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Understanding Emphysema

Emphysema is a long-term, chronic disease. People with emphysema have breathing difficulty, especially with exhaling the air out of the lungs. The most common cause for emphysema is smoking and quitting smoking reduces the progression of the disease.

Curios about what you can find in a cigarette, beside trouble breathing?

content of cigarette

Emphysema is part of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What happens in emphysema?

Emphysema is diagnosed when the sensitive walls of the air sacs in the lungs are destroyed and usually it is irreversible; this damage occurs usually because of the toxins in cigarette smoke. The air become trapped in air pockets in the lungs and lungs become enlarged and breathing more difficult. They may break, damage and form scar tissue. During a lung function test, a person with emphysema will show a far longer time in emptying lungs than a person without emphysema.

Emphysema sufferers feel as there is an obstruction in emptying the lungs at exhalation and emphysema is the main form of COPD. The other form of COPD is chronic bronchitis.

Smoking is a major cause of emphysema but is not the only one. The deficiency of Alpha-1 antitrypsin is another cause found in about 3% of people suffering of emphysema, beside second hand smoke, air pollution, factory fumes and silica dust. Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a natural protein that circulates into blood and its main function is to keep the white cell from damaging normal tissue. From normal presence of alpha-1 antitrypsin white cells distinguish between normal tissue and invaders cells in infections.

What are the symptoms in emphysema?

There may be no symptoms for many years, but as disease progresses, shortness of breath (dyspnoea) may slowly develop. In early stages of emphysema dyspnoea may be present only with physical effort and later it may be present at rest as well. There may be recurring infections, pneumonia, chest infections, influenza and cold as the respiratory immunity is compromise.

What is the treatment in emphysema?

Emphysema is not a curable disease. However, symptoms can be relieved and slowed down its progression, with proper treatment.

            Quit smoking – smoking is the main cause and stopping smoking will help considerable to slow down progression

            Bronchodilators – such as Salbutamol, that relieves constriction in the air ways, breathing difficulty and coughing.

            Steroid sprays – helps with shortness of breath; however, they must be used with caution because of the great side effects, especially in long-term usage. Side effects include weakened bones or osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, cataracts and diabetes.

            Antibiotic therapy – recurrent chest infections require repetitive antibiotic treatments. These also have significant side effects in many people and decrease respiratory immunity.

            Natural therapy – Of great use here are natural therapies, such as breathing exercises, rehabilitation techniques and home salt therapy. These help in strengthening the lungs and make breathing easy. The aerosol salt particles in home salt therapy help to clean the excess mucus production, reduce the inflammation and fight bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Offering long-term exposure during night, it reduces the recurring episodes of lung and chest infections and provides quicker recovery from pneumonia. Home salt therapy helps the body's natural healing force to fight better against emphysema and slows the progression of the disease.  

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Understanding and Managing Cystic Fibrosis

Understanding and Managing Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis, also known as mucoviscidosis is a genetic disorder where the autosomal recessive gene is affected. The disease affects the lungs, heart, pancreas, liver and intestines. It is characterized by abnormal transport of sodium and chloride through epithelium, making the secretions thick and viscous.

cystic fibrosis affected organs

The name refers to scarring (fibrosis) and cyst formation within the pancreas that was first documented in 1930s. Due to the abnormal secretions, lung infections are frequent and breathing difficulty is the most serious symptom. Other cystic fibrosis symptoms are poor growth, enlarged heart, sinus infections, respiratory pulmonary diseases, digestive problems, infertility and abnormal pancreas function.

The first indication of cystic fibrosis are salty skin, poor growth and weight gain despite normal food intake, thick sticky mucus, frequent respiratory infections, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

Lungs and sinus infections result from clogging because of the thick sticky mucus, reduce ciliary mobility and inflammation.

Inflammation and repeated infections cause structural changes in the lungs leading to many symptoms; in early stages, constant coughing, increase phlegm production and decrease resistance to effort and physical exercise. In later stages, when structural changes in the lungs and airways occur, there are breathing difficulties and difficulty in getting enough oxygen to the blood (hypoxia). Coughing up blood, recurrent pneumonia, high blood pressure in the lungs, respiratory failure, heart failure, are other serious symptoms.

The para nasal passages and sinuses may also be affected due to the thick mucus and sinuses infections are common, together with their symptomatology, headache, facial pain, fever, nasal drainage. Nasal polyps are also very common to develop as a result of multiple sinus infections. Cardio-respiratory complications are the most cause of death in people with cystic fibrosis.

