Rising levels of air pollution are always in the news and it is a legitimate cause of concern. It has a severe toxic effect on us, and our environment. Factories are popping up in greater frequency than ever before, trees are being cut down to make room for ever-expanding cities and with every family owning cars, pollution is becoming a crisis that is hard to contend with. According to the World Health Organisation, the chief pollutants are carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and lead, which are all emitted from factories and car through their exhausts.
What is the impact of air pollution on the human body?
• Eye irritation
• Cardiovascular diseases
• Skin diseases
• Neuropsychiatric disorders
The organ that is most affected by air pollution is the lungs. With pollution on the rise, more and more people are complaining of respiratory ailments. WHO has already proved that air pollutants are actually a carcinogen.
What are the symptoms of respiratory ailments?
The most common symptoms are-
Homoeopathy for the treatment of lung diseases-
Homoeopathy is a boon to the field of medicine and has been in practice for several decades now. Homoeopathy believes that lung diseases are a manifestation of an innate problem and if the problem is detected and eradicated, the symptoms will dissipate as well. Homoeopathy cures lung diseases by-
• Preventing further damage to the lungs
• Preventing side-effects from harming the body by adopting a natural and holistic approach
• Reducing reliance on steroids and bronchodilators
There are different types of chronic lung ailments and homoeopathy uses 25 compounds in different combinations to treat each of them. The best part about Homeopathy treatment is that it leaves no adverse effect on your body, unlike conventional methods of treatment.
Surveys reveal that three fourth of India’s population is affected by air pollution. If you feel that you might have contracted a respiratory ailment, consider consulting a homoeopathy doctor.
Pulmonology is the branch of science dealing with respiratory problems and related medicines. Respiratory Problems have become very common among people with increased pollution and dust particles in the air. Some of the most common lung diseases are:
It is a very common disease nowadays with many people suffering from it. In this condition, people have inflamed bronchial tubes which become sensitive, causing difficulty in breathing. The problem gets aggravated by smoking, air pollution, and chemical sprays. People suffering from it, complain of a dry cough, wheezing, and chest tightening.
The condition may also be triggered by allergies and dust particles. Doctors generally recommend taking an inhaler to asthma patients. It generally develops during childhood and progresses with age.
2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a disease used to denote multiple respiratory problems including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It generally affects the bronchial tubes and causes inflammation of the airways that lead to the production of sputum (excess mucus). Other symptoms include shortness of breath and coughing. The generation of mucus also leaves people more prone to having infections.
According to doctors, it is difficult to identify COPD because the symptoms are associated with old age and a general decline in health. People generally develop COPD as early as 30 to 40 years of age. Moreover, the condition is aggravated due to excessive smoking.
Treatments include quitting smoking, bronchodilator therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. It is a very serious disease and is not reversible like asthma. It generally worsens with time.
3. Chronic Bronchitis
It is one of the types of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and is generally associated with the formation of excess mucus in the lungs. This results in severe coughing. It is treated the same way as COPD. However, people also may develop acute bronchitis which is an infection caused by too much mucus in airways and subsides with medications.
It is a serious respiratory illness that is one of the types of COPD and is caused by smoking. Smoking damages the lungs to the point where the patient may have difficulty in exhaling air. They may need the help of an oxygen mask to help them in breathing.
5. Lung Cancer
One of the worst respiratory problems to have and is caused by irregular cell growth that results in tumors that interferes with the functioning of the lungs. The problem is aggravated by excessive smoking and air pollution. Symptoms include coughing up of blood, change in voices, vigorous breathing.
6. Influenza and Pneumonia
These are very common lung problems occurring among people. Influenza is a viral infection that causes damages to the lungs. Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs caused by a bacteria or virus. In cases of pneumonia, there is an accumulation of mucus or fluid in the lungs that prevent air from reaching the blood. Symptoms may include coughing, fever, shaking and difficulty in breathing. Both these diseases are curable with the help of medicines but people who smoke excessively may suffer more than others.
These were some of the most common respiratory problems that can be seen among people. The first step towards treatment and prevention is to go to a doctor and consult him with the symptoms you are experiencing.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, abbreviated as COPD, is an umbrella term which refers to the group of lung infections and diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and diseases of the small airways. Most people feel breathlessness, which is caused due to impairment of gaseous exchange that happens because of prolonged damage to the lungs over a period of time.
Symptoms such as fatigue, reduced tolerance to exercise, muscular dysfunction, breathlessness even after simple tasks like walking, anxiety, panic, depression, and mood disorders are associated with major chronic disorders of the respiratory system.
Physiotherapy is an effective intervention to treat patients suffering from COPD. It is the part of a formal supervised, multidisciplinary, and an intensive Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program that helps in treating manifestations of the conditions like COPD and Asthma. It consists of exercises to improve and maintain good lung capacity, resistance training, aerobic exercises, and support to behavioural and lifestyle changes for promoting self- efficacy. Your physiotherapist will choose from the different techniques and positions used to remove the unwanted excess sputum from the lungs and airways. The main purpose of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation is to help in improving the psychological and physical conditions of the pulmonary patients, along with training them for health enhancement techniques. Also, it should be noted that Pulmonary Rehabilitation is the cornerstone of care for patients suffering from COPD that uses integrated care by exploring underutilized opportunities.
Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation:
There are well-researched evidences of the improvement in the capacity of exercising, less breathlessness and fatigue, better control over condition, and an overall improvement in the quality of life of the patients suffering from COPD and Asthma.
Also, undergoing Pulmonary Rehabilitation lowers the rate of admissions, and re-admissions in hospitals due to recurrence of the symptoms and the related conditions.
It has also been reported that if Pulmonary Rehabilitation is properly undertaken, there is nearly no need for systematic health review to check COPD.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation, being a comprehensive program, helps in restoring fitness and easy breathing through breathing techniques, nutrition, exercise, relaxation, emotional support, medications, self-management, and other strategies for a better life, mainly by helping the lungs and the heart to function better.
How It Works?
Exercise is the key to any Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program for helping the lungs and the heart to function better and adjust to the condition. Some of the following exercises can be recommended based on the medical history of the patient:
1. Lower Body Exercise focuses on the workout of legs via running on a treadmill or climbing the staircase for rigorous training.
2. Upper Body Exercise includes working up the muscles of the arm and the chest by tasks as simple as lifting arms against gravity.
3. Breathing Exercise helps people with weak breathing and increasing their breathing and lung capacity.
4. Strength Training helps in building endurance and better stamina through activities like weight-lifting.
Other than exercise, Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program focusses on helping patients build an understanding of their situation and amend their lifestyles accordingly. This includes helping them understand their medication plan, teaching them to use their inhalers right, quitting smoking, consuming a healthy and balanced diet, and other methods as may be suitable based on their specific condition. Also, they are made aware of their symptoms so that if there is any recurrence, it can be immediately reported to the concerned health professional. They are trained through counseling to manage and deal with panic, anxiety, and depression caused due to their condition.
Take Away: Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is an effective intervention and the cornerstone of care for improving the psychological and physical conditions of the pulmonary patients, along with training them for health enhancement techniques. It helps in treating manifestations of the conditions like COPD and Asthma.
When you suffer from dry, chronic cough along with shortness of breath, it is normal to get worried and annoyed. You will want to know the cause and the cure. Note that it might be due to a condition called the interstitial lung disease.
Including almost more than 200 different lung conditions, interstitial lung disease refers to the inflammation and scarring caused in the lungs, which leads to less oxygen entering the blood. Mainly affecting the interstitial part of the anatomic structure of the lungs, which is responsible for the oxygen flow into the blood, interstitial lung disease can damage other parts of the lungs too, such as the lung lining, the airways or the blood vessels. The following is a brief account of the types, causes, symptoms, and treatment of ILD.
Interstitial lung disease can be of various kinds, though all of them leads to the thickening of the lung’s interstitial part. Some of the types of ILD are
While some of the ILD types are short-lived, some are irreversible and chronic.
The primary causes of interstitial lung disease are viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Regular exposure to inhalable irritants such as talc, silica dust, asbestos, coal dust or any other kind of metal dust, bird proteins of pigeons, chickens or any exotic birds, grain dust, etc. can also cause interstitial lung disease. Though rare, sometimes it is the intake of particular drugs that may cause ILD. For the majority of interstitial lung diseases, the exact cause is not always known.
Both men and women of any age can develop this disease, and it is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and autoimmune disease. Some of the primary symptoms and signs of interstitial lung disease are nonproductive dry cough, shortness of breath, and considerable weight loss. While for some types of ILDs the symptoms develop slowly and gradually over months, for others, such as the acute interstitial pneumonitis or interstitial pneumonia, the symptoms develop more rapidly, within days or a few hours.
For identifying the presence of ILD, doctors usually rely upon chest X-ray, CT scan or computed tomography, pulmonary function testing, high-resolution CT scan, and lung biopsy. In case no apparent cause behind the disease is found from the tests, a patient's history of being exposed to certain chemical environments is then taken into consideration.
Depending on the type and severity of the disease the treatment options vary from one to another. While for some taking prescribed drugs can offer a solution to prevent the lungs from deteriorating further, for some a complete lung transplant may become the only solution. Treatments like pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy can also be ideal, based on the condition of the lungs.
Thus, if one is constantly exposed to lung irritants and experiences the symptoms of interstitial lung disease for more than eight weeks, he/she must seek the advice of a pulmonologist without delay as the condition may lead to severe complications when left untreated.
Silicosis is a lung disorder that develops as a result of exposure to dust, which has silica (chemical compounds) content. Silicosis significantly makes you prone to other serious health disorders. It is an incurable disorder and a prescribed dosage of medications in the form of cough syrups or antibiotics can help in the regulation of the symptoms. Inhalers are also useful to clear the blocked air passages. In extreme cases, the doctors might suggest a transplant of the lung to eradicate silicosis.
