What’s Causing Your Respiratory Problems?
Many things can contribute to respiratory problems, indoors and out. Seasonal allergies, pollution, dust, chemicals, asthma, smoking, chronic bronchitis – some of these are avoidable and some are not.
When allergens from an overgrowth of foliage and dust get into your airways, they can cause your lungs to swell and make it harder to breathe. Most allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications to help open your airways so you can breathe better. Talk with your doctor about which product is best for you.
Throughout the summer, when temperatures hit triple digits, you might have seen alerts on the news about air quality. The humidity and heat index can cause and/or increase several respiratory problems in people. While the temperature outside is cooling down a little, if you can call 96 degrees cool, you may still experience breathing problems well into October. Stay aware of air quality alerts and stay indoors, especially if you have asthma or bronchitis.
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swells, producing extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance.
Asthma symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest tightness
While most people can live normal lives with asthma, an estimated 10 Americans die each day from asthma attacks. If you have asthma and are having trouble breathing, get emergency medical treatment right away.
Visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website to learn more about asthma and allergies.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. People who have bronchitis often cough up thick mucus, which can be discolored. Bronchitis may either be acute or chronic.
Acute bronchitis also called a chest cold, is very common and usually improves within a week to 10 days without lasting effects. A cough may linger for weeks.
Chronic bronchitis, a more serious condition, is a constant irritation or inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, often due to smoking. Chronic bronchitis is one type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The inflamed bronchial tubes produce mucus, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing. Poor air quality with the heat, breathing in air pollution, fumes, or dust over a long period of time may also cause chronic bronchitis.
Smoking as we all know can be deadly. Some of the following harsh facts from the CDC, show the importance of restraining from starting and/or quitting smoking, even if you’ve been a long-time smoker:
- Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.
- Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Motor vehicle injuries
- Firearm-related incidents
- More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.
- Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
- Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from COPD.
- Cigarette smoking increases the risk for death from all causes in men and women.
- The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.
- Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
- Estimates show smoking increases the risk:
- For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
- For stroke by 2 to 4 times
- Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
- Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times
- Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).
- Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease, which are among the leading causes of death in the United States.
- Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.
- Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up. Clots can also form.
- A stroke occurs when:
- A clot blocks the blood flow to part of your brain;
- A blood vessel in or around your brain bursts.
Vaping, which some consider being just as dangerous as cigarette smoking, has become very popular, especially with teens and young adults. In recent news, vaping has been the cause for a Florida teen’s collapsed lung, a Utah man put on life support after being diagnosed with vaping-related lung disease, and the most recent vaping-related death of a woman in Kansas. She is the sixth person in the U.S do to die from a respiratory illness linked to vaping (source MSNBC). E-cigarettes are also linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, diseased arteries, and cancer. (source: Healthy and Natural World.)
The American Heart Association wrote an article about the vaping epidemic in schools across the country. In that article, they state that according to the CDC, nearly 21% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018. That was an increase of nearly 78% in just one year. Among middle school students, the growth rate was 48.5%, from 3.3% to 4.9%.
If your child is vaping, please educate them on the dangers of this popular trend. It’s never too late to quit.
The CDC is urging everyone who vapes to stop until further research is done. Heed the warning signs and keep your lungs healthy.
We can help find out what’s causing your respiratory problems!
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Our top priority is bringing high-quality emergency care, quickly and easily to your family. We are committed to making patients feel better faster in a comforting and compassionate environment.
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