The lungs of persons with cystic fibrosis are infected and colonised with bacteria from an early age. These types of bacteria and their characteristics change and develop in time in persons with cystic fibrosis, because they have a perfect environment in the thick viscous mucus and they develop resistance to commonly used antibiotics. More often these types of flourishing bacteria are spread between different individuals with cystic fibrosis. People with cystic fibrosis have to be aware of this danger and avoid spreading these dangerous strains of bacteria among other cystic fibrosis sufferers. In healthcare facilities, people with cystic fibrosis should be isolated from one another and strict hygiene should be maintained to avoid spreading strains of bacteria among them.

Beside uncommon strains of bacteria, different types of fungi and / or yeasts can chronically colonised the airways, some of them found almost exclusively in patients with cystic fibrosis. Defective mucociliary clearance favorites the growth of these fungi / yeasts colonies, together with prolonged antibiotic and corticosteroid therapies that also favorite their growth.

The respiratory complications can be reduced using salt therapy. Hypertonic saline solution is used in hospitals to help in clearing the thick stagnant mucus and avoid infection. The long-term salt aerosol exposure, in home salt therapy, provides exposure during the night sleep, when the micro particles of salt slowly deposit on the respiratory mucosa. It helps to make the thick mucus more fluid, unclogs the airways and reduces the inflammation. Salt is known to have bactericide properties and helps in fighting bacterial infections, beside its mucolytic and anti inflammatory effect. Using a home salt therapy device will create a seashore microenvironment in your own house.

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Understanding and Treating COPD

Understanding and Treating COPD

COPD stands for "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" and if you have it you need to know that it cannot be cured,  but it can be managed and pretty well controlled. Having COPD should not keep you from having an enjoyable life.

COPD  symptoms include many debilitating symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough and poor lung function. Under its umbrella the term COPD includes other chronic respiratory diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In chronic bronchitis the lining of the breathing tubes become inflamed and lots of mucus is being produced and coughed up. With emphysema, the walls of the air sacs in the lungs are broken down and more air is trapped inside. Many people have both, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

As we age, our lung function slowly declines each year, but for some people there is a rapid decline and this is happening especially in people who smoke cigarettes. Smoking is not the only important factor in COPD. Exposure to irritants and fumes, increased air pollution or dusty environment can also play an important role in developing COPD. Some people may also inherit a genetic predisposition in developing COPD.

How is COPD diagnosed

Early diagnosis and treatment makes a difference in managing COPD. At the beginning the only sign can be a dry cough or a mild breathing difficulty, that usually people attribute them to aging or being out of shape. Breathing difficulty is not a normal sign of aging and people should consult their doctor. As a result of ignoring symptoms, people with COPD are not being diagnosed until the disease is advanced. Early symptoms of COPD can be:

wheezing when exhale

shortness of breath or air hunger or heaviness while breathing

increased sputum or phlegm that is usually coughed up

persistent cough

– felling tired, fatigued or lacking energy

– trouble sleeping, restlessness or not rested in the morning

– needing for more pillows or sleeping in a chair to avoid shortness of breath

– swelling of the ankles due to low blood oxygenation

The goals in COPD treatment are:

  • relieving symptoms

  • slowing the progress of the disease

  • preventing and treating complications

  • and improving well-being

These will include some lifestyle changes. First step is to quit smoking and avoid lung irritants, second-hand smoke, fumes or toxic substances. Quitting smoking can be difficult, so you may consider joining a group, ask your family and friends to support you in your effort to quit.

You may have trouble eating enough due to the breathing difficulty and fatigue. You may need to follow a nutrition plan to get all the nutrients that you need. You may need to eat smaller and more frequent meals, rest before eating and supplement with vitamins and minerals.

You may find it hard to have physical activity but this can strengthen the muscles that help breathing and improve wellbeing.

Take care of the air you breathe! You can use air filters to filter the air for dust and other pollutants. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier, depending what is needed to keep normal level of humidity in the indoor air.   

Consider using home salt therapy that will help in cleaning your respiratory system and expel the sputum, reduce inflammation and help you breathe easier. The salt particles also help in cleaning the indoor air you breathe.

The usual medication in COPD includes:

  • Bronchodilators – help to relax the smooth muscles around airways and helps you to breathe easier. Depending on the severity of your COPD, this medication can be short-acting or long-acting. The short-acting bronchodilators are prescribed in mild COPD and use it only when symptoms occur.

  • Glucocorticosteroids (steroids) – help to reduce the inflammation in the respiratory system; usually they are prescribed together with a bronchodilator for a trial period of few months to check if the addition of steroid helps to relieve breathing problems.

In severe COPD, with low level of oxygen in the blood, oxygen therapy can help restore the oxygen level and improve over all condition.   

