has your treatment regimen changed over time, and why? (Examples may include change in your condition, change in dose, or treatment side effects.)
b. What factors do you take into account when making decisions about selecting a course of treatment?
2. How well does your current treatment regimen manage your chronic pain? (Considerations include severity and frequency of your chronic pain and the effects of chronic pain on your daily activities.)
3. What are the most significant downsides to your current treatments, and how do they affect your daily life?
4. What challenges or barriers to accessing or using medical treatments for chronic pain have you or do you encounter?
5. What specific things would you look for in an ideal treatment for your chronic pain?