The respiratory system, one of the most important elements in our body, is responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. It does suffer from different conditions, which can affect its working. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatments of these common respiratory conditions is essential to successful patient care. To observe World Lung Day 2023 on September 25, Dr Swapnil Mehta, Pulmonologist, Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai has shared his inputs about the causes, symptoms and treatments of common respiratory conditions.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Common triggers include allergens (e.g., pollen, pet dander), irritants (e.g., cigarette smoke, perfume, paint or cleaning products), respiratory infections, exercise, or genetic factors. Asthma signs and symptoms can vary but may include wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing or tightness in the chest. These signs change mildly to intensely and periodically. But the good news is you can live well with asthma with medicines like inhalers that have bronchodilators (medications to relax your airways) and anti-inflammatory drugs (medications to reduce swelling in your airways). It’s important to identify and stay away from triggers, as well as work with a doctor/healthcare provider to make an asthma action plan.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a chronic lung disease worsened over time due to continuous inhalation of smoking or dust, generally. Symptoms include coughing continuously, breathlessness (particularly during strenuous physical activities), excess mucus production, and decreased ability to tolerate strenuous physical activities. COPD cannot be cured, but it can be controlled using drugs like bronchodilators and corticosteroids. In cases of more serious damage, they might suggest pulmonary rehabilitation programs to improve lung function or oxygen therapy.
Pneumonia is an infection causing inflammation of air sacs within the lungs on one or both sides. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Symptoms are common and may include a fever, coughing up mucus from the lungs, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the cause. Antibiotics are usually used to treat bacterial pneumonia; antiviral medications sometimes help viral pneumonia. Symptoms can be managed with a lot of rest, drinking fluids, and pain relievers.
Bronchitis is a swelling of the airways in the lungs that carry air to your stomach and back again (bronchial tubes). It can be acute (quick) or continuing (lasting). Viral infections are the most common cause of acute bronchitis, with symptoms such as cough, congestion, and mucous production. Chronic bronchitis is often associated with smoking and is characterized by a long-lasting, chronic cough, with substantial amounts of mucus, for three months per year for two years in a row. Rest, hydration and OTC remedies are common treatment approaches. For persons with the chronic type of this disease, quitting smoking is very important.