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Pneumonia is a type of lung infection that may affect one or both lungs. In this condition the air sacs, also known as alveoli, fill with pus or fluid which makes it difficult to breathe. Moreover, pneumonia is known to cause inflammation in the air sacs. This disease may range from mild to life threatening and the severity depends on cause of inflammation, the organism fostering your infection, your age and general health.
Most common symptoms associated with the condition are:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shaking chills
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Dry cough
- Muscle aches
- Bluish skin tone due to oxygen deficiency
- Blood in sputum i.e. coughed up mucus
- Labored breathing
- High fever
- Bacteria- One of the most common causes of pneumonia is the bacteria named as Streptococcus pneumoniae. This type of pneumonia may occur after you have had flu or a cold, or maybe even on its own. Moreover, it may affect only one part of the lung i.e. the lobe and is also known as lobar pneumonia.
- Viruses- Viruses are one of the main reasons why children below 5 years of age suffer from pneumonia. Viruses that cause pneumonia may also cause cold or flu. Viral pneumonia is usually mild and may be treated at home itself. However, in some cases, it may be very severe and life-threatening.
- Mycoplasmas- Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that doesn't have a cell wall around the cell membrane which is why they are usually unaffected by most antibiotics which target cell wall synthesis. The symptoms of pneumonia caused by mycoplasmas are mild and the patient does not require bed rest. This type of pneumonia is known as 'Walking Pneumonia'.
- Fungi- People with weakened immune systems or chronic health problems usually develop pneumonia due to fungi. You may also develop fungal pneumonia by inhaling large doses of it mainly found in soil or bird droppings.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition, which primarily affects the lungs and persistence of this condition might lead to severe breathing problems and loss of lung function. If you have inherited two copies of the defective gene from your parents, you are likely to suffer from this disease. Cystic Fibrosis causes a buildup of thick mucus in your lungs and affects other organs such as the kidneys, pancreas and the intestines in your body.
It isn't very uncommon as one out of fifty people in Asia is a carrier of this disease. The disease gets its name from the cysts formed in the pancreas of the sufferer. However, this disease can be detected by testing the quantity of salt present in your sweat. Prenatal testing for Fibrosis is another method to test if your newborn is likely to contract a lung infection.
Complications faced due to cystic fibrosis include:
- Serious sinus infections
- Serious damage in lungs due to inflammation and incessant infection
- Complication in breaking down protein
- Respiratory tract contamination
If you observe one or more of the following symptoms, you might be suffering from Cystic Fibrosis:
- Salty-tasting skin
- Bowel obstruction caused due to meconium ileus (obstruction of the bowels)
- Mucus amiss in your alveoli
- Persistent coughing with phlegm discharge
- Shortness of breath while engaging in a physical task
- Stunted or measly growth despite healthy lifestyle habits
- Infertility in males
If you're suffering from cystic fibrosis, there isn't any particular treatment which is recommended due to the varying degrees of it found in people. However, consultation with a medical practitioner and an individualised treatment plan can help you minimise the risks and lead a better life.
Some therapies you can opt for are:
- Airway clearance: This therapy helps sift the thick layer of mucus around your organs. Some people have also chosen to use the inflatable vest which vibrates around your chest, thereby, thinning and loosening the layer of mucus.
- Inhaled medicines: Another breakthrough in the field of respiratory medicine, this method requires the patient to sniff a liquid consisting of mist, which is inhaled with the aid of a nebuliser. This method is known to be beneficial for opening airways.
- Pancreatic enzyme supplements: Along with multivitamins, these specially designed supplements are known to cater to your pancreas with the much-needed nutrients and they need to be consumed with every meal.
Spirometry is a common medical test that is conducted in order to detect whether your lungs are working properly. This is done by detecting the amount of air you can inhale and exhale along with the time taken to complete both of these procedures. Spirometry is useful to diagnose any underlying medical condition like asthma, Chronic Obtrusive Pulmonary Disease, persistent coughing or problem during breathing. If you are receiving treatment for chronic lung disorder, spirometry is also useful to check whether or not your lungs are responding to the specific kind of treatment.
