The last post covered three inflammatory triggers to tackle in order to get your autoimmune disease into remission. Here we talk about another significant trigger that you may not be aware of. By the way, why should you get in remission? Learn about this here.
Lack of oxygen!
Lack of oxygen is called hypoxia, and yes it directly causes inflammation. Remember, it’s important to control inflammation when you have autoimmunity. Uncontrolled inflammation increases your risk of a flare, as well as chances of developing even more autoimmune processes.
These are the most common causes of hypoxia:
- Your lungs don’t work efficiently because of asthma or chronic bronchitis.
- You don’t exercise.
- High altitude.
- Poor circulation.
- Sleep apnea.
Let’s dig into each one of these…
Asthma, bronchitis, respiratory insufficiency
It’s likely you already know if you have respiratory insufficiency. If you have chronic asthma or bronchitis, chances are high. With any doubt, you can test with a peak flow meter.
2. Best DIY fix
Buteyko breathing! I can attest that I fixed my asthma and got off an inhaler with this technique. At the time you could only learn it from private trainers and they were hard to find. Now Patrick McKweon offers many ways to easily learn this.
Get medical care. Some people need antibiotics for infections or inhalers for wheezing. If you have chronic asthma or bronchitis and there is no infection, your immune system may be stuck in what’s known as Th2 dominance. Consult a practitioner for help to get unstuck.
Lack of exercise
There is not a whole lot to say about this except for… Go exercise! Just make it a priority. If you don’t exercise because of a physical injury or disability, get help from a trainer or physical therapist.
Just to be clear, we are talking about exercise that tones your lungs and cardiovascular system. This means you increase your heart rate, and sweat. If you are training in the Buteyko method, you want to breathe through your nose and not pant through your mouth.
You get less oxygen when you travel to or live at an altitude of 1500-2000+ meters. If you have autoimmunity or inflammation, this may not the best environment for you. If you have no choice about it, develop a plan to prevent low oxygen side effects.
One thing you can do is oxygen therapy: You can get your own oxygen tank under prescription, purchase your own oxygen bar, or go to oxygen bars or spas. Also, consider increasing your anti-inflammatory protocol (more on this later in the series) during and after your trip.
Most of you are aware of poor circulation, because your extremities get cold easily. Other signs of poor circulation include swelling, numbness, tingling, and skin color changes. Sometimes poor circulation is systemic, and sometimes it affects just a part of your body.
There are many reasons for poor circulation, and it’s best to get help from your medical provider on this one. Causes range from hypothyroidism, diabetes, artery disease, lymphedema, Raynaud’s disease, obesity, varicose veins and blood clots. Each of these requires a different approach.
Sometimes there is no obvious conventional diagnosis for your poor circulation, and that is when an integrative approach can be useful. Here are some examples:
• You may be stuck in a sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system state. To put this simply, stress hormones move blood away from your extremities. With prolonged stress, your nervous system pendulum can get stuck in stress and not swing back to relaxed hormones, when blood flow returns to your extremities.
DIY fix: meditate! Check out an app such as calm.com. Set aside time each day, even 10 minutes can make a huge difference. Want to feel the difference immediately? Get a finger thermometer, check your temperature before and after meditation. See if your temperature goes up. If it does, you are on the right track.
• You may have impaired circulation because of an injury. Pay attention to injuries, and get some help to restore blood and lymph circulation. Acupuncture is a great modality for this.
• You may fit the Chinese medical diagnosis of “yang deficiency” and be a candidate for an herbal formula that actually warms you up and improves circulation. Here’s an example, and here’s another one I use for impaired circulation combined with infertility or menstrual problems.
Anemia will definitely cause hypoxia! Don’t jump to the conclusion that anemia is caused by low iron without testing. There are many kinds of anemia, including B12 or folate deficiency.
Anemia will show up on a basic comprehensive blood panel (CBC). It’s useful to use functional rather than conventional lab ranges because you can detect simmering anemia that is not yet full-blown. Assessing anemia is not a DIY thing, nor is treating it.
You may think sleep apnea is something that middle-aged or older heavyset people get. However, young and thin people can have apnea for all sorts of reasons. Under age 50, apnea is more common for guys, but after age 50, women have it just as frequently as men.
People tend to ignore this issue. They suspect it but don’t get assessed. They may know they have it but they don’t treat. Sleep apnea is epidemic and people have no idea how serious the repercussions are. This goes way beyond inflammation! Read my apnea blog here.
One of the reasons people ignore it is because they don’t want to do a sleep study. However, you can do a sleep study at home! Another reason people ignore it is because they think very are going to end up with the CPAP machine and they don’t want to sleep like Darth Vader. Understandable! But honestly, there are many new and innovative treatments for sleep apnea. There is a range of devices, laser techniques, and even tongue therapy – All with promising results.
Get oxygen on board!
I hope this sheds light on the importance of oxygen. Perhaps something from this post rings a bell for you. If anything from these categories sounds like you, and you have autoimmunity, investigate!
Stay tuned for the next post in this series on autoimmunity.