Tag Archives: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

globalization_intro

Traveling is exciting, but it presents multiple challenges to your health. To best meet these challenges, preparation is everything.

Travel-health-insurance-for-international-travelers

Before you travel and every time you travel, your surest means of protecting yourself is to confirm you are current on routine vaccines.

  • Your basic vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and influenza.
  • Most international travelers will need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid.
  • Depending on where you’re international travels take you and the duration of your trip, you may need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and/or yellow fever.

The plane trip itself can be hazardous to your health. I encourage you to review the risks of flying.

international-health-insurance-300x166

Diseases have different patterns in how they spread and their resistance to medications in different countries. It is important to be aware of prominent diseases affecting the countries you plan to visit, because some may be uncommon in your home country. For Americans traveling abroad, such diseases include the following:

  • HIV/AIDS 
  • Malaria: an infectious disease caused by a parasite, which invades the blood cells. It is notable for the presence of high fever, shaking chills, low blood count and a flu-like set of symptoms.
  • Pandemic/avian flu (aka the bird flu): an infectious disease in birds caused by a virus that can spread to humans
  • Travelers’ diarrhea –  the most common disease acquired by travelers.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious disease involving the lungs, able to spread throughout the body

I strongly recommend that you develop a habit of checking the CDC travel site every time you prepare to travel internationally, including those of you coming from abroad into the United States. Detailed information on these diseases is available by clicking the links, checking the search engine and at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

heart-disease

The fourth part of this series looks at your heart and lungs.

And now to today’s post.

One thing the heart and lung share in common is, left to their own devices, they could function normally for much longer than typically ends up occurring. It’s important to discuss because heart disease is the most common cause of death in people 65 and over, and it is also the most frequent cause of activity limitations. Let’s quickly review changes, challenges and solutions.

agingheart

Heart Changes: Coronary artery disease increases as your activity declines. Blockages accumulate on the inside of your arteries, and they harden as they lose their elasticity. Both of these factors resulting in lessened blood flow. High blood pressure increases with age, independently and as a result of this.

aginglungs

Lung Changes: The air sacs, airways, and tissues lose elasticity and become more rigid with age. In general however, serious disease notwithstanding, the respiratory system can serve one well throughout a very long life. However, if you’re a smoker or have lung disease (e.g. asthma, COPD), the reversible damage to the lungs starts becoming irreversible about age 35. At that time, you in effect begin tearing out useful lung tissue, which diminishes your respiratory capacity and sets you up for chronic bronchitis and cancer, as the body attempts to repair this damage and does so incorrectly.

Challenges: In the absence of structural disease or continuing to expose yourself to toxins (e.g. cigarettes), the effects of these changes on our health status need not be severe. The social implications of the effects of normal changes due to aging often would not hamper reasonable normal functioning. The real challenge is to avoid inhaling toxins that will harm you (duh, right?).

Solutions: This is much simpler than you’d think and mostly involves prevention. The biological changes can be greatly diminished and held off by a regular, strenuous exercise regimen that causes deep breathing and elevation of your heart rate over a period of time and by avoidance of toxins, especially cigarette smoke and fatty foods. Your heart and lungs are well situated for the long haul in the absence of bad genes and bad habits.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

Filed under Cardiology/Heart, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

globalization_intro

Traveling is exciting, but it presents multiple challenges to your health. To best meet these challenges, preparation is everything.

Travel-health-insurance-for-international-travelers

Before you travel and every time you travel, your surest means of protecting yourself is to confirm you are current on routine vaccines.

  • Your basic vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and influenza.
  • Most international travelers will need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid.
  • Depending on where you’re international travels take you and the duration of your trip, you may need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and/or yellow fever.

The plane trip itself can be hazardous to your health. I encourage you to review the risks of flying.

international-health-insurance-300x166

Diseases have different patterns in how they spread and their resistance to medications in different countries. It is important to be aware of prominent diseases affecting the countries you plan to visit, because some may be uncommon in your home country. For Americans traveling abroad, such diseases include the following:

  • HIV/AIDS 
  • Malaria: an infectious disease caused by a parasite, which invades the blood cells. It is notable for the presence of high fever, shaking chills, low blood count and a flu-like set of symptoms.
  • Pandemic/avian flu (aka as the bird flu): an infectious disease in birds caused by a virus that can spread to humans
  • Travelers’ diarrhea –  the most common disease acquired by travelers.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious disease involving the lungs, able to spread throughout the body

I strongly recommend that you develop a habit of checking the CDC travel site every time you prepare to travel internationally, including those of you coming from abroad into the United States. Detailed information on these diseases is available clicking the links, checking the search engine and at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Asthma – Toothpicks and Snot (Part 2 of 2)

asthma_treatments_496958

As we move into discussing asthma treatment, remember that asthmatics die at an alarming rate.  I mentioned yesterday (and it bears repeating) that death rates have increased over 50% in the last few decades.  If you’re an asthmatic, avoid taking care of yourself at your own peril.  Your next asthma attack could be your last.

