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Can marijuana help treat asthma?

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Changes in marijuana laws and the increased use of medicinal marijuana have led to questions about what conditions it can be used to treat. Many people wonder whether marijuana can affect or treat asthma.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that occurs when the airways in the chest get narrower or become inflamed. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.



There is no cure for asthma, so treatment involves managing the symptoms and preventing complications. Could marijuana help reduce symptoms? Read on for more information about the possible benefits and risks.

Marijuana for asthma

Marijuana is available to use in many forms other than smoking. For example, water vaporizers or bongs filter the smoke through water, which may reduce the potential for lung irritation.

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There are also edible and topical forms of marijuana, such as cannabidiol (CBD) oils, which may be more suitable for someone with asthma.

These products may give the benefits of marijuana without the risk of lung irritation.

Benefits

Marijuana is a type of cannabinoid, which is known to contain anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.

Sometimes, it is used medicinally to treat chronic conditions that cause pain and inflammation, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. Researchers have looked into whether people with other inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, can use marijuana safely.

Research has found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component in marijuana, can help suppress the immune system, which may help reduce symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases such as asthma.

There is a variety of ways to use marijuana. Much of the research on cannabinoids for asthma has focused on the cannabinoid chemical, rather than more popular forms.

For example, a 2013 study found potential benefits from the use of a water vaporizer. The study found that people using a vaporizer were significantly less likely to combine marijuana with tobacco than if they were smoking it.

They also found that people perceived some health benefits when using a vaporizer, as they were inhaling vapor and not actual smoke.

Another 2015 review argues that inhaling marijuana through a vaporizer is likely less harmful than smoking it, especially as frequent smokers often report respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing.

Risks

Despite some research that suggests that some forms of marijuana may be beneficial for people with asthma, it still has risks.

Smoking marijuana can make some asthma symptoms worse, including:

  • coughing

  • increased phlegm

  • wheezing

  • shortness of breath

  • swelling of the throat

These symptoms are usually short-lived and will go away once someone stops smoking. However, these symptoms can trigger an asthma attack in someone with asthma.

Smoking any substance, including marijuana, can be extremely irritating to the lung tissue. Lung irritants can trigger or worsen asthma attacks in some people.

For that reason, it is essential that someone with asthma or another lung disease avoids smoking any substance, including marijuana.

In addition to making asthma symptoms worse, people who are heavy marijuana smokers may have an increased risk of developing bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It is unknown whether this increased risk is also found in people who are light smokers.

Smoking marijuana can cause bullae to form in the lungs. Bullae are large air sacs that can make it more difficult to breathe. They can also rupture or pop, which can trigger a lung to collapse. A collapsed lung can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

The bottom line

The laws regarding marijuana and medical marijuana are constantly developing. Many people may wonder if using marijuana or a marijuana product could help reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions such as asthma.

For people with asthma, there may be some potential benefits to using the active compound in marijuana.

Smoking marijuana can be very risky for people with respiratory conditions, so they should consider using alternate forms, such as vapors or edible oils.

It is important to be honest with a doctor about the amount and type of marijuana used, especially for people with chronic medical conditions.

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Health & Lifestyle

4 reasons not to mount your TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

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The practice of mounting a TV over a fireplace has somehow become extremely popular in the U.S. If you didn’t do it yourself, chances are very good that you know someone who has. Who it was that thought up this idea and why they found it appealing in the first place are two mysteries that will likely follow us to our graves. But that’s all in the past now. And since science has yet to crank out a functional time machine that would allow me to preemptively ground the idea before it ever took off, the best we can do at this point is try to persuade you, dear reader, from perpetuating this practice.

Please don’t mistake our contempt for TVs over fireplaces as an insult to the sensibilities of those of you who have them set up that way. There is a very good chance you feel you have no other choice. And if you really like it that way? More power to you. At the end of the day, the guilty party is the person(s) who designed your home. They made the fireplace the focal point of your living/entertainment room, and then filled the rest of the joint with windows. Then they made sure power and cable was run to the location directly above your fireplace, virtually placing a big sign that says “install TV here.” How unfortunate.