Procedure: The process of spirometry involves the use a mouthpiece and a tube adjoined with a machine which displays the recorded results. Before the onset of the procedure, which generally takes place in a hospital, you will be prescribed by the doctor to wear comfortable clothing which will not restrict your normal breathing process and will be asked to have a light meal before the procedure. The procedure will be conducted while you are sitting.
Spirometry takes an estimated amount of 15 minutes to get over with. The nurse will put a clip on your nose in order to close your nostrils. After that, you have to take a deep breath and then breathe out as hard as possible on the tube for a few seconds. You have to make sure that there's no air leakage during this procedure by putting your lips tightly over the tube. In order to arrive at a stable result, you have to conduct the test three times at least. If the results are hugely diverse, then you have to take the test again. The highest result among the three tests is usually denoted as the ultimate test result.
Risks: Spirometry is generally a low-risk inducing procedure. But in some cases, it might cause loss of breath, moments after the procedure. Also, spirometry should not be conducted if the patient has recently had a heart attack or surgery of the eye, abdomen or chest. If you are suffering from vomiting tendencies and you have regular instances of blood in your cough, you should also avoid spirometry.
Although your body is already in possession of the bacteria leading to tuberculosis, your immune system is able to prevent you from becoming sick. Doctors have made a distinction between latent and active tuberculosis (TB). In case of latent TB, the bacteria in the body in a passive state and it causes no symptoms, and therefore it is not contagious. But, in the case of active TB, you would become sick and may even spread the disease to others. It can take place in the first few weeks or even after several months of being infected with TB bacteria.
What are the symptoms of active TB?
If you are coughing for over three weeks and sometimes even coughing up blood, it can be a sign of TB. Chest pain and pain while coughing and breathing along with fatigue, fever, chills and night sweat are the common symptoms of TB along with loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss. TB may even affect other organs of your body, including your brain, spine and kidneys. When TB takes place outside the lungs, then the signs of TB can vary as per the organs that are involved. For instance, TB in the spine can cause back pain and that in kidneys may cause blood in the urine.
What are the causes of TB?
TB is stemmed from a bacteria which spreads from individual to individual via the microscopic droplets that are released into the air. This may happen when an affected person is left untreated and he speaks or sneezes or coughs or laughs. Though the disease is contagious, it is not easy to be affected by it. As a result, you are much more likely to get affected with active tuberculosis from a person you live with or come in regular contact with, rather than a stranger. It is important to note here that people who are affected with TB and going through proper medications for over two weeks are no more contagious.
Right from the 1980s, the number of individuals affected with TB has increased dramatically, owing to the spread of HIV, which is the virus known for causing AIDS. A person infected with HIV has a weak immunity system as a result of which it becomes difficult for the body to deal with TB bacteria. So those who have AIDS are more likely to be affected with active TB and sometimes the latent form also progresses to an active one very quickly. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance and detect if you have any such health complications concerning TB.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease, which affects the airways of your lungs (respiratory tract that pumps oxygen into the lungs). It is long term in nature. It is characterized by shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. It occurs few times a day or few times a week depending on the person it affects. Sometimes it worsens during the night.
What triggers Asthma?
- Airborne particles such as dust mites, mold spores, pollen and cockroach waste.
- Infections in the respiratory system such as common cold.
- Cold air can also trigger asthma.
- Physical or outdoor activities which make you pant such as running, skipping, jogging and jumping can cause shortness of breath, thus triggering asthma.
- Pollutants and irritants in air such as smoke.
- Some medications can also trigger asthma.
- Stress and nervous attacks (panic attacks) also trigger asthma.
How to manage asthma better by changing your lifestyle:
- Try to avoid keeping animals in your house such as dogs, cats and rabbits. Many times animal fur, waste, urine and saliva contains particles which can cause allergic reactions and make you cough uncontrollably. This in turn triggers asthma attacks. If you have pets try keeping them away from your bedroom.
- Dust mites also cause allergies which trigger asthma. So wash your carpets, rugs, bed-linen and pillowcases in hot water.
- Bugs and insects such as cockroaches are not only unhygienic, but can also trigger asthma. Cockroach droppings near your bed, kitchen and food are dangerous and you should call an exterminator to get rid of these bugs.
- Sometimes, heavy fragrance also aggravates your respiratory tract and triggers shortness of breath. Avoid using heavy perfumes, deodorants and room fresheners.
