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21 Diseases and problems of the upper and lower respiratory tract and how to fend them off

20 diseases and problems of the upper respiratory tract and how to fend them off e1656217664477

My breathing is heavy...

– Why am I sneezing now?

– Why did I get a sore throat?

– Strange! I am coughing greenish mucus!

Globally, respiratory diseases in 2017 accounted for 7% of total death. In 2020, 7.6% of the people who died in Canada were due to respiratory disease.

In Alberta, Canada, the leading cause of hospital admission is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with a ratio of 3.5% of total admissions.

Ogden Pharmacy, as a caring community pharmacy in Calgary, decided to provide more insights and information about 21 possible respiratory diseases, disorders, and problems that Calgary residents may encounter or experience.

A human respiratory system is a group of sequential organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The rib cage protects the lungs, which are the main organs of the respiratory system. The nose, throat, and trachea are also part of the respiratory system.

The respiratory system (both upper and lower tracts) is susceptible to a variety of diseases and disorders. Some of these conditions are caused by viruses, while others are the result of bacterial infections. Still, others are brought on by exposure to irritants or allergens.

The following is a list of 21 diseases and disorders of the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. The main types of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. It is also preventable and treatable.

COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs. The most common irritants are tobacco smoke, air pollution, and dust. People with COPD are at an increased risk of developing other respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. They are also at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

COPD can be diagnosed through a physical exam, tests of lung function, and imaging tests. The most common symptom of COPD is shortness of breath. Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness.

This disease is serious and could lead to disability and death. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for managing the disease and preventing its progression. There is no cure for COPD, but treatments can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

2. Allergic rhinitis

When you have allergies, your immune system overreacts to a material that it thinks is dangerous. This substance is known as an allergen. When you inhale allergens, your immune system produces a substance known as histamine. Histamine is responsible for the symptoms of an allergic response. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction that happens when your body comes into contact with an allergen, usually from the air you breathe. The most common allergens are pollen, dust, and mould.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis can include:

– Sneezing

– Runny nose

– Itchy nose

– Watery, itchy eyes (other eye conditions can also cause that)

– Itchy throat

– congestion

If you have allergic rhinitis, you may also have asthma. Asthma is a condition that causes your airways to swell and narrow, making it hard to breathe.

There is no cure for allergic rhinitis, but you can control your symptoms. You may prevent allergies by remaining indoors on pollen-filled days and utilizing an air purifier in your house. You can also ease your symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

If you have severe allergic rhinitis, you may need to see an allergist for allergy shots (immunotherapy). Immunotherapy can help your body build up a tolerance to allergens so that you have fewer and less severe symptoms.

3. Common cold

If you’re like most people, you get at least one cold each year. In the United States, adults have an average of two to three colds annually, while children have even more. A cold is caused by a virus and is contagious, which means it can be passed from person to person.

The majority of individuals recover from a cold within a week or two, although the cough and exhaustion can last for weeks. Although there are some over-the-counter drugs that might help alleviate symptoms, there is no cure for the common cold.

While a cold is generally not serious, it can be dangerous for some people, such as young children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems. If you have a cold, it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids, get rest, and avoid contact with people who are sick.

4. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a common condition that occurs when the sinuses become inflamed. The sinuses are the cavities around the nose and behind the cheekbones. The sinuses produce mucus, which drains into the nose. When the sinuses become inflamed, they can have too much mucus, and the mucus can become trapped in the sinuses and unable to drain. This can cause a buildup of pressure in the sinuses, which can be very painful.

Sinusitis is classified into two types: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is a very short-term disease that typically lasts fewer than four weeks. Chronic sinusitis is a long-term ailment that might last months or years.

Symptoms of sinusitis can include:

  • pain in the sinuses
  • headache
  • facial pressure or pain
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • reduced sense of taste or smell
  • fatigue

If you think you may have sinusitis, it is vital to see a doctor so that they can diagnose the condition and recommend the best course of treatment. Treatment for sinusitis can include:

  • decongestants
  • nasal sprays
  • antibiotics
  • surgery

5. Bronchitis

If you have bronchitis, your lungs and bronchial tubes become inflamed. Symptoms of bronchitis can include coughing up greenish or yellow mucus, chest pain, shortness of breath, and a low-grade fever. In most cases, bronchitis is caused by a virus and will resolve on its own. However, if you have bronchitis that is caused by bacteria, you will need antibiotics to clear the infection.

6. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a severe lung infection that can be fatal. Bacteria are the most prevalent cause; however, viruses, fungi, and other species can also cause it. Coughing, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fast breathing, sweating, and fever are all symptoms. Antibiotics can treat pneumonia, although it is often necessary to be hospitalized. Vaccination and basic cleanliness are two methods for preventing pneumonia.

7. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a severe infection that attacks the lungs and can be fatal. It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease is spread through the air when someone with TB coughs or sneezes.

