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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Please Help Me Breath!

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a particularly nasty lung condition that escalates in stages amongst those with emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. 

Tragically, emphysema slowly destroys the air sacs in your lungs, which ultimately interferes with your outward air flow capacity. Bronchitis on the other hand, causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. The narrowing allows mucus to build up causing congestion.

When COPD is diagnosed in addition to a pre-existent condition such as emphysema or bronchitis, breathing can become almost impossible. Symptoms may be mild at first, beginning with a cough, some congestion and wheezing.  Regular medical checkups are absolutely necessary as you can easily dismiss these symptoms at first as having a simple cold 

4-Stages-of-COPD

Symptom Stages

Stage 1

  • mild shortness of breath, especially after exercise
  • mild but chronic cough
  • needing to clear your throat often, especially upon waking

Stage 2

  • shortness of breath after mild exercise such as walking up a flight of stairs
  • wheezing
  • tightness in the chest
  • chronic cough, which may or may not produce mucus
  • Chronic chest congestion
  • Contracting frequent colds or other respiratory infections
  • reduced energy

Stage 3

  • Chronic fatigue
  • swelling in the lower extremities such as feet, ankles and legs
  • Decreased appetite

Stage 4

  • bluish or gray fingernails and lips due to low oxygen levels in your blood
  • trouble catching your breath
  • confusion or faintness due to decreased oxygen levels to the brain
  • racing heart beat

Cause

Smoking is the number one cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and is most commonly diagnosed in patients over the age of 40. You can also develop COPD if you’re exposed to toxic fumes from chemicals or asbestos in the workplace. Long-term exposure to air pollution and inhaling dust has also been known to cause COPD among those with allergies.

Treatment

 Although COPD is considered to be a chronic condition, it can be managed and treated in a number of different ways to improve your quality of life. The most common forms of treatment are doctor prescribed bronchodilators to help relax muscles in the airways, gluco-corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation, and at later stages oxygen therapy is common. Surgery is usually the last form of treatment available and is often needed to remove large air sacs from the lungs, or in extreme cases a full lung transplant.

To lower the risk of contracting additional respiratory infections, your doctor will likely add vaccinations to your treatment plan. A yearly flu shot, pneumococcal vaccine, and possibly a tetanus booster helps protect the lungs from damage against infections.

Alternative Treatment

Although there is no cure currently for COPD, alternative treatments do exist that can help to increase lung air capacity and regulate breathing. Environmental treatments such as the Saltair home salt therapy device have been shown to be very effective in easing COPD symptoms.

Saltair works by releasing tiny microscopic particles of salt into the air over a 7-8 hour period. As the salt is inhaled, the inflammation in the bronchial tubes eases allowing for clear breathing. These inhalable particles of salt help clear the mucus, reduce inflammation, and naturally boost your respiratory immune system over time. Home salt therapy can act not only to treat the common symptoms and causes of COPD, but can also act as a preventative agent in your environment by naturally cleansing the air.

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About Wheezing

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling like sound made while breathing. Usually wheezing occurs during expiration (breathing out), but it can appear at inspiration (breathing in) as well.

reduced airflow and wheezing

Wheezing is a result of narrowing of the airways usually due to inflammation or by a physical obstruction. Wheezing is typically accompanied by difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. The narrowing of the airways can be caused by inflammation from asthma, a respiratory infection or an allergic reaction.  A physical obstruction can be from a tumor or a foreign object present in the airways.

The most common cause of recurrent wheezing is asthma. Other possible causes of wheezing can include:

  1. Allergies
  2. Anaphylaxis – that is a very severe allergic reaction to allergenic triggers such as food, insect bite or medication
  3. Asthma
  4. Bronchiolitis
  5. Bronchiectasis
  6. Bronchitis
  7. COPD
  8. Cystic Fibrosis
  9. Emphysema
  10. Epiglottitis (inflammation of the "lid" of your windpipe)
  11. Foreign object in the airways
  12. GERD — Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  13. Heart failure
  14. Lung cancer
  15. Medications such as aspirin
  16. Pneumonia
  17. Pulmonary Fibrosis
  18. Respiratory tract infection
  19. RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus)
  20. Sleep apnea
  21. Smoking
  22. Vocal cord dysfunction
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Emphysema: Its Risk Factors

We know smoking is injurious to health. It causes severe injury to lungs and increases its vulnerability to different types of infections. One such smoking induced disorder is the major damage in air sacs in lungs, which makes patients suffer from abruptly shortage of breath. This problem is called emphysema and it is one of the diseases counted in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease group, shortly known as COPD.

damage in emphysema

The symptoms of this lung disorder often remain non-acute, but chronic. People suffering from emphysema mostly suffer from respiratory discomfort, difficulty when exhaling, and recurring irritation due to cough and wheezing. Its symptoms are slowly progressive therefore often remain undetected at its first stage. Learning about its risk factors will help you to avoid its triggers and thus to ensure better protection from this lung disease.

