All Posts tagged lungs

Pneumonia and How to Avoid It

Pneumonia and How to Avoid It

You might take breathing for granted since it’s so simple. An unconscious effort drives your lungs to inhale and exhale, taking a backseat to other important thoughts you have throughout the day. However, since October is Healthy Lung Month, it’s important to shine a spotlight on one of the most important organs in your body. For many, breathing is not such a simple process.

In fact, people who catch pneumonia have quite a lot of trouble breathing. Pneumonia is an infection of the lung that is caused by bacteria, a virus, or fungi. Anyone can develop pneumonia regardless of age, race, or health. While it is typically a side effect of the flu, pneumonia can be caused by over 30 different things. Most people can recover from it in one to three weeks, but for some people it is fatal.

How Pneumonia Affects Your Body

Once the germs that cause pneumonia infiltrate your body and get past all of your defenses, you may start to experience coughing, fever, chills, and trouble breathing. This is because the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs swell and begin to fill with fluid. Additionally, this may prevent oxygen from reaching your blood, leading to the death of cells in your body. Additional symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that worsens with breathing or coughing
  • Excessive sweating and clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Confusion (especially in the elderly)
  • Loss of appetite, low energy, and fatigue

How to Avoid Catching Pneumonia

Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine to prevent all strains of pneumonia. However, there are some things you can do to make yourself less likely to contract the illness. Standard procedures such as washing your hands and leading a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for keeping you germ free and your immune system healthy. It also helps to get vaccinated against the flu, as this is a common cause of pneumonia. Other risk factors that might exacerbate your chance of catching pneumonia include:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic lung diseases like COPD
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Living in a nursing facility
  • Recent surgery or trauma

What to Do if You Catch Pneumonia

Even when taking the utmost care, there’s still a chance you might get pneumonia. If you do, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Also be sure to get plenty of rest as your body needs time to fight off the infection. If you have a fever, use aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to bring it down. Depending on the type of pneumonia you have, your doctor may prescribe anti-viral medication or antibiotics. Let your doctor know if you develop any severe symptoms or your illness doesn’t go away, as this could lead to complications such as:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Sepsis
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Lung abscesses
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Are You at Risk for COPD?

Are You at Risk for COPD?

COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a type of lung disease which inhibits your breathing abilities. This includes the diseases chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Ultimately, the disease worsens over time, making it progressively harder for you to breathe in a normal manner.

As COPD develops, less air is able to flow in and out of the airways of your lungs because of a loss of elasticity, destruction or hardening of the walls in between them, or an abnormal abundance of mucus. Unfortunately, the major cause of COPD is smoking, which means it is preventable in many cases.

Take the quiz below to test your risk of developing COPD. Although there is no cure for COPD, the best treatment is staying healthy and stopping the use of cigarettes. Those with a point score of greater than 2 on the quiz are at a greater risk of developing COPD. Those with a quiz score of 2 and under are not currently at risk for developing COPD.

Are you at risk for COPD?

24 million Americans currently have COPD, but 12 million don’t even know they have it! Take this test to see if you are at risk for the disease.

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