- Pollution also triggers asthma. Dust particles come out from the vehicles and mix with the air. If this air is inhaled, it might trigger uncontrollable asthma. So try to cover your mouth with a cloth when you step out of your house.
Asthma can be very severe and can bring many hurdles in your day to day activities. Changing your lifestyle and certain habits can reduce asthma to a great extent. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
A cough is probably one of the most common respiratory diseases that people suffer from. In most cases, it is nothing to worry about and can be cured with cough suppressants and salt water gargles. However, coughing of blood is a serious problem. The coughing up of blood that originates from below the level of the larynx is known as hemoptysis. This can vary in terms of severity depending on the amount of blood being expelled. This disease is a common condition, but on an average, less than 5% of hemoptysis cases are life threatening.
Hemoptysis rarely affects children. The symptoms of this condition include:
Sudden onset of a cough with bloody phlegm
Chest pain: Medical attention should be sought in cases where this condition recurs often, if it lasts for longer than a fortnight or if the volume of blood expectorated is more than 30ml per day. The various tools that help in the diagnosis of this condition are:
Chest radiography: This imaging modality helps lateralize bleeding and understand the amount of lung involvement. It is quick, inexpensive and can also help detect other underlying abnormalities.
Bronchoscopy: This involves the insertions of a rigid or flexible endoscope into the bronchial passages to check the airways and determine active bleeding sites.
MDCT: A multidetector CT is a non-invasive imaging tool that provides a comprehensive evaluation of airways, lung parenchyma, and thoracic vessels. It can also be used to uncover potential causes of bleeding such as bronchiectasis, pulmonary infections and lung cancer. In some cases, a multidetector CT angiography may also be used.
Oral antibiotics are usually the first stage of treatment for this condition. Smokers will also be urged to quit cigarettes as this can worsen their condition. Treatment for minor hemoptysis may also include:
- Oral hemostatics
- Cough suppressants
- Radiation of laser treatment
- Therapeutic bronchoscopy
In its later stages, hemoptysis can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure known as endovascular embolization or with surgery. In some cases, endovascular embolization may also be sued to stabilise the patient before surgery. This procedure reduces the pressure in the hypertrophic arterial blood vessels and decreases the risk of perioperative bleeding.
Hemoptysis is also one of the most common complaints of lung cancer patients. Depending on the stage of cancer and the amount of blood expectorated, treatment in some cases may not be possible. In such cases, a parenteral opioid and fast-acting benzodiazepine may be administered.
Smoking can cause irreparable damage to your mind and body. Chemicals in the tobacco travel to all parts of the body, leaving no area unaffected. According to available data, smoking causes 30% of all cancer deaths and about 80% deaths from emphysema and bronchitis. In addition to adversely affecting yourself, smoking also has a severe impact on your near and dear ones. According to WHO, about 600,000 people die every year from passive smoking. Out of the deaths that occur due to this, 1/3rd is that of children.
The Indian situation
While 85% of tobacco users worldwide consume it in the form of cigarettes, in India only 13% use it in that form. Additionally, 54% use it in the form of beedis. A study conducted on Indian smokers has revealed that an average of 8.2 cigarettes is smoked by an individual daily.
The study also revealed that the number of cigarettes smoked every year had grown to over 6 trillion. While 1 out of 10 adults dies from tobacco use worldwide, 5% of deaths in women and 20% of deaths in men in India are caused by cigarette and beedi smoking.
What happens when you smoke?
Cigarette smoke is made up of 4000 chemicals that are present either as tiny particles or gases and about 50 are known to lead to cancer, the toxin nicotine being one of them. In addition to nicotine, the chemicals that make up cigarette smoke also include tar and carbon monoxide. Prolonged exposure to these toxins can hamper your body's ability to filter air and clean the lungs. The smoke not only irritates the lungs but also causes excess production of mucus.
It also causes a paralysis of the tiny hair-like structures like cilia that line the airways and are responsible for removing dust and dirt from the organ. Paralysis of these hair-like structures also causes a buildup of mucus and toxic substances, leading to lung congestion. The extra mucus that is produced causes smokers to suffer from the very ubiquitous smoker's cough and chronic bronchitis.
