Category Archives for "Lung Health"

Things Nurses will tell Patients about their Asthma

Nurses all over the world are aware that lung ailments are some of the hardest conditions to combat, because it can cause a lot of complications in breathing and, eventually, going about regular daily activities. Especially in the present day, when pollution and smoke disturbs the atmosphere, it should come as no surprise that the number of people having respiratory related health problems is likewise on the rise. Given that fact, various diseases have escalated to become common ailments in the household. One of the more popular ones is asthma.

doctor helping patient

Asthma is a lasting medical condition that affects the lungs, specifically its airways. Wheezing and difficulty breathing are the main indicators of the disease. Nonetheless, the more apparent symptoms of asthma appear to be irregular cough or chest tightness. Nurses are aware of further dangers that this disease can cause, since they often attend to people inflicted with it – personally.

Come to think of it, having this ailment can be compared to gearing up a hand grenade, where the ring, which acts as trigger, must be displaced for it to work. Similarly, in having asthma, there are various factors that trigger its attacks, which can be based from different environmental factors.

These triggers may include pollution, pollen, animal dander, chemicals, smoke, exercise and anxiety or other emotions that may induce adverse reactions. However, these triggers depend on the patient because each person may have variable triggers. Since these variable triggers and environmental factors are rampant, people have come to believe many so-called “facts” about asthma.

Nursing practitioners are prime witnesses to the struggle of patients when they have episodes of coughing and chest pains. As part of their duty, nurses would not hesitate to shed light on the realities of asthma as they help those who had the misfortune of having the challenge of this respiratory condition.

At this point, it is important to learn from the first hand heroes of healthcare and find out what nurses would unselfishly share with patients the truth behind asthma.

Asthma and Allergies are different

Asthma and having allergies are two closely related but different conditions. Because of their close ties, it may have caused a lot of people to think that asthma is an allergy. It is not. Having allergies is a “smaller” condition compared to having Asthma mainly because the former entails both a lot more and worse complications.

asthma attack

True enough, both respiratory conditions can make it a toll to breath for people afflicted. However, allergies are when the immune system has a reaction to normally harmless things. Allergies may be induced by irritants, or the more aptly coined term allergens, which may include pollens, dust or animal dander.

Nurses emphasize that asthma is a much more severe, chronic condition that ensues in the bronchial tubes. Then again, there is a type of asthma which can be induced by allergies. Allergic asthma is a kind of asthma that is triggered by allergens, causing the inflicted person to have difficulty in breathing as well as coughing.

This is why it is important that children and adults alike be in an environment that is free of these allergens. Simple steps like having the best air purifier for allergies can play a big role in preventing these attacks from happening. Nurses also suggest keeping away from places filled with dust and dirt to prevent any possible allergy-induced episodes.

Patients Need Constant Medication

Since asthma is primarily a chronic, lasting disease, it also comes as an antecedent that medication may be required over a long period of time depending on the indicators felt.

inhaler

Inhalers are among the most popular medications  in treating asthma. It acts as a more efficient manner of injecting medicine because the drug is inhaled directly where the airways are. This is to soothe the throat region and prevent more hard coughs which can be a huge struggle for patients. There are also nebulisers which are machines used in hospitals to transfer short-acting bronchodilator medicines and convert it to aerosols for easier absorption.

All in all, medicines and maintenance procedures should not be taken lightly because it is first in line in curing the ailment. Since asthma is a very serious matter, unlike common perceptions, consistent evaluation of what medicine to use definitely comes into play.

People CAN and SHOULD exercise

True enough, having asthma can have some serious (and evident) repercussions such as heavy breathing. However, in spite of the difficulty in breathing, it is still important for the patient to continue to do exercise.

Exercising is an integral therapy to any health-related condition. In fact, doing physical activities is still a vital approach to having a fortified immune system. There are various ways to go about exercising when inflicted with asthma.

Employing warm ups and cool downs in an exercise regimen is one approach to make it easier for people to exercise. Exercise not only helps build muscles and strengthen the bones, one of the more obvious benefits of it is that it also helps strengthen the lungs. With exercised lungs, breathing is more manageable, thus, the less the symptoms can be felt. Exercise can also reduce asthma risks since it induces better lung function. Then again, it is as important to consult doctors when planning to exercise to know what safe ways it can be done.

