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Respiratory System Disease

Respiratory System Disease.


 


Every six seconds people with serious respiratory disease are reminded that their breathing is impaired, that they are not getting enough oxygen with every breath, that they cannot enjoy life as they used to, that their activities are restricted and that their lives may not be as long. 


As an important member of your respiratory care team, Medical Supplies & Equipment Company, LLC is dedicated to helping respiratory disease patients achieve the highest level of treatment available. We select quality respiratory care equipment from top manufacturers to make sure you are receiving exactly the respiratory care treatment your physician prescribes. Our respiratory care product specialists will be pleased to work with you and your respiratory care team members to furnish respiratory care supplies & equipment specifically designed to help you treat or manage respiratory disease.


 


Common respiratory diseases treated by respiratory care physicians and other specialists include:


  • Asthma - constriction of hypersensitive airways;
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - lung disease causing shortness of breath;
  • Chronic Bronchitis - inflammation and permanent scarring of the bronchial tubes
  • Emphysema - damage to air sacs walls causing loss of elasticity;
  • Pleurisy - inflammation of the pleural membrane lining lungs and the chest cavity;
  • Lung Cancer - malignant tumors that develop in lung tissue
  • Acute Bronchitis-inflammation of the bronchial tubes;
  • Influenza - serious infection cause by the influenza virus;
  • Pneumonia - infection of the lungs caused by a virus or bacteria;
  • Sinusitis - inflammation of the sinus cavities;
  • Common Cold - infection caused by a virus;

However, respiratory disease may involve more than lung disease, and can include a malfunction of the brain stem controlling the breathing mechanism, or disease and malfunction of the diaphragm and surrounding muscles.


 


Asthma.


 


As many as10 percent of Americans, more than 20 million people, have asthma. Approximately 4,000 people die each year from asthma. People with asthma have hypersensitive respiratory system airways that, when triggered, constrict. Constricted airways reduce the flow of air and cause trouble breathing. Asthma is associated with wheezing, caused when air is forced through restricted air passages.


 


Asthma attacks can be brought on by triggers, such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, factory fumes, cleaning solvents, infections, pollens, foods, cold air, exercise, chemicals and medications. Triggers are highly individual and may not be related to allergens. Many asthmatics are not allergic to common allergens such as mold, ragweed, dust or pollens.


 


However, many individuals are both allergic and asthmatic, making control and management crucial. It is imperative that people who find they are debilitated by either allergies or asthma seek medical assistance immediately. Both respiratory conditions are treatable and manageable.


 


Asthma Myths & Facts.


 


Myth: Asthma is caused by emotions or psychological conditions.


Fact: Emotions may exacerbate asthma, but the hypersensitive respiratory airways were present before emotions were introduced.


 


Myth: A child's asthma is not caused by lack of a strong bond with the mother.


Fact: No scientific evidence has ever existed to support this.


 


Myth: Asthma is psychosomatic and should be treated by psychiatrists or psychologists.


Fact: Asthma and allergies are physical conditions of physical hypersensitivity of the respiratory system. Asthmatics do not cause their own asthma attacks.


 


Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Asthma.


  • Remove allergens from the home, including dust, dust mites, cleaning chemicals, pets and carpets.
  • Encase mattresses and box springs in allergen-proof products.
  • Wash all linens, blankets, quilts and comforters at least once a week in hot water.
  • Use only allergen-proof pillows and blankets.
  • Clean the home thoroughly and often.
  • Asthma patients should leave the house during cleaning.
  • Treat any mold with a 10-percent solution of bleach and water.
  • Repair any water leak immediately to discourage mold.
  • Establish a no smoking policy in the home.
  • Investigate neighborhoods thoroughly before you move to avoid environmental pollution.
  • Investigate workplace environments to avoid exposure to fumes, mold or dust. 
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water daily, to thin mucus in the respiratory system airways.

Asthma Medications.


 


Two basic types of drugs are used to treat the respiratory diseases of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): bronchodialators that expand the bronchial tubes and anti-inflammatory medication reduce the inflammation in irritated airways. A myriad of medications are available that are either bronchodialators or anti-inflammatory, or some combination. 


 


Although we usually think of medication as either in pill form or an injection, many respiratory care medications are inhaled to deliver the drug directly to the respiratory system.


Steroids are the best known and most powerful anti-inflammatory drugs used for respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD. Although steroids are effective, long-term use can lead to serious side effects, including cataracts, increased appetite and weight gain, puffiness and fluid retention, and adrenal gland dysfunction.


 


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.