It's also one of the many triggers of asthma, which brings about the narrowing and inflammation of the airways. Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke causes the destruction of the structure of the lung, walls of the airways as well as lung tissue. The result is a condition known as emphysema. Additionally, smoking also leads to cancer of the lung and over 80% lung cancer cases occur due to this habit. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, it is important for you to know about the most common triggers of asthma. Asthma is a medical condition, which is characterised by paroxysmal wheezing respiration dyspnoea. It causes breathing difficulties, tightened chest and coughing. By identifying and reducing your exposure to several asthma triggers, you will be able to manage or control your asthma symptoms and the frequency of your asthma attacks. Here are the most common triggers of asthma you should know about:
Allergies that trigger asthma
Allergies, are common problems and over 80% of people are suffering from asthma and are allergic towards substances like weed pollens, animal dander, dust mites, mould and cockroach particles. Children having large amounts of cockroach droppings in their homes are more likely to develop childhood asthma. Dust exposure may lead to dust mite allergy in asthmatic patients.
Food which triggers asthma
Certain food allergies may lead to isolated asthma, where other symptoms are absent. Patients with food allergies can exhibit asthma as a part of anaphylaxis, which are food induced. The common food items which are associated with allergies include eggs, peanuts, cow milk, soy, fish, wheat, shrimps, salads and fresh fruits. Several food preservatives also trigger asthma. They may include sulfite additives such as potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfate and many others. These are commonly used in food processing and trigger asthma in sensitive people.
Asthma induced by exercise
Strenuous exercise may lead to the narrowing of the airways in maximum people having asthma. Exercise acts as a primary trigger for asthma symptoms in many people. Patients having exercise induced asthma are likely to feel chest tightness accompanied by coughing and breathing difficulties after completing an aerobic workout session. Although the symptoms subside, they may reoccur within some hours. You should warm up properly and slowly before a rigorous workout session to prevent an asthma attack.
People who smoke are more likely to have asthma. If you have asthma and still smoke, the symptoms of wheezing and coughing worsen. Pregnant women who smoke increase the chance of wheezing in their to-be-born babies. You should absolutely quit smoking if you have asthma.
Infections which trigger asthma
Several infections such as cold, bronchitis, flu and sinus may cause asthma attacks. The respiratory infections, which are viral or bacterial, are a common cause and trigger asthma, especially in children. Asthma is also associated with severe heartburn. According to studies, more than 85% people with asthma also suffer from heartburn. This is a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
If you are facing difficulties in breathing, especially in the process of exhaling, you are suffering from emphysema. Emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness. It occurs as a result of several triggers, smoking being the most common one. Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with this condition struggle to exhale, which implies that there is some obstruction in the air flow. This disease has no permanent cure but by quitting smoking, you can stop it from getting worse.
The progression and severity of emphysema occurs with the staging systems. The staging of the condition can help in developing a prognosis.
The Gold emphysema staging system
Gold is a major emphysema staging system created by a group known as the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. The amount of air a patient can exhale forcefully in one second is determined during this stage. It is also referred to as the forced expiratory volume or FEV1.
The staging is as follows:
- Stage 1: Mild emphysema (FEV1 greater than 80% of normal)
- Stage 2: Moderate emphysema (FEV less than 80%, but more than 50% normal)
- Stage 3: Severe emphysema (FEV lesser than 50%, but more than 30% normal)
- Stage 4: Extremely severe emphysema. (FEV lesser than 30% of normal or lesser than 50% normal, with low levels of oxygen in the blood.
The BODE emphysema staging system
- Body mass index (B)
- Airflow limitation or obstruction (O), which is measured by pulmonary function tests
- Breathless or dyspnea (D), which is assessed thoroughly via a questionnaire
- Exercise capacity (E), which is measured to check how long a person with emphysema can walk in a span of six minutes
The prognosis of emphysema is impossible to be determined in any person individually. The staging system helps to identify the severity of the condition, but the future cannot be predicted. Not many studies have been undertaken for the determination of the effects of emphysema on life expectancy. The best research that has been carried out included around 100 people, which is very less. The condition varies largely among people, even if they are in the same stage.
The statistics available on emphysema are not reliable enough for individuals who wish to know their life expectancy. It is considered that if a patient falls in a higher stage, his/her long-term life expectancy is less.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!