Respiratory Diseases

Breathing is one of the most basic yet important functions that our body performs. Most of us do not even give a minute’s thought to our breathing patterns, when everything is normal. However, for some individuals, breathing can be quite a task, especially if they suffer from some type of respiratory disease.

Respiratory disease is a broad term that can be used while referring to a series of conditions that affect the respiratory system in the human body. Therefore, any condition that affects your lungs, bronchial tubes, upper respiratory tract, trachea, pleural cavity or even your nerves and muscles that you use for breathing can be termed as a respiratory disease. There are several different types of respiratory diseases that you can suffer from and the severity of each type may vary. Some of the common types of respiratory diseases include inflammatory lung diseases, obstructive lung diseases, restrictive lung diseases, respiratory tract infections, pleural cavity diseases and pulmonary vascular diseases. Each of these respiratory problems can be further divided into sub–conditions, which could affect one or more part of your respiratory system. Some of the respiratory diseases are fairly mild and self-limiting, like the common cold. However, several forms of respiratory diseases like pulmonary embolism or bacterial pneumonia could also be life-threatening, if not checked and controlled in time.

Studies indicate that certain respiratory diseases are a leading cause of illnesses and death in the United States. In a year, approximately a billion people are afflicted with a common cold at least once. Given below is a list of the different respiratory diseases that are prevalent across the country:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Cancer (small cell lung cancer, lymphoma, melanoma and mesothelioma)
  • Common colds
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Emphysema
  • Infections like laryngitis, otitis media, sinusitis, pharyngitis and tonsillitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

There are many different ways in which respiratory disease can be classified. First of all, it is important to consider the organs that are affected. Of course, the causes of the condition, as well as the pattern of the symptoms play a very important role in the classification too. Some of these diseases last for no more than a few days and do not require medical treatment. However, other diseases could last for a longer period of time and may not get better, without proper medical treatment. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor, in case any of the symptoms of respiratory diseases become evident.

Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases

The symptoms for respiratory diseases are bound to changevary, based on the type of condition you are suffering from. Given below are some of the most common symptoms that can occur with different types of respiratory diseases:

  • Breathing Problems: In case of respiratory illnesses, you are likely to suffer from shortness of breath or wheezing problems especially after engaging in a strenuous activity or even mild exercises, such as walking or climbing the stairs. The wheezing sound is a sign that the airways have become narrower.
  • Coughing: You may notice an intermittent or continuous cough, usually accompanied by mucus. A sputum-producing cough is present in almost all cases of respiratory diseases and is in fact one of the first signs of trouble.
  • UneaseUneasiness: One of the common symptoms of any respiratory disease is a feeling of uneasiness and tightness in the chest area. In case you experience persistent sensations of tightness in the chest, you may want to check for the presence of an ailment in the respiratory tract. Chest pain , which usually triggers off panic and alarm in most people, is not necessarily indicative of cardiac trouble but could also be an indication of more severe respiratory diseases.
  • Swelling: This is one of the moreuncommon symptoms and can affect your fingers and toes. Therefore, in case you notice swelling in your finger or toes, accompanied by a cough, it may be best to check for a problem that is related to the respiratory system.
  • Blood: Some of the respiratory illnesses of greater severity may cause you to cough up some amount of blood along with sputum. This is one of the most severe symptoms of respiratory diseases and therefore, it should never be ignored or taken lightly.
  • Throat Ache: Due to excessive coughing, it is quite possible for you to suffer from pain and soreness in the throat. As a conseuquence of the soreness or inflammation you may also Your voice may also change a bit, or may become a bit hoarse. You may need to clear your throat repetitively in order to get some relief from this problem.

In general, a respiratory illness can have a debilitating effect on your overall health. Therefore, many people mistake respiratory illnesses for other health problems, mainly because they experience an overall feeling of fatigue and malaise. Loss of appetite, indigestion, severe weight loss and headaches are also quite common in respiratory diseases.

