Breathlessness What is it?How and why do you get it By Dr Harold Gunatillake

Breathlessness What is it?How and why do you get it

By Dr Harold Gunatillake


Transcript: Breathlessness- is a form of unpleasant breathing, rapid or difficult breathing. Normally in healthy condition you breath comfortably without your knowing at the rate of 14 breaths per minute at rest, to provide sufficient oxygen to breath in and to breath out the carbon dioxide produced in the body through metabolic process. Few sensations are as frightening as not being able to get enough air. Doctors use the term dyspnea for intense
tightening in the chest, air hunger, difficulty breathing, breathlessness or a feeling of suffocation. Breathlessness indicates that the body needs more oxygen and energy when exerting itself. Now, what are the causes that produce shortness of breath. Common causes include asthma, a chest infection like pneumonia, a weak heart, being
overweight, smoking. It could be a panic attack. It could be something serious brewing up in your respiratory system or cardiovascular system. A common lung condition called chronic obstructive airway disease, bronchiectasis
and lung cancer must be thought of. Let’s discuss about COPD- meaning chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
If you are breathless for a long time, you could be suffering from COPD. It is a progressive disease.

To test you blow hard into a mouthpiece that is connected to a small mouthpiece that is connected to a machine called a spirometer, that measures how fast you blow air out of your lungs. The results can tell you have COPD, even if you haven’t got any symptoms yet. You may be less active, have reduced fitness and reduced muscle strength. You can improve your tolerance to exercise by daily exercise and improve your quality of life. In COPD the lung tissue can get destroyed leading to a condition called emphysema, or small airways disease leading to obstructive bronchitis. There is a disease called AAT deficiency, also known as “alpha-1” is a genetic disease primarily affecting the lungs and liver. It is characterized by a decrease in circulating levels of a protein called alpha1 antitrypsin. AAT deficiency is the major known genetic risk factor for COPD, particularly emphysema. Your environment in what you breathe everyday at work, home and outside can play a role in developing COPD. Other risk factors for COPD are exposure to tobacco, having asthma, occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals, exposure to fumes from burning fuel and genetic factors.
Substances that have been linked to COPD include Cadmium dust and fumes, grain and flour dust, silica dust, welding fumes, and coal dust. If you get a cough with lots of mucus, that does not go away could be an early sign of the disease. You could have shortness of breath when you are physically active. Look for blue fingers
present due to lack of oxygen in your blood.Later stages, if neglected you could lose weight and still later given swelling around your ankles, feet, and legs. Investigations include spirometry as mentioned earlier. CT scan, laboratory tests to determine the cause of your symptoms or rule other conditions. Medical treatment include: Bronchodilators, corticosteroids, combined inhalers to reduce air way inflammation, antibiotics. Drug called Roflumilast to stop an enzyme called PDE4. This drug prevents flare-ups in people whose COPD is linked to chronic bronchitis and lastly, oxygen therapy. Beware of household items that cause exacerbation of symptoms.
Cleaning products: some chemicals in disinfectants and cleaning supplies called volatile organic compounds.
You need to be aware- carpets, bedding, and pet dander can cause exacerbations. Let us now discuss what bronchiectasis is. This is a chronic condition where the walls of the bronchi get thickened from inflammation and infection. The common causes are pneumonia, pertussis or whooping cough, tuberculosis, and non- TB
mycobacterium. Ultimately the tubes get damaged and widened. It is a serious condition and early diagnosis, and treatment will be necessary. It can lead to respiratory failure. Antibiotics are the common treatment for bronchiectasis. This condition could be caused as a complication of COPD. Shortness of breath you could get due to congestive heart failure. It occurs when the heart muscle does not pump blood as well as it should. When that happens, blood often backs up and fluid can build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath. Doctors prescribe diuretics like Lasix to get rid of the excess fluid in the lungs. It is advisable to avoid excessive salt intake, sugar and saturated fat and eat plenty of fiber in the form of fruits, veggies, and whole grain. Bananas are good for you, because the potassium can help reduce water retention, regulate blood pressure, and improve digestion, to maintain good lung function. Coffee is good for you. One study found improved lung function in coffee consumers.Taking certain dietary supplements help, including vitamin C, D Magnesium, omega 3s, zinc and selenium. Eggs are good for you. Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in eggs can help you manage your COPD.So, viewers- breathlessness must be investigated early and remedial actions needs to be takenbefore the condition get worse.

Hope this video article was useful Stay safe and goodbye for now.


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