The other thing to remember is that asthma is a reversible disease – until it’s not.  At some point (beginning somewhere around age 35 or so), the ongoing inflammation and damage to the lungs will create some irreversible changes, and then the situation’s completely different, possibly predisposing asthmatics to other conditions such as chronic bronchitis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and lung cancer.  This simply reiterates the importance of identifying and removing those triggers.

Given that, let’s talk about asthma control as treatment.  Consider the following quick tips you might use to help you reduce or virtually eliminate asthma attacks:

asthmatriggers

  • Avoid cigarette smoke (including second hand smoke) like the plague!
  • Avoid long haired animals, especially cats.
  • Avoid shaggy carpets, window treatments or other household fixtures that retain dust.
  • If you’re spraying any kind of aerosol, if it’s allergy season, if you’re handling trash, or if you react to cold weather, wear a mask while you’re doing it.  It’s better to not look cool for a few moments than to have to look at an emergency room for a few hours or a hospital room for a few days.
  • Be careful to avoid colds and the flu.  Get that flu shot yearly.

If and when all of this fails, and you’re actually in the midst of an asthma attack, treatment options primarily center around two types of medications.

AsthmaHispanic

  • Short (and quick) acting bronchodilators (e.g. albuterol, ventolin, proventil, xopenex, alupent, maxair) functionally serve as props (‘toothpicks’, no not real ones, and don’t try to use toothpicks at home) to keep the airways open against the onslaught of mucous buildup inside the lungs combined with other inflammatory changes trying to clog the airways.  These medications do not treat the underlying condition.  They only buy you time and attempt to keep the airways open for…
  • Steroids (e.g. prednisone, prelone, orapred, solumedrol, decadron – none of which are the muscle building kind) are the mainstay of acute asthma treatment, as they combat the inflammatory reaction and other changes that cause the asthma attack.  One can functionally think of steroids as a dump truck moving in to scoop the snot out of the airways.  The only issue with the steroids is they take 2-4 hours to start working, so you have to both get them on board as early as possible while continuing to use the bronchodilators to stem the tide until the steroids kick in.

asthma-inhaler-techniques-15-638

If you are not successful in avoiding those triggers over the long term, you may need to be placed on ‘controller’ medications at home, which include lower doses of long-acting bronchodilators and steroids.

So in summary, the best treatment of asthma is management of its causes.  Avoid the triggers, thus reducing your acute attacks.  Become educated about signs of an attack.  When needed, get help sooner rather than later.  And always keep an inhaler on you.  It could be the difference between life and death.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

 

 

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Asthma – Toothpicks and Snot (Part 2 of 2)

Filed under Medical Treatment, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

heart-disease

The fourth part of this series looks at your heart and lungs.

And now to today’s post.

One thing the heart and lung share in common is, left to their own devices, they could function normally for much longer than typically ends up occurring. It’s important to discuss because heart disease is the most common cause of death in people 65 and over, and it is also the most frequent cause of activity limitations. Let’s quickly review changes, challenges and solutions.

agingheart

Heart Changes: Coronary artery disease increases as your activity declines. Blockages accumulate on the inside of your arteries, and they harden as they lose their elasticity. Both of these factors resulting in lessened blood flow. High blood pressure increases with age, independently and as a result of this.

aginglungs

Lung Changes: The air sacs, airways, and tissues lose elasticity and become more rigid with age. In general however, serious disease notwithstanding, the respiratory system can serve one well throughout a very long life. However, if you’re a smoker or have lung disease (e.g. asthma, COPD), the reversible damage to the lungs starts becoming irreversible about age 35. At that time, you in effect begin tearing out useful lung tissue, which diminishes your respiratory capacity and sets you up for chronic bronchitis and cancer, as the body attempts to repair this damage and does so incorrectly.