People with COPD are at higher risk for pneumonia and your doctor may suggest a pneumococcal vaccine. Home salt therapy is of great help here because the salt particles help in cleaning the mucus and have anti-bacterial properties; stagnant mucus or sputum / phlegm increase the risk in developing bacterial infection.

Pulmonary rehabilitation or rehab is program that helps you improve breathing and wellbeing, through physical and breathing exercises, disease management training and nutritional and psychological counselling. The program involves nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and dietitians.   

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Understanding Respiratory Allergies – Diagnose and Treatment

How are Allergies Diagnosed?

A respiratory allergy can start with a common stuffy nose and eventually progress in time to coughing and difficult breathing.

When visiting a doctor, you will get a series of questions to identify the cause. You would be asked about your exposure and reaction to different allergens, personal and family full medical history to identify allergies that may run in your family and exclude other disorders with similar symptoms.  The doctor may ask you to pay close attention for a period of time to possible allergenic factors and reactions.

The doctor will choose a testing method, most common an allergic skin test. This is done on allergenic groups, such as : food allergies, insect sting, dust/mites, molds-family, common drugs (penicillin-family antibiotics, etc).  A small amount of allergenic substance is scratched on the skin, and after half an hour the doctor looks for a reaction – swelling, itchiness and redness at the site of scratch. That indicates an allergic reaction to the specific allergen scratched on the skin. The doctor may also ask for blood test to look for specific blood markers, such as IgE antibodies associated with allergic reaction.

Before the skin test, the doctor may measure the lung functions and repeat this after inhaling an anti-inflammatory drug, to determine the presence of an inflammatory reaction in the respiratory system.   

allergy

What are the Treatments for Allergies?

The most effective treatment for allergies is to avoid the allergenic triggers. This can be difficult sometimes because some of them cannot be avoided (such as outside mold found all year around in the air) or are not clearly identified.  

The most common medications for allergies are antihistamines which block the body overreaction to allergens. In severe allergic reactions, anti-inflammatory steroids are usually prescribed and in emergency situations, epinephrine injections (epipen) are used to bring quick relief and restore normal breathing.

allergic reaction

The allergic reactions can manifest as skin allergies, respiratory allergies or even other body general symptoms, such as diarrhea, headaches, etc.

Skin allergies are known as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and contact dermatitis.  They are treated usually topical, with hydrocortisone or other anti-inflammatory steroid, or sometimes orally.  

Respiratory allergies can manifest in different ways. Sometimes the symptoms are localized only in the upper respiratory system, mostly nasal passages, but they can progress with time and affect the lung functions as well. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis, when the nasal passages are affected, is usually treated with nasal corticosteroid spray on long term.

When the lung functions are affected as a result of allergens, allergic asthma is diagnosed. The symptoms here include: coughing, difficult breathing or shortness of breath, low oxygen level in the blood, as a result of allergic inflammation on the respiratory system.  Read more here about types of  asthma and treatment.

For food, insect stings and drug allergies the best treatment is to avoid the food and drugs that cause an allergic reaction. If the reaction is not strong the doctor may prescribe antihistamines or topical creams to relieve the itchiness and slow down the reaction.  In severe reactions the doctor will prescribe epinephrine injections to prevent an anaphylactic shock.

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More about asthma

Find more about asthma, symptoms and pathology, treatment and natural tips to control asthma. Did you know that including turmeric in your diet can make a difference in your asthma?
There are also other natural ways how you can relieve asthma symptoms… read more here: https://www.salinetherapy.com/terminology/asthma/

Health benefits of turmeric

 

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What is bronchiectasis?

Find what is bronchiectasis, causes, symptoms, types of disease, anatomical changes that occur, prevention and treatment. Find more about natural ways to get relief and improve symptomatology… read more here: https://www.salinetherapy.com/terminology/bronchiectasis/

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BBC NEWS – Salt mines helps asthmatics

BBC News published an article about the help of speleotherapy (salt therapy) in respiratory diseases. People travel to salt mines in Ukraine and spend several hours a day breathing the salty air in a salt mine, 300 meters (~990ft) below the surface. They said they find great relief in their breathing difficulties… read more here: BBC NEWS – Salt mines helps asthmatics 

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Salt therapy methods of treatment

Find more about different salt therapy methods of treatment, distinguish between them and be able to take an informed decision for your respiratory condition

Salt therapy has been used long ago and was first documented in the 19th century when a Polish physician at a salt mine noticed the health effects on miners. Many salt sanatoriums were settled in old salt mines all over East European countries… more here "Salt Therapy – from History to Modern Approaches"

Since travelling is costly, other salt therapy avenues were developed to fulfill the need for inexpensive, convenient and effective salt therapy. Here is a comparison analysis of the existing salt therapy methods:

1. Artificial Salt Rooms – usually they use a halogenerator to create very fine rock salt particles that are dispersed into the salt room for breathing. The walls and floors of the salt room are also covered in rock salt. A session is about 1 hour in length and 2-3 or more people are relaxing or exercising in a room while breathing the salt aerosol. The cost of a session can be anywhere between $30-$60 and at least 6 sessions would be recommended to have results. Being exposed for 45 minutes – 1 hour at a time the salt aerosol concentration is relatively high but controlled by halogenerator.

