Respiratory Diseases – An Overview

· homeopathy
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A Guest Post by Michael Ravitsky of FactoryPure.com

Introduction

Asthma, allergies, and chronic bronchitis – we either suffer from one of these conditions or we know someone who does.  Millions of people have chronic respiratory issues, and this article will explain the basics of the most common ones.  The big idea with respiratory diseases is a hypersensitivity to foreign particles [click to tweet] that are not inherently dangerous; this concept underlines asthma, allergies, bronchitis, emphysema (damaged lung air sacs) and related conditions.

Allergies

Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen

Many people know that the coming of spring season means stocking up on tissues, but millions experience allergy symptoms all year round.  We probably do not know exactly why we are allergic to dust or pollen while our brother is not, or why one of our friends is allergic to cats.

Why is it that people who live in the same environment or have similar genetics vary so greatly in how their bodies react to foreign substances?

The truth is that doctors do not really know, either!  The scientific community cannot currently say for certain why some people develop allergies to random things while their siblings or friends do not.

What we do know, however, is the process behind allergies.  In very simplified summary, our body has a natural mechanism for dealing with harmful things we may breathe in, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungal spores.  The inflammatory response is a set of physiological processes meant to quarantine or destroy foreign irritants; this response may involve swelling, mucus production, and the stimulation of antibodies via a neurotransmitter and an antigen called Histamine.

In people with allergies, this response is induced at inappropriate times, such as when pollen spores or pet dander enters the airways.  The immune system sees them as harmful pathogens, and it reacts to them as such.  Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, irritated or watery eyes, sinus pressure, or a runny nose.

Asthma

Asthma

Unlike allergies, which are sensitivities to very specific substances, asthma is a general respiratory oversensitivity that, many times, develops within the first few years of life.  While most cases of allergies are uncomfortable and inconvenient, asthma is often dangerous and must be monitored with prescription medication.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory sensitivity. The muscles lining the walls of the lung’s airways tighten when foreign irritants enter.  This is usually caused by pathogens, which include bacteria, viruses, spores, and other harmful particulates.  The tightening of these muscles and the production of mucus are part of the inflammatory response, which is the immune system’s autonomous protective measure against harmful particles.

In asthma patients, the problem is that relatively harmless particles trigger this inflammatory response.  Even low or short-term exposure to dust particles, mold spores, pollen, pet dander, and fumes can elicit severe tightening of the airways.  This is simply an anomaly within the immune system; the body is reacting to various substances as though they were harmful or infectious substances.

Like allergies, asthma involves an overreaction to foreign particles; however, asthma sufferers are generally sensitive to a much wider array of substances, including pollen, mold spores, dust particles, pet dander, smoke, and odor particles.

An asthma attack is a sudden and severe tightening of the airways, which causes chest tightness, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.  Asthma is often treated with medicines known as bronchodilators, which function to relax the muscles in the airways and widen the channels through which air flows during breaths.

The severity of a patient’s asthma symptoms can ease over time with proper treatment and care.  It also helps to move away from areas with air pollution and monitor the overall intake of fumes and airborne irritants.

As with allergies, the medical community cannot say with complete certainty why this oversensitivity develops in some people and not in others, although studies point to two strong correlations: heredity and environmental air quality.  People whose parents have asthma are far more likely to develop the condition, along with those who experience prolonged exposure to polluted environments.

Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a condition defined by inflammation within the bronchial tubes of the lungs.  Chronic bronchitis is when a patient experiences bronchitis frequently over long periods of time; in other words, it is a chronic respiratory oversensitivity.  The symptoms and triggers are very similar to asthma; in fact, many people have trouble differentiating between the two conditions.

Unlike asthma, chronic bronchitis most often occurs later in life.  This is because chronic bronchitis almost always occurs as a result of one of two things: smoking or prolonged exposure to fine industrial dust, such as in metal or coal mining.  Chronic bronchitis develops later in life, since smoking is, by far, the most common cause.

