Posted on

Common Causes for Shortness of Breath

Feeling breathlessness due to stuffy nose is a common health problem for some of us. While there are multiple reasons behind this issue, we often get confused about finding the right reason causing this discomfort. Although in reality this breathlessness can happen due to multiple reasons, we mostly apprehend asthma as the universal trigger. As a result we fail to get relief if we try self-medication.

The most viable solution for finding the reason behind the problem of shortness of breath is consulting a doctor and to get a thorough medical investigation done. It is commonly observed that some other common reasons exist, which may cause respiratory problems. To be more precise, there are two mechanical processes involved in smooth breathing: one is ventilation and the other is respiration. Problem in any of these two processes may cause breathing problems. Let’s check here what may cause the irregularity.

Cause 1 of shortness of breath: shortage of air supply causes discomfort

When our body demands more air than usual supply it may cause shortness of breath. There are a few common reasons behind this problem. These are

  • Strenuous workout session,
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden shock creating panic,
  • Due to severe infection in body (sepsis)

The common similarity between all these triggers is due to some situation the body suffers from increased demand of oxygen or there is short supply of air. Supplemental oxygen may be one of the most effective remedies but sometimes unless the main reason is treated, patients suffering from shortness of breath cannot get complete relief.

Cause 2 of shortness of breath: inadequate airflow

The problem of inadequate air flow is usually caused due to certain health disorder.This may happen due to certain malfunctioning of organs involved in respiratory system or sometimes some disease may cause this unstable condition of airflow. Common diseases or conditions causing inadequate air supply,

  • Congestion problem like asthma or COPD
  • Swelling of the airways, like pneumonia, congestive heart failure (CHF).
  • Copd_versus_healthy_lung-300x253

In both cases immediate medical intervention will restore normalcy.

Cause 3 of shortness of breath: problem in carrying oxygen in bloodstream

Some unusual situations may occur where oxygen cannot reach from lungs to all parts of the body, especially in brain. Mainly two types of health disorders may cause breathing trouble like this unstable condition,

  • Poisoning due to carbon dioxide, which prevents RBC (red blood cells) to hold oxygen from carrying it to the body organs,
  • The problem of severe anemia creates lack of blood cells required to carry oxygen.

Cause 4 of Shortness of Breath: Lack of Oxygen in the Air

Sometimes lack of oxygen in air may cause acute shortness of breath. For instance, in higher altitude due to thinness in air at time it becomes difficult to get adequate supply of oxygen while breathing. Similarly in a confined space, due to inadequate or no supply of fresh air, causes breathing trouble for people staying in this no-oxygen zone.

These are the common reasons for respiratory discomfort. Right medication and medical intervention may ease the discomfort faster.

Posted on

Understanding and Fighting Hay Fever

Hay Fever known in medicine as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic inflammation of the nasal mucosa and nasal airways to pollens of any kind of plants, including those used to make hay. The symptoms are similar to those of a common cold or flu: stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, inflammation of the nasal passages, sinusitis, breathing difficulty, increased clear watery mucus.

Allergic rhinitis refers generally to an allergic reaction caused by any type of allergen, such us pollen, dust, air pollution, animal dander (shed skin and hair), chemicals, etc.   

 

Allergy - Hay Fever - Allergic Rhinitis

Individuals with a sensitive immune system react to these allergens once they are inhaled. The allergens trigger the production of antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) in such individuals, this causing the release of histamines and other chemicals, resulting in the allergic symptoms described above.

Allergies are very common today and increasing each year. Heredity, developing itself in decrease immunity with each generation, and environmental pollution contribute to a predisposition to allergies. Western countries are more affected and the trend is growing.

Hay fever is usually caused by pollen of specific seasonal plants, most common in spring. However, it is not unusual to suffer from hay fever throughout the year. The pollen that causes hay fever varies by regions and between individuals. The most predominant pollen is the tiny, almost invisible pollen from plants that are pollinated by wind and not those pollinated by insects. Those pollinated by insects have large pollens which are not airborne being too heavy.  

In Japan, the most commonly allergic pollen comes from two native Japanese tree species, used in massive reforestation after the World War II, cryptomeria and Japanese cypress trees.  

In North America, the most common allergic pollen is ragweed, late summer and fall.

What is the treatment in hay fever?… How are allergies diagnosed?
The goal is to prevent and reduce the symptoms in hay fever or allergic rhinitis, as there is not a real understanding of the cause of allergic reaction in western medicine.

