Lung Disease and Respiratory System

Lung Disease and Respiratory System

Lung Disease and Respiratory System
Diseases, pollutants and genetics can affect your respiratory health. The simple cold - which is caused by more than 200 different viruses - inflames the upper respiratory tract, resulting in a cough, runny nose and sneezing. A more severe cough combined with mucus is a sign of bronchitis, where the membranes lining the bronchial tubes become inflamed. The inflammatory lung disease asthma affects more than 20 million people, making airways constrict when exposed to irritants like dust, pet dander and cigarette smoke. Pneumonia, another inflammation of the lungs, can occur because of a bacterial or viral infection. People suffering from cystic fibrosis, an inherited lung disease, frequently battle bacterial infections and airways clogged with thick and sticky mucus.

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    Because most cases of bronchitis are caused by the same kind of contagious virus that causes the common cold, one of the best ways to prevent bronchitis is to wash your hands frequently. You should also consider getting an annual flu shot and should try to avoid contact with others who have respiratory infections or the flu. If you smoke, another important factor is to quit smoking. This will greatly reduce the risk of bronchitis. When you are exposed to irritants in the air, such as dust or fumes, wearing a mask or other protective gear to protect your lungs can also help prevent bronchitis. Your doctor might also recommend getting a pneumonia vaccine, especially if you are over 60 years old or have other issues that increase your risk of bronchitis and pneumonia.

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    To help prevent acute bronchitis:
    • Avoid smoking.
    • Avoid exposure to second hand smoke and do not expose children to second hand smoke.
    • Practice good hand hygiene.
    • Keep you and your child up to date with recommended immunizations.
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    Hyperventilation is breathing faster and deeper than what is considered normal for you. Doing this causes a decrease in carbon dioxide in your blood. Hyperventilation can cause symptoms such as:
    • lightheadedness
    • numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
    • fainting
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    When you hyperventilate, it is not because you are not getting enough oxygen. The problem is that your carbon dioxide is too low in relationship to the amount of oxygen you are taking in. (This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.)
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    Symptoms of empyema include:
    • Chest pain
    • Dry cough
    • Excessive sweating
    • Fever and chills
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Unintentional weight loss
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    The physical symptoms of altitude sickness are the result of low oxygen levels in the body. As one ascends through the atmosphere, barometric pressure decreases and thus every breath contains fewer molecules of oxygen. One must work harder to obtain oxygen by breathing faster and deeper. This is particularly noticeable with exertion, such as walking uphill. (This answer provided for NATA by the Marist College Athletic Training Education Program)
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    There are not necessarily "cures" for pleural cavity disorders, but they tend to respond well to treatment. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, remove air, fluid, or inflammation from the pleural cavity, and discover and treat the underlying cause of the disorder. Pain and difficulty breathing are leading symptoms for most of these disorders. Pain may be treated with pain relievers and breathing is usually restored once fluid and air are removed from the pleural cavity.

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    There are three things that climbers should keep in mind regarding altitude sickness:

    • If you begin experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness, even if no one else is feeling afflicted, you should assume that you are sick.
    • Remember to"climb high, sleep low." In other words, do not ascend to a new altitude to sleep if you are experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.
    • If you not change altitudes and your symptoms are worse, descend as soon as possible.
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    A hemothorax is a collection of blood in the space between the chest wall. In order to treat a hemothorax, a chest tube, inserted through the chest wall, is used to remove the blood and air in the pleural space. It remains in place for several days to re-expand the lung. When a hemothorax is severe, a thoracotomy may be needed to stop the bleeding.
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    A chest tube is used to remove fluid or air in the pleural cavity caused by pleural cavity disorders. It is used for larger pockets of air and fluid, when the thoracentesis procedure (a needle inserted to remove fluid or air) will not suffice. An area of the skin between two ribs is anesthetized, and a tube is inserted into the fluid or air pocket. This tube can stay in for several days, and you will be required to stay in the hospital until it is removed