There are artificial salt rooms that do not have a halogenerator. The salt aerosol is created by brushing a salt brick with a steel brush to generate fine particles of salt. The concentration of salt aerosol here is usually lower than in halogenerator operated rooms. Exposure and cost are the same. Therapeutic effect is lower here than in a halogenerator salt room due to the fact that length of exposure and aerosol concentration is not correlated here. 

Pros:
– easy to use – just breathe and relax
– Short but intense therapy
– Controlled environment
– some may have physical exercise that is beneficial for getting the salt particles deep into the lungs

Cons:
– Expensive $30-$60 per one hour visit and minimum 6-12 visits needed for lasting results
– Travel to site
– No privacy! Most salt rooms are small and have to be shared with other persons, mostly being sick; 

2. Saltair, home salt therapy device – is a small device that uses ultrasonic technology to create and release microscopic salt particles into the indoor air for breathing. The salt aerosol is created from a saline solution and is similar with seashore aerosol or salt mine aerosol. It is recommended to be used during the night sleep, offering 7-8 hours exposure, absolutely necessary in chronic respiratory system diseases, for lasting results. The concentration of salt aerosol is correlated with the length of exposure and home use. No salt deposits will be noticed on room furniture and no bad effects on electronics. Sodium sensitive people are not to be concerned because there is no significant apport of salt in the body.

Pros:
– Use in comfort of home, easy to use, no active involvement of the user, no side effects and effective
– Inexpensive –  $99.99 a Saltair device that will last at least during 1 year warranty; lifetime span is 2 years.
– Can be used safely and effectively by all family including infants, elderly and animals
– Can be used from prevention to chronic respiratory diseases
– Offers long term exposure, at least 7-8 hours during night sleep, essential in chronic respiratory diseases
– Constant concentration of salt aerosol every night, similar with the seashore aerosol, very safe in all cases
– All people in a room/ bedroom can benefit from a single device

Cons:
– Upkeep. Needs to be cleaned occasionally and refilled once a week
– less portable than salt inhaler but can travel with it

3. Salt Inhalers – are small hand-held devices made from plastic or ceramic, filled with rock salt. The rock salt inside generates micro particles of salt by rubbing against each other and inhaler walls. You have to breathe through mouth and exhale through nose, starting from 15 minutes a day and increase to 1-2 hours a day.

Pros:
– Small and portable; fits in a pocket
– inexpensive $35-$38
Cons:
– Sodium sensitive people should avoid shaking the salt inhaler every time they breathe through and use it for extended periods of time, especially in ceramic salt inhalers where more salt particles will be generated by shaking. 
– They are not suitable for small children, under the age of 5 because it needs active involvement of the user – hold it and breathe through it in a specific way.
– Difficult for children over 5 and even for some adults
– Does not offer enough exposure in chronic respiratory diseases

4. Salt Lamps – made from different rock salt, they come in many colors and shapes. They have an esthetic look and provide nice, smooth light, looking good in a living room or bedroom. It is claimed that they releases negative ions of salt once they get heated by the light bulb inside. However, it is known that natural rock salt naturally emit negative ions of sodium chloride.

Pros:
– Have an esthetic look and provide relaxing, smooth light at night
– Have amazing visual impact on people
– Use natural rock salt known to have beneficial relaxing effects

Cons:
– Not enough salt ions to make a difference in respiratory diseases

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Eczema

Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a very common disease today, together with allergic reactions in contact dermatitis. Distinguish between allergic reactions, eczema and contact dermatitis, see symptoms and natural ways to help healing…. read more here https://www.salinetherapy.com/terminology/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/

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Asthma symptoms, causes and treatment

Find more about asthma symptoms, allergy and immunology, allergy and asthma treatment, from the natural health viewpoint and alongside classical medical treatment. Find natural health tips and how to manage your asthma or allergy and be able to reduce the side effects of steroids. Read more here: https://www.salinetherapy.com/terminology/asthma/