A balanced diet and a good exercise regimen, plus proper medication, are keys towards living life happily with asthma.

Humidity CAN help but won’t cure it

Often, dry settings and high altitude can trigger some attacks in the bronchial region.This is because it can make the region dry and itchy which can induce coughing. Humid surroundings are actually more ideal for keeping the airways moist. Since asthma can be very dependent on which environment people exist in, some people ought to think that just moving to a place with humid climate just poofs away the ailment.  This is not necessarily true.

Generally speaking, it has been proven that the environment is a major factor in developing any disease. Truly, a change in the surroundings can somehow make asthmatic symptoms lessen. Nonetheless, it cannot totally cure it. In fact, the lessened effect of the change is so much temporary that new environmental allergens can adapt to evolve into triggers for one’s asthma.

The best way to go about it is to have a controlled environment. A controlled environment can and will help any asthma-inflicted person in many ways.

It won’t just go away

A common misconception about the disease is that a person will outgrow it. The main problem in that is it is a chronic illness, thus, it is lasting and continues to endure when there is no proper medication.

docotor helping child

Technically speaking, children can outgrow asthma. In fact, according studies in the United States, half of children with ages 2-10 have indicators of the ailment, such as lessened difficulty to breath and wheezing. Unfortunately, those who “outgrew” their asthma can most likely recur in adulthood, especially when these people start the habit of smoking as well as being introduced to a polluted environment.

What parents can work with in children is setting the proper environment where they can eat and play. This is one of the better steps towards not developing the disease. With proper medication and consistent, evaluated primary care, asthma may soon be an ailment of the past and completely (and literally) disappear.

Love your Lungs – 6 Habits That Can Improve Lung Health

Nowadays, people take for granted the importance of keeping their lungs healthy. Certainly, people know the basics: that smoking is extremely bad for their body, and that people can still get lung cancer despite never having smoked a cigarette in their whole life.

Lung health is more than just not smoking, however; it’s about being proactive in keeping your body healthy and ready to take on any physiological challenges. Now, if you’re looking for ways to take care of your lungs, read on.

Exercise

This one is pretty obvious. Regular workouts, especially cardiovascular exercises promote better lung capacity.

fitness machine

The truth is that lung capacity naturally goes down as people age. Decreased lung capacity often leads to the lowering of oxygen intake, effectively impairing metabolic function and decreasing stamina and endurance during regular physical activities. Lack of oxygen also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Mentally, you can also experience a decline in general focus, concentration and memory.

Ultimately, low energy and general fatigue come along with decreased lung capacity.

The powerful combination of a larger lung capacity with healthy lungs allows the body to transport oxygen throughout the body at a much faster and more efficient rate. Consider exercising underwater or at higher elevations — both scenarios require your lungs to work harder to supply the oxygen to your blood. Also, include cardio activities in your exercises whenever possible.

Quit smoking

You already know this. Just in case you don’t know, smoking is responsible for 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths, according to the National Institutes of Health. The American Lung Association reports that chronic lung disease accounts for nearly 73 percent of all conditions related to smoking among people who currently smoke and nearly 50 percent of smoking-related conditions among former smokers or those who have given up the habit. The bottom line is – just quit it!

no to smoking

Then again, there is also the huge factor of second hand smoking, and it is best if you can avoid it. Second hand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or worsen a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.

Clean up your indoor air

Here’s something that’s not known to most people. While pollution is prominent in the outdoors and most especially in the city, people usually don’t think about the idea of having equally dirty indoor air, or aptly coined as indoor air pollution.

air conditioner

Usually, indoor air quality problems only cause discomfort. Most people feel better as soon as they remove the source of the pollution. However, some pollutants can cause diseases that show up much later, such as respiratory diseases or cancer. It can also help if you use a whole house air purifier to ensure a healthy living area, and to lower the risk of long-term respiratory ailments.

First and foremost, the air inside the average home can be laden with toxins. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers indoor air pollution to be one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Making sure that your building is well-ventilated and getting rid of pollutants can also improve the quality of your indoor air.

The best thing to do to minimize this type of pollution is to use whole house fans to draw clean air in and exhaust polluted air out. You can clear out the clutter and use an air filtration system. Also, as stated above, it is highly recommended to eliminate all cigarette smoking inside your home to finally clear the air at home.