Avoiding the allergen is the most effective measure, if it can be applied. To control symptoms, doctors prescribe intranasal corticosteroids, associated or not with oral antihistamines and decongestants. Long term treatment with corticosteroids is not recommended due to the side-effects of prolonged steroid therapy.

Nasal irrigation with saline solution can also help to wipe-off the allergens and clear the nasal passages.

Desensitization to allergens, by immunotherapy or allergy shots, can have some results if it is given for one full year, but it is discontinued if there is no improvement after five years.

Desensitization and increased immunity of respiratory mucosa to allergen have been seen in prolonged aerosol salt therapy. Using home salt therapy on a daily basis, for 7-8 hours a day, for at least three years, greatly improves the respiratory immunity to infections and allergens.  

Complications
Nasal allergy
due to its chronic nature, can cause recurrent sinusitis, malformation of the nasal passages, nasal polyps, otitis media and hearing problems, orthodontic problems and there is a high risk in developing allergic asthma, as the sensitive area grows from the nasal passages to lower respiratory tract.

 

 

Posted on

Understanding Emphysema

Emphysema is a long-term, respiratory 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. Quitting smoking reduces the progression of the disease. This is the most efficient emphysema treatment.

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

cigarette content and emphysema

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 this is irreversible. This damage usually occurs because of the toxins in the cigarette smoke. The air becomes trapped in lung air pockets, enlarge the air sacs and breathing becomes more difficult. These air sacs 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 healthy person. He will feel an obstruction at exhalation. Emphysema is the main disease under the COPD umbrella, followed by chronic bronchitis.

Smoking is a major cause of emphysema but is not the only one. Another factor is also the deficiency of Alpha-1 antitrypsin found in about 3% of people suffering of emphysema. Second hand smoke, air pollution, factory fumes and silica dust are all causes of emphysema. Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a natural protein that circulates in the blood stream. Its main function is to keep the white cells from damaging normal tissue. A normal presence of alpha-1 antitrypsin enables the white cells to distinguish between normal tissue and invaders cells in infections.

What are the symptoms in emphysema?

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

What is the treatment in emphysema?

Emphysema is not a curable disease. The main treatment is focused on managing the disease, slowing its progression and increasing the well-being of the patient. With proper treatment and changes in lifestyle, these are very achievable goals.

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

Bronchodilators – relieve constriction in the air ways, breathing difficulty and coughing

Steroid sprays – help with shortness of breath and reduce inflammation. Side effects include weakened bones or osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, cataracts and diabetes. They must be used with caution!

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

Natural therapies – breathing exercises, rehabilitation techniques and home salt therapy. These help in strengthening the lungs, clear the secretions and improve breathing. Home salt therapy is inspired by the seashore aerosol. The salt aerosol helps to clean the excess mucus production, reduces the inflammation and strengthens immunity. It increases blood oxygenation and fights bacterial, fungal and viral infections.  It reduces the recurring lung and chest infections and provides quicker recovery from pneumonia. Home salt therapy helps the body’s natural healing force to better fight emphysema and slows the progression of the disease.

Posted on

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. Managing cystic fibrosis symptoms can be very difficult for most sufferers.

managing cystic fibrosis

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.  Others are thick sticky mucus, frequent respiratory infections, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

Lung 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, there is 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. There is a 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. Sinus 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.

Life with Cystic Fibrosis

The lungs of persons with cystic fibrosis are infected and colonized with bacteria from an early age. These types of bacteria and their characteristics change and develop in time. 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 sufferers. In healthcare facilities, people with cystic fibrosis should be isolated from one another. 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 colonized the airways. Some of them are found almost exclusively in patients with cystic fibrosis. Defective mucous-ciliary clearance favourites the growth of these colonies, together with prolonged antibiotic and corticosteroid therapies that also favourite their growth.

The respiratory complications can be reduced by using salt therapy. Hyper-tonic 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 is very beneficial in managing cystic fibrosis. It provides exposure during the night sleep, when the salt micro-particles slowly deposit on the respiratory mucosa. It helps to make the thick mucus more fluid, unclogs the airways and reduces inflammation. Salt is known to have bactericide properties and helps in fighting infections, beside its mucolytic and anti inflammatory effect. Using a home salt therapy device will create a seashore micro-environment in your own house. It is very easy to use, natural and effective!

Posted on

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.   

Posted on

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, moulds-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 mould 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 (epi-pen) 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 hydro-cortisone 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.

Posted on

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/

Posted on

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 

Posted on

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 colours and shapes. They have an aesthetic 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 aesthetic 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

Posted on

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/