Do you have asthma?
If you do you are not alone. It is estimated that more than 25 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, and a large percentage of them are children.
Asthma is an ?obstructive? lung condition. The swelling and reactivity of the airways causes an obstruction to expelling the air necessary to take the next good breath and so on and so forth.
The obstruction in the airways with asthma is typically reversible. It reacts to medications that relieve the conditions causing the distress.
Do you smoke?
Smoking is the leading cause of two other, more chronic ?obstructive? lung conditions:
Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis.
November is National COPD Awareness Month. COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
?Pulmonary? is a medical term that means having to do with the lungs. Your lungs are made up of a bunch of little air sacs and tubes that bring the air to the air sacs when you breathe in and take the air out when you exhale. Think of a bunch of grapes with the stems being the airways and grapes being the air sacs
Oxygen leaves the air through the walls of these air sacs and enters your blood via the capillaries in those walls. At the same time carbon dioxide is delivered from the blood in those walls to the air sacs so that you can exhale it.
Out with the bad, in with the good.
These little air sacs are called alveoli and the tubes, or airways are bronchi or bronchioles as they get smaller.
In healthy lungs these little air sacs are stretchy. They expand like balloons and then contract to push the air out. And the little airways are having fun too as they help move the air in and out with ease.
But what happens if you have long term exposure to lung irritants? Maybe air pollution or some other type of chemical irritant like a pack of Camels or Marlboro Lights?
The little air sacs aren?t stretchy and elastic anymore and now they trap air.
The delicate walls of the air sacs that have all that blood flow that moves the oxygen and carbon dioxide to where they need to go, those walls are breaking down exposing less blood flow and creating larger sacs now even less stretchy and trapping more air.
And what about those grape stems? Those little airways? They are not having fun anymore either. They are thickened and full of goop and trapping even more air still.
And maybe now you are coughing. Maybe your chest has trapped enough air that it?s shaped like a barrel. Maybe you are now exhaling through lips that are ?pursed? creating some resistance as you exhale because that helps you get more air out.
Maybe now you are experiencing symptoms of the emphysema or chronic bronchitis that has developed over a long time and you didn?t realize it.
COPD is not funny. As a Respiratory Care Practitioner who spent many years in the hospital and the home care setting, I have met many really nice people who suffered from a not so nice and a never forgiving disease. There is no cure. COPD is a major cause of disability because at some point even something as simple as walking to the kitchen to boil some water is a major task.
And it’s the third leading cause of death in the United States.
There is no cure.
If you smoke??.quit.
I am an ex-smoker, I know it?s tough.
Allow yourself the opportunity to run half marathons when you are fifty eight years old.
Allow yourself the opportunity to pick up your forty something pound four year old grandson and laugh and enjoy it.
Save some money.
Save your life.
But just quit.
Chief Operating Officer
Sport and Spine Rehab