Eat for a better lung health

It’s important to eat a healthy diet for the lungs, including eating lean protein for strong muscles, complex carbohydrates for energy, and colorful fruits and vegetables for their antioxidants and immune-boosting properties.

Cruciferous Vegetables (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, etc), foods with carotenoids (carrots and other colorful veggies), foods with omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, flaxseed, etc), garlic, berries, apples, and grapefruit are just basic examples of the different types of foods you can eat to improve your lung health. A lot of them are also naturally delicious!

Also, increase your water intake. Water plays a huge role in health and is the basis of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps your lungs hydrated and the mucus in your body flowing. It may sound disgusting, but that mucus is important and needs to be at the right consistency for the cilia to move it—along with toxins, microbes, and pollutants—out.

eat veggies

If you’re carrying around excess body fat — particularly belly fat — consider dieting because stored fat in this location can squash your lungs making breathing more difficult.

Protect against infection

Prevention is always better than a cure, and lung health is no different. It’s best if you can find yourself vaccines as early as possible, while also generally avoiding pollutants on the job and at home.

Flu vaccinations are an absolute must, and anyone 65 or older should consider getting the pneumococcal vaccine as well. Also, it is recommended that anyone aged 65 or over should receive two pneumococcal vaccinations: the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine first, followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in the next six to 12 months.

The American Lung Association reports that more than 22,000 workers in 2008 developed lung disease related to their jobs as a result of occupational lung diseases such as asbestosis, occupational asthma, mesothelioma, silicosis, and sick building syndrome.

On the job, whether you’re a construction worker, miner, chef, hair stylist, auto repair shop worker, or painter, it’s important to take safety precautions seriously and follow protocols to avoid unnecessary exposure. In the home, consider using a whole house fan to draw pollutants out of your home, and clean carpets and upholstery at least two times a year.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from respiratory infection from work and at home:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. An alcohol-based cleaner is a good substitute if you cannot wash.
  • Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
  • Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
  • Get vaccinated every year against influenza. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.
  • If you get sick, it’s more than advisable to keep it to yourself. Protect the people around you, including your loved ones, by keeping your distance. Stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.

no germs

Know the warning signs of lung disease

Early detection is your best friend when it comes to lung disease.

The American Lung Association recommends consulting your physician as soon as you notice any of the following signs:

  • Chest pain (especially when you breathe or cough)
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic production of mucus
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Keep all these things in mind. It is needless to say that lung health is of high importance when it comes to a human’s overall wellness. It affects numerous bodily functions, from mental prowess to physical capabilities, and having unhealthy lungs simply compromises one’s overall performance.

How poor air quality could damage your lungs

It’s pretty obvious that most living things need air to stay alive. In the past, air had been considered as just being made up of a single type of matter. Through the course of scientific history, it was eventually learned that air is actually a mixture of different gases. Oxygen and nitrogen are two of the main components of air, which plays a huge role in the survival of all living things on the planet.

woman enjoying fresh air

Organisms living on Earth directly take oxygen from the layer of air that envelops the planet, more commonly known as the atmosphere. As for aquatic organisms, they get their much needed oxygen from air in small concentrations dispersed in water.

Plants, however, need carbon dioxide to stay alive. They absorb it from the air exhaled by humans and animals. As plants collect carbon dioxide, they process it to be converted and release it back again into the atmosphere as oxygen. Hence, plants and animals have a mutual and interdependent relationship with each other as they maintain atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in equilibrium.

Although invisible to the naked eye, air has always been around since the earlier years of the planet as it sustains and maintains the life of all things living on Earth. While air can’t be seen, it can definitely be felt when the leaves and tree branches sway. However, the sad reality is that just like a good number of natural resources that are needed to sustain life, air has been treated poorly and rarely given value.

Poor Air Quality

Pollution in the air is the dispersal in the atmosphere of chemicals, particles, and gaseous waste materials that cause discomfort, illnesses, fatality to humans, and damage to other living things such as livestock and crops. It comes from vehicular smoke emissions, coal and other industrial power plants, cargo and passenger ships, and also from natural phenomena like wildfires.

air quality

Air pollution has worsened in the past decades and is considered to be one of the most alarming issues that needs to be addressed – especially in large cities and states. Along with industrialization and incredible technological advancements, pollutants in the atmosphere have become more rampant. This situation has posed a threat to the health of all living things and to the rest of the environment.