Tobacco smoking

Cigarette smokers are at the great risk of developing emphysema; however, those who smoke pipe or cigar are not spared either. The intensity of the addiction and number of year under the addiction works as the trigger.

Aging increases the risk of infection

Although all smokers are susceptible to this lung disease, people between 40 and 60 years are mostly found at high risk zone for developing the lung trouble.

Exposure to passive smoking

People who are regularly exposed to passive smoking may have developed this infection after a certain time. In this way kids may also be affected by this respiratory problem being induced by passive smoking around.

Occupational exposure to harmful fumes

Those are not typically smoking-addicted but are regularly exposed at fumes of cotton, mining products, grain or woods may develop the problem of emphysema. The risk gets doubled if anyone of these fume-exposed individuals is found smoking addicted.

Exposure to pollution

 Regular and high-degree exposure to harmful pollutants like fumes of fuel, car emission, coal fumes, dust and grime may increase the risk of emphysema infection in an individual.

Knowing the risk factors and maintaining rigorous avoidance of these risk factors is one of the prime methods to build natural resistance to emphysema.

To avoid chronic respiratory diseases such as emphysema, asthma, COPD and others, using home salt therapy is a good start. The salt aerosol helps in strengthening the respiratory mucosa to allergens and help to clean the pollutants from the respiratory system. Maintaining a good hygiene on the respiratory tract is a priority today!

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COPD – Know the Common Triggers

COPD – Know the Common Triggers Causing the Disease

COPD is a common respiratory problem. For some reasons, infliction of this respiratory disease has become a common incident these days and women are found more vulnerable than men in general. Sometimes the indications of this disease are asymptomatic; however sometimes the problem of COPD gets arrested not long since its induction. Early detection of this disease is possible once you know the risk factors and other allied reasons causing this health disorder.

Copd  

Causes of COPD – the major risk factors

COPD is medically termed as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is mostly a kind of lifestyle disease; rather we can say some unhygienic lifestyle issues may cause COPD. Certain personal habits or impact of environment may increase the chance of infliction of COPD.

  • Chain tobacco smokers are found in high risk category of COPD,
  • Those who suffer from the adverse effect of passive smoking often can get COPD,
  • Frequent exposure to coal and wood smoke may also cause COPD,
  • Patients with chronic problem of hyper sensitivity of respiratory track often become the victims of COPD disease.

Withdrawal from these unhygienic conditions as well as strict avoidance of the risk factors can be a fair solution for reducing the risk of developing COPD.

Other than these lifestyle factors, people with deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin are found vulnerable to this respiratory disease.  Due to this deficiency, the elasticity of lung tissues is badly affected and contributes to COPD.

Causes of COPD – Other allied health reasons

There are some other health disorders which may initiate the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a patient. According to extensive study and research on the COPD causes, it has been detected that at least there are three non-generic health disorders that may increase the chance of developing COPD in an individual.

Any type of infectious lung disease that is not properly treated and is prolonged may induce the symptoms of COPD in a patient.

Emphysema is one of the allied diseases under the COPD umbrella. Due to this disease the alveoli (air sacs in the lungs) present at the end of the terminal bronchioles of the lungs, get abnormally enlarged and the walls between them can break and large holes or empty spaces can form in the lungs (bullae), greatly impairing breathing.

Chronic bronchitis is often called as chronic cough and individuals suffering from this chronic cough for more than two consecutive years may get diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Those who have low level AAT protein may suffer from lung damage that is caused by other types of proteins called enzymes, which need to be balanced by the AAT protein. When these people with AAT deficiency protein get exposed to lung irritants or smoke frequently, they become more vulnerable to develop COPD.

These are the common causes of COPD, and sincere effort to eliminate these causes and promoting a healthy lifestyle may help to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Natural treatments such salt therapy can also prevent COPD by providing a good hygiene over the whole respiratory system and improve breathing.

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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 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.