Challenges: In the absence of structural disease or continuing to expose yourself to toxins (e.g. cigarettes), the effects of these changes on our health status need not be severe. The social implications of the effects of normal changes due to aging often would not hamper reasonable normal functioning. The real challenge is to avoid inhaling toxins that will harm you (duh, right?).

Solutions: This is much simpler than you’d think and mostly involves prevention. The biological changes can be greatly diminished and held off by a regular, strenuous exercise regimen that causes deep breathing and elevation of your heart rate over a period of time and by avoidance of toxins, especially cigarette smoke and fatty foods. Your heart and lungs are well situated for the long haul in the absence of bad genes and bad habits.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

Filed under Cardiology/Heart, Health Prevention, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

globalization_intro

Traveling is exciting, but it presents multiple challenges to your health. To best meet these challenges, preparation is everything.

Travel-health-insurance-for-international-travelers

Before you travel and every time you travel, your surest means of protecting yourself is to confirm you are current on routine vaccines.

  • Your basic vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and influenza.
  • Most international travelers will need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid.
  • Depending on where you’re international travels take you and the duration of your trip, you may need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and/or yellow fever.

The plane trip itself can be hazardous to your health. I encourage you to review the risks of flying.

international-health-insurance-300x166

Diseases have different patterns in how they spread and their resistance to medications in different countries. It is important to be aware of prominent diseases affecting the countries you plan to visit, because some may be uncommon in your home country. For Americans traveling abroad, such diseases include the following:

  • HIV/AIDS 
  • Malaria: an infectious disease caused by a parasite, which invades the blood cells. It is notable for the presence of high fever, shaking chills, low blood count and a flu-like set of symptoms.
  • Pandemic/avian flu (aka as the bird flu): an infectious disease in birds caused by a virus that can spread to humans
  • Travelers’ diarrhea –  the most common disease acquired by travelers.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious disease involving the lungs, able to spread throughout the body

I strongly recommend that you develop a habit of checking the CDC travel site every time you prepare to travel internationally, including those of you coming from abroad into the United States. Detailed information on these diseases is available clicking the links, checking the search engine and at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant with any questions you have on this topic.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

3 Comments

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Asthma – Toothpicks and Snot (Part 2 of 2)

asthma_treatments_496958

As we move into discussing asthma treatment, remember that asthmatics die at an alarming rate.  I mentioned yesterday (and it bears repeating) that death rates have increased over 50% in the last few decades.  If you’re an asthmatic, avoid taking care of yourself at your own peril.  Your next asthma attack could be your last.

The other thing to remember is that asthma is a reversible disease – until it’s not.  At some point (beginning somewhere around age 35 or so), the ongoing inflammation and damage to the lungs will create some irreversible changes, and then the situation’s completely different, possibly predisposing asthmatics to other conditions such as chronic bronchitis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and lung cancer.  This simply reiterates the importance of identifying and removing those triggers.

Given that, let’s talk about asthma control as treatment.  Consider the following quick tips you might use to help you reduce or virtually eliminate asthma attacks:

asthmatriggers

  • Avoid cigarette smoke (including second hand smoke) like the plague!
  • Avoid long haired animals, especially cats.
  • Avoid shaggy carpets, window treatments or other household fixtures that retain dust.
  • If you’re spraying any kind of aerosol, if it’s allergy season, if you’re handling trash, or if you react to cold weather, wear a mask while you’re doing it.  It’s better to not look cool for a few moments than to have to look at an emergency room for a few hours or a hospital room for a few days.
  • Be careful to avoid colds and the flu.  Get that flu shot yearly.

If and when all of this fails, and you’re actually in the midst of an asthma attack, treatment options primarily center around two types of medications.

AsthmaHispanic

  • Short (and quick) acting bronchodilators (e.g. albuterol, ventolin, proventil, xopenex, alupent, maxair) functionally serve as props (‘toothpicks’, no not real ones, and don’t try to use toothpicks at home) to keep the airways open against the onslaught of mucous buildup inside the lungs combined with other inflammatory changes trying to clog the airways.  These medications do not treat the underlying condition.  They only buy you time and attempt to keep the airways open for…
  • Steroids (e.g. prednisone, prelone, orapred, solumedrol, decadron – none of which are the muscle building kind) are the mainstay of acute asthma treatment, as they combat the inflammatory reaction and other changes that cause the asthma attack.  One can functionally think of steroids as a dump truck moving in to scoop the snot out of the airways.  The only issue with the steroids is they take 2-4 hours to start working, so you have to both get them on board as early as possible while continuing to use the bronchodilators to stem the tide until the steroids kick in.

asthma-inhaler-techniques-15-638

If you are not successful in avoiding those triggers over the long term, you may need to be placed on ‘controller’ medications at home, which include lower doses of long-acting bronchodilators and steroids.