TB is most common in developing countries, where it is a leading cause of death. However, it is also a problem in developed countries, where it is often seen in people who are homeless or have weak immune systems.

There are two types of TB: latent TB and active TB. Latent TB means that a person has the bacteria in their body, but it is not active. This person is not sick and cannot spread the infection to others. Active TB means that the bacteria are active and the person is sick. This person can spread the disease to others.

TB can be treated with antibiotics. It is crucial to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if you start to feel better. If you stop taking the antibiotics too soon, the infection can come back, and it will be harder to treat.

TB is a serious infection, but it can be cured. If you think you may have TB, see a doctor right away.

8. Influenza

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a virus that infects the respiratory system. The flu is highly contagious and typically Spreads through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs or through contact with contaminated surfaces. The flu can cause severe illness, especially in young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.

Most people with the flu will recover within a week, but some people may develop complications, such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Influenza can be prevented with vaccination. The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year.

If you do get the flu, there are some things you can do to help relieve your symptoms:

• Get plenty of rest

• Drink lots of fluids

• Take over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve pain and fever

• Stay away from others as much as possible to avoid spreading the virus

9. Adenovirus infection

Adenovirus infection is a viral infection that can cause a number of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia. The virus is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood, from an infected person. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, door handles, or countertops.

Adenovirus infection is most common in children, but adults can also be infected. The virus is more likely to cause severe illness in young children, babies, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of adenovirus infection include fever, sore throat, cough, and runny nose. In severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia, which can be fatal.

There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infection. Most people recover on their own within a few weeks. However, people with severe respiratory illness may require hospitalization. There is no vaccine available to prevent adenovirus infection. The best way to avoid the virus is to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands often and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

10. Respiratory syncytial virus infection

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is a highly infectious virus that attacks the lungs and respiratory passages. In infants under the age of one year, it is the primary cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the tiny airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (lung infection). RSV outbreaks are more common throughout the winter months.

Most people with RSV will have a mild cold-like illness, with symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffy nose, cough, and fever. However, some people, particularly infants, young children, and people with certain underlying medical conditions, can develop more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.

RSV is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood, from an infected person. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as doorknobs, toys, or countertops. Once someone is infected with RSV, the virus can live on surfaces for several hours.

There is no specific treatment for RSV, and there is no vaccine to prevent it. The best way to prevent RSV infection is to practice good hand hygiene and to avoid close contact with people who are sick.

11. Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes fever and a distinctive rash. Measles is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It is most commonly spread to young children who are not vaccinated.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. A few days after these symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. The rash starts as flat, red spots that appear on the face and then spread down the neck, back, and arms. The rash eventually spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles is a serious illness and can be deadly, particularly in young children. Measles can cause severe complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Measles can also cause pregnant women to miscarry or to have a baby with low birth weight.

The best way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated. The measles vaccine is very effective and safe for both children and adults.

12. Whooping cough

Whooping cough, commonly known as pertussis, is a highly infectious respiratory bacterial illness. The hallmark symptom of whooping cough is a violent, hacking cough that is frequently accompanied by a “whooping” sound while breathing in.

Whooping cough is a potentially lethal disease, especially in newborns and young children. The best method to avoid whooping cough is to be vaccinated.

13. Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that affects the nose and throat. It is most commonly seen in children under the age of five but can occur in people of any age. Early symptoms of diphtheria include a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands. If left untreated, diphtheria can progress to a severe form that can cause difficulty breathing and paralysis.

Diphtheria is a serious respiratory disease and can be prevented with vaccination.

The bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae causes diphtheria. The bacteria produce a toxin that can damage the heart, nerves, and kidneys. Diphtheria is spread through close contact with an infected person, usually through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by sharing items such as cups or towels.

Diphtheria can be prevented with vaccination. The diphtheria vaccine is usually given as part of the routine childhood immunization schedule. Booster shots are also recommended for adults who are at increased risk for the disease, such as healthcare workers.

If you think you or your child may have diphtheria, it is essential to see a doctor immediately. Diphtheria is treated with antibiotics. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. With prompt treatment, diphtheria can be cured.

14. Croup (Laryngotracheobronchitis)

Croup is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that typically affects young children. The most common symptom of croup is a harsh, barking cough. Other symptoms may include a hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

Croup is usually caused by viruses such as parainfluenza or influenza. In some cases, bacteria may also be responsible. These viruses typically spread through droplets in the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The good news is that croup is usually a mild illness that will resolve on its own within a week. However, some children may require treatment with steroids or other medications to help relieve symptoms. In rare cases, croup can be severe and lead to complications such as pneumonia.

If your child has symptoms of croup, it is important to seek medical attention. Your child’s doctor can determine the cause and recommend the best course of treatment.

15. Epiglottitis

Epiglottitis is a serious medical condition that occurs when the epiglottis, a small flap of tissue that covers the windpipe, becomes inflamed. This can happen due to a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, or from a virus, such as the flu. Epiglottitis is a medical emergency because the inflammation can cause the epiglottis to swell and block the airway. This can lead to difficulty breathing and, in some cases, death.

