The ‘whistle’ that helps you use your inhaler properly: Small ring that clips on to device and shrills when patients use it correctly could slash number of asthma attacks
A small ring that clips on to an inhaler and whistles when patients use it correctly could slash the number of potentially fatal asthma attacks.
The Clip-Tone device detects the speed and force with which patients are inhaling, and if this is sufficient enough to get the medicine into their lungs, it whistles.
If it does not whistle, it means the entire dose is not reaching the airway, increasing the risk of a flare-up. The idea is to teach patients to use their inhalers correctly to avoid this.
In a recent study, patients who used Clip-Tone consistently inhaled for the proper amount of time. The device has now launched in the UK, and patients can get it for certain inhalers on an NHS prescription.
A small ring that clips on to an inhaler and whistles when patients use it correctly could slash the number of potentially fatal asthma attacks [File photo]
More than 1,400 people a year in the UK die from asthma — many as a result of poorly controlled illness, which means they are not getting enough steroid drugs into their lungs to prevent an attack.
The charity Asthma UK estimates up to one in three patients is making their condition worse by not using their inhalers properly, meaning their medicine is deposited on the tongue, or at the back of the throat, instead of reaching the lungs.
Asthma patients use inhalers mainly to take steroids such as beclomethasone (which dampens down inflammation in the lungs), or salbutamol (to clear the airway when they become wheezy).
They are known as metered-dose inhalers as each squeeze of the canister releases a precise dose. This varies according to the severity of the patient’s asthma.
But to get the medicine into the lungs, the patient must inhale deeply for five seconds at the exact moment they press the canister. It’s a technique that many struggle to master, especially children.
Spacers — plastic chambers that hold the aerosol until the patient is ready to breathe it in — can improve uptake, but they are bulky and hard to carry around.
The Clip-Tone device could be a simple solution. The ring clips on to the top of the inhaler, and as the patient breathes in with the inhaler in their mouth, air moves through a tiny hole in the Clip-Tone.
Asthma patients use inhalers mainly to take steroids such as beclomethasone (which dampens down inflammation in the lungs), or salbutamol (to clear the airway when they become wheezy). They are known as metered-dose inhalers as each squeeze of the canister releases a precise dose
This produces a whistling sound when the speed of the inhaled air reaches 20 litres a minute — the minimum rate needed to help propel the drug into the lungs. As soon as they hear the whistle, the patient presses the canister to release the drug. The patient continues to breathe in for five seconds.
The device can also be paired with an app which charts how well it’s being used.
A study published in the European Respiratory Journal in September showed that nearly twice as many patients correctly inhaled for five seconds when using Clip-Tone, compared to those just given verbal advice on how to improve their technique.
The product only fits Evohaler pumps used, for example, for Ventolin and Seretide inhalers, which are common in the UK.
But the UK company behind it, Clement Clarke International, says it is working on other versions to fit differently shaped inhalers. Eventually, it says, the whistling device will be built into all inhalers at the time of manufacture.
Dr Mark Levy, a GP specialising in asthma and former chairman of the Primary Care Respiratory Society, says: ‘This is a simple but ingenious device. It stops asthma patients having life-threatening attacks and cuts down on NHS waste.
‘Steroid inhalers cost around £60 each, yet much of the medicine just ends up in patients’ throats.’
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Gene therapy may restore sight
Scientists have used gene therapy to make blind mice see again, paving the way for a new treatment for conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In AMD and some other eye diseases, the cells that make a light-sensitive protein called opsin are destroyed.
By giving the rodents a jab of a virus containing a gene that produces opsin, the team at the National Eye Institute in the U.S. stimulated other cells to sense light.
Writing in the journal Nature Gene Therapy, they say human trials are now planned.
Gaming speeds op recovery
Playing computer games before having an operation may aid recovery.
Patients in the U.S. aged 60-plus, who played a game that challenged memory and problem-solving skills for an hour a day before major surgery, were 40 per cent less likely to experience delirium after their operation.
This is a common complication in older patients and causes mental confusion, and can lead to longer hospital stays, slower recoveries, and even an increased risk of death.
Keeping the mind ‘active and challenged’ can help prepare the brain for surgery, reports the journal JAMA Surgery.
Those with hearing aids have a lower risk of fall-related injuries than those who leave their hearing loss uncorrected, according to a study from the University of Michigan in the U.S
The surprising links between diseases. This week: Hearing loss and falls
Those with hearing aids have a lower risk of fall-related injuries than those who leave their hearing loss uncorrected, according to a study from the University of Michigan in the U.S.
‘It’s plausible that hearing aids may help reduce falls as hearing helps your orientation,’ explains Dr Piers Dawes, a senior lecturer in audiology at the University of Manchester.
However, he does point out that hearing aids are not free in the U.S., so it’s possible that those who can’t afford to buy one may also be in poorer health in other ways.
But hearing aids are free on the NHS, ‘so if you think you might have a hearing problem, your GP can refer you to an NHS audiologist’, says Dr Dawes.
Spices — they may reduce inflammation linked to diseases, according to research by Penn State University in the U.S.
A study found that when 6g of a spice blend was added to a meal high in fat and carbs, 12 overweight participants had lower inflammation markers in their blood after eating it, compared to when they consumed the same meal without spices.
Tess Daly sparkled her way back on to the Strictly dance-floor in a sequinned jumpsuit that revealed a well-toned arm.
Tess, 51, has said: ‘I don’t like sweating, so [I do] yoga’.
She also likes ‘swimming, skipping and trampolining’.
What to try: The ‘YT’ exercise works the muscles in the arms and shoulders.
Hold a dumbbell or water bottle in each hand.
Stand up straight and bend your knees slightly.
Hang your arms straight, then raise them up close to your ears so they form a Y shape with your body.
Return to the start position, then raise your arms out to the sides to make a T shape with your body.
Repeat for 60 seconds and do three sets.
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