So in summary, the best treatment of asthma is management of its causes.  Avoid the triggers, thus reducing your acute attacks.  Become educated about signs of an attack.  When needed, get help sooner rather than later.  And always keep an inhaler on you.  It could be the difference between life and death.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

 

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Understanding Asthma – Toothpicks and Snot (Part 2 of 2)

Filed under Medical Treatment, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

heart-disease

The fourth part of this series looks at your heart and lungs.

And now to today’s post.

One thing the heart and lung share in common is, left to their own devices, they could function normally for much longer than typically ends up occurring. It’s important to discuss because heart disease is the most common cause of death in people 65 and over, and it is also the most frequent cause of activity limitations. Let’s quickly review changes, challenges and solutions.

agingheart

Heart Changes: Coronary artery disease increases as your activity declines. Blockages accumulate on the inside of your arteries, and they harden as they lose their elasticity. Both of these factors resulting in lessened blood flow. High blood pressure increases with age, independently and as a result of this.

aginglungs

Lung Changes: The air sacs, airways, and tissues lose elasticity and become more rigid with age. In general however, serious disease notwithstanding, the respiratory system can serve one well throughout a very long life. However, if you’re a smoker or have lung disease (e.g. asthma, COPD), the reversible damage to the lungs starts becoming irreversible about age 35. At that time, you in effect begin tearing out useful lung tissue, which diminishes your respiratory capacity and sets you up for chronic bronchitis and cancer, as the body attempts to repair this damage and does so incorrectly.

Challenges: In the absence of structural disease or continuing to expose yourself to toxins (e.g. cigarettes), the effects of these changes on our health status need not be severe. The social implications of the effects of normal changes due to aging often would not hamper reasonable normal functioning. The real challenge is to avoid inhaling toxins that will harm you (duh, right?).

Solutions: This is much simpler than you’d think and mostly involves prevention. The biological changes can be greatly diminished and held off by a regular, strenuous exercise regimen that causes deep breathing and elevation of your heart rate over a period of time and by avoidance of toxins, especially cigarette smoke and fatty foods. Your heart and lungs are well situated for the long haul in the absence of bad genes and bad habits.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright, Sterling Initiatives, LLC. 2013-2015

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cardiopulmonary (Heart and Lung) System

Filed under Cardiology/Heart, General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: COPD

COPDer

You already know a lot about COPD without realizing it or even having to think about it. You’ve seen patients walking around with the oxygen tanks or tubes in their noses. However, that’s just the extreme. COPD is the third or fourth leading cause of death in the US depending on the source, with millions of individuals diagnosed. You also know COPD and cancers are why your doctors always warn you against smoking in any form. You know smoking is the leading cause of this. This Straight, No Chaser provides a brief overview of COPD and answers some key questions.

emphysema

What Is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and advances in severity over time.

Appreciate that air goes from your mouth or nose through the windpipe (trachea) through several branches of airways, eventually connecting to blood vessels meant to carry oxygen to the organs of your body. These same blood vessels drop off waste gas known as carbon dioxide, which we exhale with each breath out. In COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways because of one or more of the following:

  • The airways and air sacs lose their elasticity. Elasticity is the stretchiness your lungs need to fill up with and push out air. In COPD, these sacs act less like a balloon and more like a lead pipe.
  • The airways make more mucus than usual, which clog them and make breathing more difficult. The inflammation caused by smoke and other irritants produce mucus. It’s not a good thing when instead of breathing air, you’re attempting to breathe a smoke-filled swamp of snot-like material.
  • The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed. Over time, inflammation can cause permanent changes in the walls of the airways to compensate for the environment you’ve created.
  • The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed. Ongoing inflammation overwhelms the body’s ability to repair itself, and eventually sheets of tissue in your airways are destroyed beyond repair, providing you with less tissue to exchange oxygen from the lungs to the blood vessels that carry oxygen through the body.

 COPD

What causes COPD?

