Maintaining health and fitness is tough and usually it is our body that takes the strain. However, if you think that is tough try being a pair of lungs. Toned thighs and abs get respect but the lungs don't get treated with respect. The lungs fuel each and every breath we take and it seems we take them for granted. Following some basic healthy habits you can have fit and healthy lungs with incredible capacity throughout your life. The main priority is to try and avoid smoke and air pollution, and now that smoking is no longer allowed in public places, this has become easier
Asthma's main characteristics are chronic swelling and narrowing of the bronchi. However, despite improved air quality the number of asthma cases is still on the rise. Most people's asthma is caused by allergies - dust being the main one.
Anyone who suffers from asthma will frequently cough, and this is usually worse at night time, during exercise and even when laughing. An asthma sufferer will sometimes have trouble breathing and may experience a tightness in the chest as well as wheezing.
If you have any of these symptoms you should see your GP immediately. He will prescribe appropriate medication which could include inhalers.
Bronchitis is the result of an infection. This infection causes the lining of the bronchial tubes to become inflamed which results in mucus production and airway obstruction. Usually acute bronchitis is caused by viruses but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause this condition. Bronchitis can last for up to 10 days but the cough may persist. If this lingers past 10 days consult your GP to check it is not pneumonia. If you are a smoker or suffer from asthma it is more than likely that you will have acute bronchitis symptoms.
Anyone who suffers from bronchitis will have a deep cough which could lead to you producing clear or yellow mucus. This will be accompanied by wheezing, fever and chest tightness and pain.
If you suffer these symptoms see your GP immediately as you may need antibiotics. Take plenty of rest, fluids, vitamin C and zinc.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people are under the illusion that it only affects the elderly - WRONG! In the USA it is the third biggest killer behind heart disease and cancer. COPD usually affects smokers but around 10 - 20% of COPD sufferers are non smokers. Other factors that contribute to COPD include poor air quality and family history.
Anyone who is a sufferer of COPD will have a constant cough and this often produces lots of mucus. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and wheezing.
If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if you are a smoker then you should go and see your GP immediately. Your GP will conduct a screening test, the same as the one for asthma sufferers as well as a full physical exam. If you do have COPD the single most important thing you can do is to stop smoking.
If you suffer from any of the above respiratory conditions we would love to hear how you deal with the condition. Please post in the comments below.