 


Lung disease referred to as COPD generally includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. While bronchitis involves inflammation and scarring of the main airways, the bronchial tubes, and emphysema is permanent damage to the walls of the air sacs and loss of lung elasticity, both cause obstruction of the normal air flow. Individuals with COPD exhibit symptoms such as shortness of breath, chronic cough and chronic mucus production. COPD is the leading cause of breathing disability in the U.S. The American Lung Association statistics state:


  • COPD claims the lives of 107,146 Americans annually;
  • COPD is the fourth leading cause of death;
  • COPD costs Americans $30.4 billion--$14.7 billion in healthcare costs, $15.7 indirect costs;
  • 80-90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking.

Additional causes of COPD include:


  • Second-hand smoke;
  • Air and occupational pollution;
  • Heredity;
  • Pre-disposition to and history of respiratory infections;
  • Chronic or under-treated asthma;
  • Cystic Fibrosis (inherited).

COPD Symptoms.


  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing;
  • Increased mucus or sputum;
  • Frequent clearing of the throat;
  • Cough;
  • Wheezing;
  • Yellow, green or bloody sputum;
  • Ankle or leg swelling;
  • Sleep difficulties;
  • Overall fatigue;
  • Forgetfulness, confusion or slurred speech.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.


  • Do not smoke;
  • Avoid respiratory irritants (pollen, dust, air pollution);
  • Respiratory care medications (bronchodialators, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids, expectorants, diuretics);
  • Cardiovascular exercise;
  • Healthy, nutritious diet;
  • Regular medical check-ups;
  • Flu and pneumonia immunizations;
  • Oxygen therapy;
  • Home air purifiers;
  • Home humidifiers;

Acute Bronchitis.


 


Acute Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the primary airways to the lungs, usually caused by a viral or bacterial respiratory infection. Bronchitis symptoms generally appear after a respiratory infection has lowered an individual's resistance and include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, increased mucus and fatigue. If mucus or sputum is yellow or green, antibiotics may be prescribed. Unlike chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis lasts from four to six weeks.


 


Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Acute Bronchitis.


  • Increased liquids;
  • Respiratory care medications (decongestants, bronchodialators, antibiotics, expectorants);
  • Home humidifiers.

Sinusitis.


 


Approximately 40 million people develop the respiratory disease, sinusitis, each year. Sinusitis, inflammation of the sinus cavities, every year, usually develops after colds or allergic reactions. Anytime the small opening of the sinus cavities are blocked, sinusitis may occur. People with diseases of the immune system are pre-disposed to developing sinusitis. Although saline sprays may alleviate nasal congestion, avoid using over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays longer than three days. Decongestant nasal sprays can cause nasal tissue to rebound, increasing congestion. If not treated quickly and completely, sinusitis can lead to respiratory system complications such as meningitis, sinus abscesses and chronic sinusitis. Symptoms of sinusitis include:


  • Headache or facial pain;
  • Nasal congestion;
  • Green or yellow nasal mucus;
  • Cough;
  • Sore throat;
  • Fatigue.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Sinusitis.


  • Avoid cigarette smoke and pollution;
  • Humidifiers;
  • Increased liquids;
  • Treat allergies and respiratory infections promptly;
  • Antibiotics;
  • Sinus surgery to drain sinus cavities;

Common Cold.


 


Colds are upper respiratory infections that are exceedingly contagious. Colds are caused by hundreds of different rhinoviruses - different from influenza viruses. Cold viruses are spread through sneezing and coughing and by touching contaminated objects. Most people recover from colds within two weeks by treating respiratory infection symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and should not be taken as a cold remedy. If respiratory infection symptoms become worse, last longer than two weeks or mucus becomes yellow or green, cold suffers should see a physician. Cold symptoms may include:


  • Sneezing;
  • Runny nose;
  • Cough;
  • Sore throat;
  • Congestion;
  • Low-grade fever;
  • Headache;
  • Muscle aches.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Common Cold.


  • Frequent hand washing;
  • Increased liquids;
  • Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprophen;
  • Cough suppressants;
  • Decongestants;

Influenza.


 


Influenza is serious respiratory tract infection caused by the influenza virus. Flu is highly contagious, spread from person to person from airborne viruses. Because there are so many flu viruses and viruses are capable of changing, it is impossible to prevent flu outbreaks. Although a recent anti-viral drug and flu immunizations have been successful in preventing many people from succumbing to a respiratory virus, treatment primarily consists of treating respiratory symptoms, which may include:


  • Runny nose;
  • Fever and chills;
  • Cough;
  • Aches in muscles and joints;
  • Sore throat;
  • Upper respiratory congestion;
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Influenza.