Cigarette smoking is far and away the leading cause of COPD. Most of those with COPD are current or former smokers. Heredity, childhood respiratory infections, and long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust may contribute to or cause COPD.

COPD pix

I’ve been told I have bronchitis. Is that the same thing?

There’s acute bronchitis, and there’s chronic bronchitis. In the US, COPD refers to two separate but similar conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis; most with COPD have both conditions. Now if you have acute bronchitis, it means something (like and likely cigarette smoke) is currently inflaming your airways. Over time this can permanently damage the airways and produce an ongoing state of inflammation – chronic bronchitis – with airway wall thickening and increased mucus production within the lungs. Let the smoker beware.

How is this different from emphysema?

In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged, losing their shape and elasticity. This damage also can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer, larger and less efficient air sacs instead of many more efficient tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the lungs is reduced, meaning you’re not getting enough oxygen in you and enough carbon dioxide out of you.

 copd sx

What are some symptoms of COPD?

COPD can cause coughing with mucus production, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, decreased ability to exert yourself and walk around. Even more symptoms may develop as a result of inadequate oxygen supply and inadequate carbon dioxide disposal.

How can I know if I have COPD?

One big problem with COPD is many have the disease and don’t know it until it starts becoming quite advanced. It’s safe to assume that if you’re a smoker and have difficulty breathing, you’re experiencing changes to your airways that aren’t in your best interest. You are advised to get evaluated. You are best advised to remove yourself from the source of the inflammation (in other words, stop smoking).

How does COPD affect my life?

For starters, it shortens it. It also markedly increases your cancer risk. At some point all the damage and changes to your lungs is going to cause some abnormality. Given this is the area you use to breath, deliver oxygen to your organs and eliminate toxins from your body, all manners of things can go wrong, and they often do. COPD is a chronic, progressive disease. You may or may not pick up on the slow creep of diminishing ability to perform routine activities, or maybe you’ll just attribute them to aging (COPD occurs most often in middle-aged to elderly individuals). Once severe enough, COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, breathing without difficulty, or taking care of yourself.

What’s the cure for this?

Here’s the frightening part: we’re talking about irreversible lung tissue change and destruction. Once layers of your airways have been ripped out (figuratively), they aren’t coming back. The damage is done. Prevention is your best defense.

 COPD treatment-chart

So how is it treated?

There is no real treatment without removing the trigger feeding the ongoing inflammation. In other words, you’ll have to stop smoking to attempt to arrest the progression. Additional measures involve support.

  • Supplemental oxygen may be needed to deliver enough oxygen to the tissues as an effort to combat the destruction and inflammation of tissue meant to facilitate oxygen exchange.
  • Medicines to reduce the inflammation and mucus may be prescribed.
  • Medicines to better open the airways past the clogging caused by inflammation and mucus may be prescribed.

Your physician will discuss these and other options. The truth is COPD has no cure. Once you’re discovered to have COPD, efforts switch to slowing the progression and implementing measures to improve the quality of your life within the parameters defined by the advancement of your disease.

Here is a short video from the National Institutes of Health.

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Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

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Traveling is exciting, but it presents multiple challenges to your health. To best meet these challenges, preparation is everything.

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Before you travel and every time you travel, your surest means of protecting yourself is to confirm you are current on routine vaccines.

  • Your basic vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and influenza.
  • Most international travelers will need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid.
  • Depending on where you’re international travels take you and the duration of your trip, you may need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and/or yellow fever.

The plane trip itself can be hazardous to your health. I encourage you to review the risks of flying.

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Diseases have different patterns in how they spread and their resistance to medications in different countries. It is important to be aware of prominent diseases affecting the countries you plan to visit, because some may be uncommon in your home country. For Americans traveling abroad, such diseases include the following:

  • HIV/AIDS 
  • Malaria: an infectious disease caused by a parasite, which invades the blood cells. It is notable for the presence of high fever, shaking chills, low blood count and a flu-like set of symptoms.
  • Pandemic/avian flu (aka as the bird flu): an infectious disease in birds caused by a virus that can spread to humans
  • Travelers’ diarrhea –  the most common disease acquired by travelers.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious disease involving the lungs, able to spread throughout the body

I strongly recommend that you develop a habit of checking the CDC travel site every time you prepare to travel internationally, including those of you coming from abroad into the United States. Detailed information on these diseases is available clicking the links, checking the search engine and at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant with any questions you have on this topic.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what  http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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