But hold on a moment. Is putting a TV above your fireplace really that poor an idea? Well, it depends. If you can avoid it, you should, and we explain why below. But if you must, there are a few things you will want to know, and a few tips we can offer to help make it the best possible viewing experience.

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Heat + electronics = bad

Electronics don’t care for heat, and they care for smoke even less. Ever seen the windows inside the car of a cigarette smoker? Unless the smoking driver is an equally habitual window washer, those windows are covered with a hazy film of filth. Exposed to the smoke of burning wood, the same film can build up on the components inside the cabinet of a TV. You may not see the particulate when you have a fire, but it is there (you can smell it). If you burn wood — even with the flue open and fully functional — there will be a small amount of smoke and particulate emitted. And once that particulate builds up, so does the heat generated by the TV.

We have a wood burning stove, and the heat generated by that thing (that’s what it was designed to do) is enough to melt candles placed several feet above on the mantle. For us, mounting over this area is a deathwish for the TV.

Neck headaches become a problem when you start protruding your chin forward with that “looking up” posture.

To make sure we aren’t just blowing smoke (sorry), we spoke to Brian Sevigny, owner of Portland, Oregon-based A/V installation service, Digital Connex. He told us he gets asked to install TV’s over fireplaces frequently. When we asked him if he encouraged or discouraged the practice, he was quick to jump in. “Discourage,” Sevigny said firmly, “primarily because of the heat and the smoke.”

Most electronic devices simply operate best and most reliably at lower temperatures. Beyond that, excessive heat can cause temperature-sensitive materials to degrade quickly, and conductive materials can even sprout little metal whiskers, causing shorts within the TVs circuitry.

However, if you have a more conventional wood burning fireplace — and especially if you have a gas fireplace insert — the fact is you are probably going to be just fine. That TV may die earlier than it had to, but you will probably replace that TV before it dies anyway.

It’s a pain in the neck

This is an issue we experienced many times ourselves as a guest at friends’ houses and various vacation rentals. We’ve also heard complaints from many others. Still, we are informed that, for some of you, neck pain from watching an elevated TV has never been a problem. If you are in the latter camp, please feel free to move right along, and congratulations on your superior spinal support. For the rest of you, please read on.

Placing a TV above a fireplace moves the image you’re trying to watch well above eye level. Think back to the last time you went to the movie theater and had to sit in one of the front three rows. Chances are you walked out of the theater with a stiff neck. Craning your neck into an unnatural position for an extended period of time is going to cause temporary discomfort, but doing so for even short periods of time, day after day, can have lasting effects, like chronic headaches.

We spoke to Brad Simpson, a physical therapist and Clinical Director at Life’s Work Physical Therapy. Simpson’s clinic treats patients with multiple types of musculoskeletal problems and is an expert in ergonomics; he says that repeatedly sitting in an unnatural position will have lasting repercussions.

“It ends up putting your body in a position where your deep-neck stabilizers, muscle-wise — it’s kind of like the core of your lower back, but up in your neck — aren’t able to function. That position where you’re having to push your head forward and up in order to look up at the television compromises those muscles,” Simpson said. “Having your head forward like that causes a shearing force within your mid-cervical spine. That’s where a lot of pain ends up coming from … you lose the ability for your neck to stabilize.”

Woman rubbing sore neck

And muscle pain isn’t the only thing you can suffer from … headaches are a huge problem in our population, and neck headaches become a problem as well when you start protruding your chin forward with that ‘looking up’ posture,” Simpson said. He also indicated this poor posture leads to improper breathing, which causes us to overuse certain muscles which become yet another source of pain. The main takeaway from our interview: It’s not worth the pain.

Six degrees of separation from a beautiful picture

On this issue, there is no debate. We review multitudes of TVs every year, and the viewing angle on LED/LCD TVs remains a big problem, even among top-tier TVs.

An LCD screen (which is what you find on “LED” TVs) is essentially made up of a bunch of tiny, shuttered windows. These windows open and close in order to let the TV’s backlight through, thus creating an image. The problem with these windows is that they have a very limited viewing angle. If you move too far left, right, up, or down you start seeing a fraction of the produced light. The result is a washed out, lifeless picture — hardly what you had in mind when you laid out hard-earned cash for a new TV.

