What Are Respiratory Disorders?
Respiratory disorders are a group of illnesses which affect your lungs. Some common examples of respiratory disorders are COPD, Asthma, and Sleep Apnea.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) is one of the most common respiratory disorders, and is usually related to smoking. Some common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD acts by causing swelling and formation of mucus in the bronchioles (the tubes in the lungs which carry the air). The primary symptoms of COPD are a chronic cough, coughing up mucus, and being short of breath. Some examples of shortness of breath are wheezing when going up stairs or exercising, or finding it difficult to breathe when doing even simple chores.
COPD can lead to a number of other conditions, such as chest infections (including pneumonia and the flu), hypertension, heart problems, osteopenia or osteoporosis, glaucoma and cataracts, malnutrition, weak muscles, and even lung cancer.
Asthma is believed to be caused by several different genetic and environmental factors. Over 250 million people have been diagnosed with asthma, globally. The primary symptoms of asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Some of the environmental causes that are suspected to cause asthma are exposure to VOCs (volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, which is found in treatments for clothes and in auto parts), phtalaties like PVC, and also common allergens like dust mites and mold. Another controversial theory surrounding asthma is the “hygiene hypothesis”, that lack of exposure to bacteria and viruses due to more effective soaps and sanitizers makes the immune system overreact when it comes into contact with relatively harmless irritants.
Apnea is when a person stops breathing temporarily. The most common form is Sleep Apnea, where the loose skin in a person’s throat interrupts their breathing. These periods of not breathing can last for a few seconds to several minutes, and can occur tens of time in an hour. The lack of oxygen to the brain caused by these interruptions can cause several associated health problems. Some of the associated risks with Sleep Apnea are cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and diabetes.
Apnea can be treated in several different ways. One of the simplest treatments for overweight apnea sufferers is to lose weight, which also presents other, related health benefits. Barring that option, many people find relief through the use of CPAP machines, which require the patient to wear a mask that pumps air while sleeping, in order to prevent the airway from collapsing. Surgery is a last resort.