Chronic bronchitis is one of the two main diseases that make up Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  Most cases of COPD involve smoking as an underlying cause.  The other disease within COPD is emphysema, which is slightly different in that it involves the deterioration of alveoli, the air sacs of the lungs.  Both diseases, however, lead to breathing difficulties that include lower lung capacity, less-full breaths, coughing, and wheezing due to the production of bronchial mucus.

In Closing

Smoking causes irreversible lung damage, so chronic bronchitis is often more severe and debilitating than asthma and allergies.  None of the diseases has a “full cure” by any means, but asthma and allergies can usually be controlled with medicine, and symptoms often subside later in life with proper care and treatment.  Chronic bronchitis is something that typically gets worse, especially if the patient does not quit smoking.  There is medication available for both diseases in terms of temporarily easing tightness and inflammation and looming oversensitivity in either case.

As you can see, there are many different ways in which our lungs can be sensitive to foreign particles.  These sensitivities range from being uncomfortable to being deadly.  People induce some of these diseases by breathing in harmful fumes over time, such as smoke or the dust found in coal or metal mines.  Other conditions develop early on and without concretely-defined causes.  Try to protect your lungs from fumes, industrial pollution, and organic particulates.

Sources of Information and Diagrams

1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
2. U.S. National Library of Medicine
3. National Center for Biotechnology Information

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About the Author: Michael Ravitsky

Michael Ravitsky

Michael Ravitsky

Michael Ravitsky is a part-time small business owner in USA and business student eyeing a future MBA.  He has suffered from chronic allergies his whole life and has made it his mission to find a solution that is effective, logical, and practical.  He has put his passion into FactoryPure.com, a retailer of air quality maintenance products and hypoallergenic home goods, which he sees as one piece of the puzzle in treating respiratory sensitivities.  In addition to FactoryPure, Michael has been managing small online retail businesses since 2007.

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The Copyright is reserved with the Author (Michael Ravitsky). All opinions are that of the author.

The above Guest Post is the 19th in the GUEST BLOG SERIES. For reading previous Guest Posts check out https://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/guest-blog-series

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6 Comments

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  1. Dr. Nancy Malik

    Thank You Michael for explaining the key points of differences between allergies, asthma and bronchitis.

    Guidelines for Respiratory Tract Infections – NICE (2008)

  2. It's Good News Week

    Thank you .. an interesting article. I used to suffer from asthma attacks when I was a teenager .. do you have any ideas on why some people ‘grow out’ of this condition?

    • Michael

      Thank you for the feedback! As to why some people “grow out” of it, I can only speculate. However, I would think it involves the fact that our bodies tend to adapt to our environment. For example, if you are placed in a room with a certain odor, you will notice less and less of the odor over time, even if the concentration remains constant. This is called sensory adaptation. Along the same lines, I think our bodies become familiar with our surroundings in other ways. Perhaps the scientific and medical communities will be able to tell us for certain within the coming years!

  3. debbybruck

    Dear Michael – I’m sorry to hear that you suffer from respiratory sensitivities. It sounds like you have put your passion into finding an indoor environmental solution. What happens when you leave your home? Have you found any immune boosting solutions to lessen your severe reactivity? Sincerely, Debby

    • Michael

      Hi Debby –

      I have had a sensitive system my whole life – I had to have my adenoids and tonsils removed when I was 5 years old – so I have grown up accustomed to being sensitive. I usually keep some tissues on me and try to avoid dusty areas. Thankfully, I am not as sensitive to outdoor allergens like pollen and mold, but interior dust is something that is unavoidable.

      I had all carpet removed from my home and keep things like rugs and plush cushions to a minimum, since these types of things tend to grab onto dust and other irritants. I also run an air purifier and do frequent dusting and surface cleaning.

      An interesting thing is that I was overweight as a child, and I eventually started eating much cleaner and exercising regularly. I lost the weight and noticed that I get sick less often, react less severely to dust, and no longer get random headaches as I used to. This could just be correlation versus causation since getting older tends to harden our systems, but I think that what we eat and how we treat our bodies plays a significant role in ostensibly unrelated things, including immune and respiratory over-reactivity.

      Regards,
      Michael

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