Regularly inhaling polluted air takes away at least a year or two from a typical human lifespan. In fact, rising levels of air pollution in Beijing, China have resulted to a new respiratory disease called Beijing cough. Similarly, one of the deadliest air pollution situations in history is the Great Smog of London phenomenon in 1952, which has recorded at least 8000 casualties.

Also, air pollution related deaths are fast-increasing in Asia. In fact, 65% of deaths in Asian countries are accounted to poor air quality that resulted from serious respiratory ailments. In India alone, air pollution is causing approximately 527, 700 deaths a year. In China, however, about 750, 000 Chinese die prematurely due to a polluted atmosphere.

Within the American region however, records show that 25, 000 people die prematurely in California due to respiratory ailments, and $200 million worth of medical expenses are incurred yearly. Furthermore, deaths caused by air pollution cost the European Union €161 billion.

These numbers prove that the most visible effects of air pollution is more than just smog or yellow dust. Inhaling these particles do have negative effects that can put anyone’s respiratory health at risk.

Respiratory Health Risk 1 – Asthma

Even though asthma is not directly caused by air pollutants, asthma episodes or attacks can be triggered by high levels of harmful particles and chemicals in the air. According to a non-profit international environmental advocacy group in New York called the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), asthma is chronic, a lingering and debilitating inflammatory disease in the body’s airways that may be caused by smoke emissions from cars, factories, and power plants.

NRDC states that ground level ozone, sulfur dioxide, fine particles, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide are common triggers of asthma. These pollutants cause the constriction and inflammation of the smaller airways in the lungs that make breathing a burden even for healthy people. For asthmatic people, sudden constrictions may pose a threat to his or her life.

Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC considers second-hand tobacco and cigarette smoke as another cause of asthmatic attacks. In Europe and North America, asthma attacks related to poor air quality is one of the most common diseases that cause mortality.

inhaler

CDC recommends that parents, friends, and relatives of people with asthma should not smoke in close proximity or greatly consider totally quitting smoking. Also, medical professionals suggest investing in the best air purifier in the market today to ensure the highest quality of air in one’s home.

Respiratory Health Risk 2 – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder

Increase in air pollution levels can also cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder or COPD. It is a progressive disease that refers to repetitive manifestations of respiratory problems such as bronchitis. Progressive means that the disease can get worse overtime if not treated immediately.

Smoking is recognized to be the main factor in the development of COPD. Also, current studies of respondents who lived during the Great Smog in 1952 show significant decrease in breathing capacity and vulnerability to respiratory ailments.

COPD causes coughing that yields mucus in large amounts, wheezing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. As it develops slowly, symptoms worsen over time that may limit or eventually lose a patient’s ability to accomplish daily activities like walking, cooking, and other regular daily activity.

Furthermore, it can lead to disability and even death, with COPD considered as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Current statistics show that millions of people are diagnosed to have the disease. However, there can still be more people that may have it but are not aware of their condition. Middle-aged and older adults are often diagnosed to have this disease. Although COPD is chronic and progressive, it is not contagious and non-infectious.

heart attack

There is no medicine available as of today for the said disease, and doctors are still researching ways to reverse the damage to the airways and lungs. However, breathing clean air and a change in lifestyle can prevent a person from developing the disease.

Respiratory Health Risk 3 – Lung Cancer

Although smoking is known to elevate the risk of lung cancer, it is also important to keep other factors in check, such as indoor and outdoor air pollutants.

In 2014, the International Agency for Research on Cancer gathered a panel of experts to review the relationship of air pollution and lung cancer. The panel has then concluded that there was enough proof that outdoor air pollutants can cause cancer in people.

lung diagram

The risk is dependent on the air pollution level in the environment that a person is exposed to. Air pollution known as PM 2.5 (or Particulate Matter that is less than 2.5 millionths of a meter across) is the level that causes cancer.

According to LungCancer.org, this type of cancer is regarded as an involuntary growth of abnormal cells in the respiratory tract. These abnormal cells develop into tumors, spread throughout the lungs, and eventually impair the organ’s main function to supply oxygen throughout the body.

In a research conducted by Dr. C. Arden Pope III and his colleagues, exposure to combustion-generated fine particulate matter for a long period of time poses a threat to the cardiopulmonary health of a person. Also, urban air pollution boosts risk of lung cancer. Most specifically, pollutants emitted by vehicles are considered to be the most dangerous.