Symptoms of epiglottitis include a high fever, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and a muffled voice. The child may also have a fast heart rate and trouble breathing. If your child has any of these symptoms, it is vital to seek medical help immediately.

Epiglottitis is treated with antibiotics to clear the infection and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling. In some cases, your child may need to be hospitalized and treated with oxygen or intubated to help them breathe. With prompt treatment, most children make a full recovery from epiglottitis.

16. Laryngitis

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, which is the voice box. It is a prevalent condition that can be caused by a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. It can also be caused by bacterial infections, allergies, or irritants, such as smoke or harsh chemicals.

Symptoms of laryngitis include a hoarse voice, loss of voice, or a raw, sore feeling in the throat. The larynx may also be swollen and red. Laryngitis can be acute, which means it comes on suddenly and lasts for a short time, or it can be chronic, which means it lasts for a long time.

Acute laryngitis is usually not a serious condition and will often go away on its own. However, chronic laryngitis can be more serious and may require medical treatment.

If you have laryngitis, there are a few things you can do to help ease your symptoms. Rest your voice as much as possible. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and herbal tea, to keep your throat moist. Gargle with warm salt water to help soothe your throat. And avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

If your symptoms do not improve after a week or if you develop a fever, see your doctor. He or she may prescribe medication, such as antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection or steroids to reduce inflammation. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove polyps or other growths from the larynx.

17. Tracheitis

Tracheitis is an infection of the trachea, often known as the windpipe. It is an uncommon disorder that mainly affects young children. The trachea is the tube that connects the nose and mouth to the lungs. The trachea is lined with a thin layer of tissue called the mucosa. This tissue can become inflamed and swollen due to infection.

Symptoms of tracheitis include a cough, trouble breathing, and a high fever. The cough is usually worse at night. In some cases, the child may also develop a wheeze. The fever is usually over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. In severe cases, the child may also have trouble swallowing, and the trachea may make a crackling sound when the child breathes.

Tracheitis is most often caused by a virus, such as influenza or adenovirus. It can also be caused by bacteria, such as streptococcus or mycoplasma. In rare cases, it may be caused by an allergy or irritant.

Treatment for tracheitis usually involves rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In severe cases, the child may be hospitalized and given oxygen. Antibiotics are not typically used to treat tracheitis, as they are not effective against viruses.

If your child has symptoms of tracheitis, contact your doctor.

18. Tracheomalacia

Tracheomalacia is a condition in which the trachea (windpipe) is softer than usual and collapses more easily than it should. This can cause difficulty breathing, particularly when lying down.

Tracheomalacia is most common in infants and young children but can also occur in adults. It is often seen in people with other conditions that affect the structure of the chest, such as scoliosis or kyphosis.

There are two types of tracheomalacia: congenital and acquired. Congenital tracheomalacia is present at birth, while acquired tracheomalacia develops later in life.

The most common symptom of tracheomalacia is noisy breathing (stridor). Stridor is a high-pitched sound that is produced when air flows through a narrow opening. It can be heard when a person is breathing in (inspiratory stridor) or out (expiratory stridor).

Other symptoms of tracheomalacia include:

• Wheezing

• Coughing

• Shortness of breath

• Difficulty feeding

• Apnea (periods of time when breathing stops)

Congenital tracheomalacia is often mild and does not require treatment. In some cases, however, it can be more severe and may require surgery to correct the problem.

Acquired tracheomalacia is usually the result of another condition, such as a tumour, infection, or injury. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

If you or your child has symptoms of tracheomalacia, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. Tracheomalacia can be a serious condition, but it is often treatable.

19. Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung condition in which the airways become damaged and widened. This can lead to a buildup of mucus and infection. Bronchiectasis can be caused by some things, including infections, autoimmune diseases, and genetic conditions. Treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics, airway clearance, and lifestyle changes.

If you have bronchiectasis, it’s important to work with your healthcare team to create a treatment plan that works for you. Treatment can help improve your symptoms and may even help prevent the progression of bronchiectasis. While there is no cure for bronchiectasis, therapy can help you manage your condition and improve your quality of life.

20. Pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema refers to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty breathing, as the fluid makes it harder for oxygen to reach the blood. Pulmonary edema can be caused by a variety of conditions, including heart failure, lung injury, and high altitude.

Treatment typically involves using oxygen and diuretics to remove the fluid. In severe cases, mechanical ventilation may be necessary.

21. Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe and life-threatening condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs of the lungs. This can make it difficult for the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and can lead to respiratory failure.

ARDS can be caused by several different conditions, including pneumonia, sepsis, and trauma. Treatment for ARDS typically involves mechanical ventilation and supportive care. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, as ARDS can rapidly progress and lead to death.

Ogden Pharmacy in Calgary can work with your family doctor to provide you with all your prescriptions that are related to any respiratory or minor ailments.

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