Causes: Silicosis is caused primarily due to a long- term exposure (usually 5-15 years) to silica. But a short-term exposure (for a few weeks or months) can also result in silicosis, which tends to worsen considerably as time progresses, if not diagnosed in its early stages. Silica is a natural dust particle, which is found in abundance in rocks, sand, bricks or concrete. Once silica gets into your body through inhalation, these particles tend to damage the tissues of the lungs by inflicting minor incisions.
This considerably disfigures the lungs, thereby making the whole process of breathing rather troublesome. Long-term exposure to silica might further lead to lung cancer. People who work in mines, glass or asphalt manufacturing industries, iron and steel industries and construction sites are at increased risks of developing this condition.
Symptoms: The Symptoms of Silicosis begin mildly, but tend to worsen with time. The symptoms of Silicosis are as follows:
Silicosis might make you susceptible to other infections related to the respiratory systems such as tuberculosis.
Prevention: In order to prevent Silicosis, you should wear suitable protective gear and a respirator on your face while working in a place which has risks of silica exposure.
Lung diseases are some of the most common diseases suffered by human beings throughout the world. Smoking and infections are responsible for most lung diseases. The lungs perform one of the most important functions of the body. It is also one of the most active organs in the human body and hence lung problems can arise due to problems in any other part of the body. Some of the most common and infectious lung diseases are discussed below.
Asthma is a common long term disease which is characterized by reversible airflow obstruction and bronchospasm. The symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath and tightness of chest. These symptoms may occur frequently during a day and depend on the person, it may become worse during the night or during a certain exercise.
Pneumonia is another common lung problem which is suffered due to inflammation in the microscopic air sacs in the lungs known as alveoli. Symptoms of pneumonia include dry cough, chest pain, breathing problem and fever. Pneumonia is caused most commonly by viruses or bacteria. It is also caused by certain medications and conditions which are popularly known as autoimmune diseases. There are a number of vaccines available to prevent certain types of pneumonia. Other methods include hand washing and refraining from smoking.
Tuberculosis is a very infectious disease which is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but it has been known to affect other parts of the body as well. Symptoms of tuberculosis include cough containing sputum with blood, night sweats, fever and weight loss. Air is an active medium for spreading tuberculosis. This happens when people who already have tuberculosis sneeze, cough or speak. Infection occurs more in those who have HIV/AIDS or those who smoke. Prevention of tuberculosis includes staying away and keeping those who are at high risk, early detection and treatment and vaccination.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which affects the lungs. It affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, swollen abdomen, cough, chest pain, weight loss and general lethargy. Mesothelioma is caused mainly due to exposure to asbestos. Those people who mine asbestos, produce products from asbestos, work with asbestos products are at high risk. Mesothelioma also results from genetical problems and due to infection caused by the simian virus 40.
5. Pulmonary Embolism
This is a disease caused due to blockage of an artery in the lungs by a substance which has travelled from another part of the body by the bloodstream. Symptoms of this disease include chest pain, breath shortness and coughing up of blood. There may also be signs of a blood clot in the legs.
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 of 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.
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. 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:
The BODE emphysema staging system
The condition affects several abilities. The BODE index, an acronym for BMI (body mass index), obstruction, dyspnea (breathlessness), exercise capacity (health index) is another staging system for emphysema in which the emphysema’s impact on several areas of life are measured. They include the following:
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.
Pulmonary Function Tests or PFTs are a set of tests that are used to determine, measure or observe the functioning of the lungs. The most common pulmonary function tests used are spirometry, gas diffusion, and lung plethysmography.
Highlights of pulmonary function tests
What does a Pulmonary Function Test measure?
Pulmonary function tests would not only check how well the person is breathing but also how effectively the lungs are able to conduct oxygen to the rest of the body. In addition to airflow, these tests would measure the size and volume of the lung and lung diffusion.
These tests can also be used to measure
When are Pulmonary Function Tests recommended?
A physician might recommend a patient undergo a PFT as part of a routine physical check-up. This test would be advised if the patient is experiencing any symptoms associated with lung problems or disorders such as asthma, respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD. A doctor would also use these tests to monitor and check whether a certain treatment prescribed for lung disease or condition is working effectively.
Pulmonary function tests are safe as they are non-invasive but it is important to follow the instructions of the doctor or technician before, after and during the test. It is important to make your doctor aware of any surgeries, respiratory infections, chest pains or heart attacks that you might have experienced before the test. If you are taking any medications you might need to follow the advice of the doctor as to whether you can take them before the test.
Your doctor would also advise you on how to prepare for the test such as not eating a large meal, avoiding caffeine and wearing loose-fitting clothes. If you have any doubts, concerns or queries discuss them with your doctor.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to a group of progressive lung diseases that cause increasing breathlessness. Emphysema is one of these diseases. It damages the air sacs in the lungs, making it progressively harder for the body to get the oxygen it needs.