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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.

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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.