  • Annual flu immunizations;
  • Anti-vital medication (amantadine);
  • Frequent hand washing;
  • Analgesics for muscle and joint aches;
  • Increased liquids.

Pneumonia.


 


Pneumonia is a respiratory infection of the lungs caused by a virus or bacteria that occurs in approximately one percent of the population each year. Pneumonia can be a mild respiratory inflammation or it can require intensive-care hospitalization. Although most patients recover in two to three weeks, some may have complete respiratory failure and die. The elderly are especially vulnerable to pneumonia. Until antibiotics were developed in 1936, pneumonia was the leading cause of U. S. deaths.


 


Walking Pneumonia (Mycoplasma Pneumonia).


 


Walking Pneumonia is a respiratory infection caused by a specific bacteria (mycoplasma pneumoniae) affecting approximately two million Americans annually, mostly those under age 40.


 


Pneumonia symptoms can include:


  • Cough;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Yellow, green or bloody mucus or sputum;
  • Chest pain;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chills and fever.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Pneumonia.


  • Increased liquids;
  • Respiratory care medications (antibiotics, expectorants);
  • Pneumonia immunization;
  • Home humidifiers;
  • Respiratory therapy.

Pleurisy.


 


Pleurisy is a respiratory inflammation of the pleural membrane lining the lungs and the chest cavity, usually when a respiratory bacterial infection is present. The primary symptom is chest pain, increasing with coughing and deep breathing. Other symptoms may include:


  • Pain upon moving;
  • Fluid pockets along the chest wall;
  • Fatigue;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Fever.

Prevention and Treatment of Respiratory Disease - Pleurisy.


  • Respiratory care medications (antibiotics for bacterial infections).

Lung Cancer.


 


More than 169,500 new cases of lung cancer were treated in 2001, according to the American Lung Association. Most were caused by cigarette smoking. Some were caused by second-hand cigarette smoke. More people die from lung cancer than from any other type of cancer. Malignant tumors that develop in lung tissue are treated by:


  • Surgery;
  • Chemotherapy;
  • Radiation therapy;
  • Combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Prevention of Lung Cancer.


  • Never start smoking tobacco of any kind;
  • Stop smoking;
  • Avoid second-hand smoke;
  • Avoid industrial or occupational pollutants.

Many less common conditions and diseases also affect the respiratory system, including:


  • Congestive Heart Failure - when the heart cannot pump enough blood, lung capillaries may become congested and cause a fluid back-up in the lungs.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux - inflammation of the esophagus from regurgitation of stomach acid. When reflux is not corrected, stomach acid may be aspirated and damage lung tissue causing chronic pulmonary disease.
  • Guillain Barre Syndrome - muscle paralysis that begins in the feet or legs then travels up the body to the respiratory muscles.
  • Myasthenia Gravis - muscle weakness caused by a chemical abnormality in the nerves may affect respiratory system muscles.

Oxygen Therapy.


 


Many patients who have some form of acute respiratory disease or chronic respiratory condition are unable to extract enough oxygen from the air. The oxygen level in their blood, measured by a pulse oximetry test, is too low. Most people with respiratory system problems are not oxygen deficient. Only a small percentage of respiratory care patients will need continuous oxygen therapy. Other respiratory care patients may benefit by using oxygen during exercise or while sleeping.


 


Oxygen is stored in a gas oxygen tank or a liquid oxygen canister with an attached oxygen regulator. Oxygen becomes gaseous as a patient breathes via a mask, nasal cannula or trachea catheter. 


 


Remember that oxygen is highly flammable and should be handled with care:


  • Keep oxygen tanks and canisters upright and secured to a stand;
  • Enforce no smoking rules;
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the home;
  • Avoid flammable cleaners, paint thinner and aerosol sprays;
  • Inform your fire department that you receive oxygen therapy in the home.

Oxygen concentrators are respiratory care machines that separate oxygen from nitrogen, and then deliver oxygen to patients via masks. Oxygen concentrators usually have long lengths of tubing so that patients can move around while receiving oxygen.


Although oxygen therapy can improve the health and overall quality of life for respiratory care patients, there are disadvantages for those who need a continuous supply of oxygen:


  • Oxygen therapy can be confining;
  • Oxygen masks or nasal cannulas can cause irritation or discomfort ;
  • Oxygen can cost several hundred dollars a month;
  • Too much or too little oxygen can be harmful, oxygen must be carefully regulated with frequent physician monitoring;

 


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