Causes of Respiratory Diseases

While the tobacco industry may have been demonized in recent times, and with good cause, not all respiratory ailments can be attributed to exposure to cigarette smoke. theySmoking cigarettes and passive smoking are however, the leading causes of most serious respiratory illnesses. Respiratory diseases can arise because of several different factors and it would help to keep this in mind. Given below are some of the most common causes of respiratory diseases:

  • Allergies and low immune functioning
  • Climatic conditions as well as excessive air pollution
  • Exposure to excess smoke, or other toxic material, which could include asbestos, harsh chemicals, dust, pollen and fibers
  • Genetic factors, where other members in the family, especially one or both of the parents are suffering from chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Inadequate development of the lungs before birth or during childhood
  • Nutritional as well as social deprivation, or unhealthy lifestyle practices
  • Presence of bacterial, viral or fungal infections, which can have a long term adverse effect on the health of the lungs

There are several diseases that could occur due to different causes. For example, pneumonia, which is a common respiratory disease, could occur due to the an infection with the streptococcus bacteria. However, other pathogens such as a virus or fungi can also lead to pneumonia. Another significant cause of tuberculosis in a large part of the world would be tuberculosis. This illness in turn could lead to severe complications, such as the development of a lung abscess, which is like a circular cavity in the lungs, triggered off by an infection.

Remedies for Respiratory Diseases

Medical attention and diagnosis is absolutely essential for any respiratory ailment that is severe or persistent, but milder conditions can be easily cured with the help of natural and simple home remedies. The scope of home remedies is however very vast and they can also be used in combination with conventional treatments to facilitate healing and improve responsiveness to drugs. Given below are some of the most commonly recommended remedies for respiratory diseases:

  • Gargle twice a day, using a solution made from warm water and salt. This not only helps to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of the condition, but also helps in clearing out the respiratory passages, which expedites the recovery process.
  • Consume a mixture that has been made from equal parts of honey and ginger. This can ease some of your breathing problems, thereby giving you faster relief from respiratory diseases.
  • Sterilize the environment at home and at the workplace, so that any bacteria, viruses, fungi or other harmful germs can be eradicated.
  • If you live in the city or in an enclosed environment it may be a good idea to go to a park to get in at least half an hour or so of fresh air each day.
  • Pour yourself a glass of warm milk and add half a teaspoon of fresh black pepper powder and a teaspoon of turmeric powder added to it. This is one of the best remedies for the common cold and soothes the respiratory tract.
  • Steam is an excellent remedy for the symptoms of most respiratory problems. While the best technique for steaming is for you to inhale the steam from some freshly boiled water, you could also spend around 15 minutes or so, in watera sauna, or simply allow your bathroom to fill with steam and indulge in a nice hot shower.

There are many other remedies that can also be quite effective in dealing with respiratory illnesses.

Diet for Respiratory Diseases

A healthy and nutritious diet can improve a person’s overall health and well being and at the same time, it could also have a positive effect on the functioning of your respiratory tract. The main aim of any diet for respiratory ailments would be to boost immunity giving your body’s natural defenses the ability to fight off infections more effectively. Given below are a few diet tips to combat respiratory diseases more effectively:

  • Chicken soup (homemade) can alleviate many health conditions and can also help overcome respiratory problems. This has actually been found to be quite effective as a remedy for sore throats because of its anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Drink a lot of water during the day, to dilute the mucus and flush out the toxins in the body. Warm water is more beneficial, as it alleviates some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of respiratory diseases.
  • Herbal tea has been known to bring about short-term relief from breathing and throat-related problems. Green tea also contains antioxidants, which are good for your health.
  • Increase your intake of foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, protein and other essential nutrients. HenceTo this aim, eat a higher amount of cereals, whole grains, fresh veggies, fruit and soy products. Moderate amounts of lean meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products (low fat) would also be a healthy addition to your diet.
  • Limit your intake of salt, as it affects the functioning of the lungs adversely. pProcessed foods, chips, crackers, condiments and so on, should be strictly avoided.
  • Decrease the amount of saturated fats that you consume in a day. This means that you need to cut down on fast food, junk food, fried food, sweets and so on.

Suggestion for Respiratory Diseases

In case remedies and dietary changes do not bring about the desired results, it may be best to seek medical treatment, in the form of conventional medication and therapies. Before trying to get respiratory diseases treated, it is important for you to consider several factors like the type of ailment, the stage it is in as well as its severity. Your age, family history and overall medical health will also play an important role factorsin your respiratory health. Even if you choose to treat respiratory diseases mainly using home remedies, it is important for you to consult a health care provider to ensure that the condition is nothing serious.

Respiratory ailments in children can be particularly problematic because they severely restrict the ability of the child to participate in various activities that most kids do. Parents need to take extra care and ensure that the child is provided with best possible treatment to overcome the condition. While caution is essential it’s important not to be overprotective as this could severely affect the growth and development of your child.

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