The result is a washed out, lifeless picture — hardly what you had in mind when you laid out hard-earned cash for a new TV.

The good news here is that you do have some options to mitigate this problem. The first is to buy a tilting wall mount with enough down angle to give you a more direct view of the screen. There are even mounts that will drop the TV down closer to your eye level (make sure not to have the fireplace going, though). Either option will improve both color saturation and contrast.

The second option is to purchase an OLED TV, which has a nearly infinite viewing angle and will look amazing no matter how high you place the TV. There are plenty of other reasons why OLED wins in an OLED vs. LED TV battle. If an OLED TV isn’t an option for you, considering an LED TV that uses an IPS LCD panel.

It’s just not cute

To be totally frank, we have the design-sense of a color-blind hippopotamus (no offense intended to hippopotamuses, but they do spend a lot of time in the mud — just saying). Having accepted our utter lack of skills in the decor department long ago, we reached out to Garrison Hullinger, owner of Garrison Hullinger Interior Design, and asked him if he had a TV mounted over his fireplace. “No, I live in a 100-plus-year-old home and would never put a TV in my formal living room over the fireplace,” Hullinger told me. “We also have a beach house with a fireplace in the formal living room, and choose not to hang a TV in that room.”

please dont mount your tv over the fireplace 1

Again, though, most modern homes have rooms built around this idea. Hullinger told us about 25 percent of the homes he has walked into had one location that was wired and ready for a TV over the fireplace. Sevigny echoed that estimation when he told us that almost all of the new construction he has seen “will have electrical and coax connections already installed above the fireplace.”

In the end, this is pure opinion, but one that is shared by many others. Take it as you will.

But I have to (or want to) anyway. What can I do to make the best of it?

In an ideal world — and, granted, we tend to be TV snobs so our viewpoint is slanted — you would place your TV in another room purpose built for enjoying TV, and maybe make music the focus of your main living area. However, most homes just aren’t designed that way, and your priorities are likely vastly different than my own. If you like the idea and look of mounting your TV over your fireplace, or if you simply have no other choice, here are a few suggestions to make the best of it.

  • Sit further back if you can — As you move away from the TV’s location, the severity of the angle to which you must crane your neck is reduced.

  • Lounge it out! — Kick back and relax when you watch TV. You will eliminate the need to crane your neck entirely.

  • Use a tilting or motorized wall mount — Altering the TVs angle to get a more direct view of the TV will improve picture quality.

  • Purchase an OLED TV — In addition to providing an outstanding picture and a super-thin profile, OLED TVs have no viewing-angle problems.

  • Don’t have a fire and watch TV at the same time — The flicker of the fire and added brightness in a darkened room can play with your pupils. and strain your eyes while watching. It’s also a bit of a distraction. If the two are close together, perhaps enjoy just one or the other at a time.

  • Hire a professional installer — Not only will a professional be able to handle cable management for a clean install, they come armed with other helpful suggestions to make the most of your TV installation.

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Zambia express optimism over Malaria eradication by 2021.

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Zambia aims to eradicate malaria, the country’s biggest killer, within three years after deaths from the disease halved last year from 2014, the health minister said on Wednesday.

Health Minister Chitalu Chlufya told reporters the southern African nation had recorded a decline in malaria incidence rates from 407 cases per 1,000 in 2014 to 336 cases per 1,000 last year and would be malaria-free by 2021.



“One of our big goals is to eliminate malaria by 2021. It counters progress in development but it is a preventable and treatable disease,” Chilufya said.

Malaria deaths in Zambia had halved to 1,400 last year compared with 2014, he said.

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Chilufya said the government had also stepped up indoor spraying, surveillance and research.

Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Zambia could not be reached for comment.

The world has made huge strides against malaria since 2000, with death rates plunging by 60 percent and at least six million lives saved globally, WHO says.

But efforts to end one of the world’s deadliest diseases, which kills about 430,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa, are under threat as mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to measures such as bed nets and drugs.

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