Category: COPD

Delirium and Dementia May Be Pneumonia Symptoms in Older Adults

Posted on 19 February, 2015  in COPD

Confusion and disorientation in senior citizens may not always be Alzheimer’s disease. Research links temporary mental ailments like delirium and dementia to common underlying infections, most likely pneumonia. An antibiotic like Levaquin (Levofloxacin) that fights bacterial infections can help you recover from both conditions. Access this pharmacy’s contact information and hours with one easy click.

How Infections Affect Brain Functions

Delirium and Dementia May Be Pneumonia Symptoms in Older AdultsA study associated exposure to common infections with brain function declines and worsening memory — even when subjects didn’t become sick or exhibit symptoms. It linked deteriorating cognitive performance to antibody levels including those that contribute to lung inflammation and pneumonia. This lung condition may affect reasoning and planning abilities, mental processing speed, abstract thinking, and recall.

Serious downgrades in mental abilities that interfere with your daily life constitute dementia. Infections can trigger signs like diminished awareness, misperceptions, and short-term memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Association classifies dementia as significant impairments in two or more of these functions:

  • Memory
  • Language and communication
  • Abilities to pay attention and focus
  • Judgment and reasoning
  • Visual perceptions

As baby boomers become more elderly, pneumonia-induced dementia surfaces more often. Carlos Barrera, M.D., reports that America’s over-65 population is larger than ever, and it will continue growing over several years before it begins to decline. If you or a relative experiences drastic mental or behavioral changes, don’t wait to see what other symptoms develop. Barrera advises consulting a doctor right away.

Pneumonia Causes and Symptoms

Breathing bacterial or viral germs causes the lung inflammation of pneumonia usually. Pus or liquid fills your air sacs. This lowers your lungs’ ability to transfer much-needed oxygen to your blood properly. Pneumonia may follow the flu or a cold, which lowers your lungs’ ability to fight off infections. Long-term and chronic diseases like asthma, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes also make you more susceptible to this lung infection.

Cognitive status changes including delirium, confusion, and dementia are major pneumonia signs among seniors. You may not have typical symptoms that signal pneumonia or upper respiratory infections, notes Barrera. Minimal signs might include a slight fever. Other additional warning signs that may or may not occur include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough that may produce sputum
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sweating
  • Chills that cause shaking
  • High fever
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Purplish or dusty skin from insufficient oxygen
  • Cool, clammy skin

Viral and bacterial pneumonia symptoms are similar. Signs caused by viruses might come on gradually, be more subtle, and produce reduced illness.

Diagnosis and Recovery

Diagnosis and RecoveryAny severe and sudden mental function changes necessitate a doctor’s visit. Pinpointing the cause enables your physician to prescribe the most effective pneumonia treatment. Chest X-rays and CT scans can detect excess liquid in your lungs. A mucus test can establish if your pneumonia is bacterial. But bloodwork might not confirm a pneumonia diagnosis because white blood cell counts that indicate infections don’t always increase by much.

You can be very sick with this bacterial infection, but most people can take antibiotics at home and recover in two or three weeks. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions exactly. Experts advise seeking immediate medical care if you start feeling worse. Also contact your doctor’s office if your symptoms don’t start diminishing after two or three days on antibiotics. But don’t stop your medication when you feel better. A full course of treatment is necessary to recover.

Pneumonia doesn’t cause serious complications among healthy patients under 65 usually. But if you’re older, have other acute diseases, bad symptoms, or a weakened immune system, you can become seriously ill and require hospitalization.

Doctors don’t treat viral pneumonia with antibiotics. You just have to let your illness run its course. Some patients take antibiotics to ward off complications. To promote comfort and healing during both bacterial and viral pneumonia recovery periods, drink ample liquids, get lots of sleep and rest, and don’t smoke.

Infection Prevention

Risk factors for pneumonia include:

  • Age extremes including 1-year-olds and seniors over 65
  • Smoking
  • Having the flu or a cold
  • Weakened immune system from cancer treatment, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or additional diseases
  • Surgery
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Long-term lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Ongoing illnesses including lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes

Experts recommend pneumococcal immunizations for children, adults, and people who are 65 and up, smoke, or have long-lasting health conditions. It might not stop you from contracting pneumonia, but you’ll probably be less sick if it develops. Annual influenza vaccines also are important because pneumonia can develop after a flu bout. Visit your doctor for any cough that worsens after three to four days. Seek immediate medical care if you’re coughing up odd-colored and foul-smelling phlegm, or blood.

Reduce your odds of coming down with pneumonia by avoiding people with colds, flu, chickenpox, and measles. If you catch any of those illnesses, you could get pneumonia afterward. Washing your hands thoroughly and often will help prevent bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia from spreading. Also eat ample vegetables and fruits, be physically fit, and sleep enough to strengthen your immune system to fight off infections.

How to Keep Your “Quit Smoking” Resolution This New Year

Posted on 10 January, 2015  in COPD

How to Keep Your “Quit Smoking” Resolution This New YearAccording to the CDC, 42.1 million Americans smoke tobacco, and 16 million Americans have some kind of smoking-related disease. Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in America, killing 480,000 people a year. But it’s not all doom and gloom; the CDC also estimates that almost 50 million Americans are former smokers — people who have successfully quit.

So if quitting smoking is your New Year’s resolution this year, you’re in good company. If you smoke, quitting is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which are carcinogenic. Smoking causes 90 percent of all lung cancers and 80 percent of all cases of COPD, but it’s harmful to every part of the body, not just the lungs.

To successfully quit, start by making a quitting-smoking plan. List the reasons you want to quit smoking. Get support from others. Above all, be patient, and don’t give up. If you slip up and smoke a cigarette, that’s no reason to buy a whole pack.

Make a Plan of Action

Making a quitting plan can mentally prepare you for your quit date, but it also helps to have procedures in place to deal with cravings and smoking triggers in advance. Choose a specific date on which to quit smoking altogether; you may or may not choose to taper off prior to that date, but having a “cold turkey” quit date is best since it removes the temptation to continue smoking indefinitely.

Other elements of your plan should include:

  • Writing down your smoking triggers — the people, places, and things that make you want to smoke
  • Listing things you will do to distract yourself when triggers and cravings arise
  • Finding support from others, either in real life or online
  • Making an inventory of all your smoking supplies, so you can throw them away on your quit date
  • Developing a system of rewards that you will give yourself after a day, a week, a month, and a year of not smoking

If you want to use medication or over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy, you can include this in your plan too. Counseling may also be helpful — if you’re in the U.S., you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free telephone counseling. If you’ve tried to quit unsuccessfully in the past, think about what worked then and what didn’t, and alter your plan accordingly.

List Your Reasons to Quit Smoking

Most people have similar reasons for wanting to quit smoking. They may want to stop exposing their children and loved ones to secondhand smoke, save money, and improve their health. If you’re already taking a medication like Advair for COPD, your goal may be to avoid further damage to your health.

If you don’t already have health problems from smoking, it can be difficult to truly understand that smoking is capable of cutting people down in the prime of their lives. Visit a site like WhyQuit.com to learn about smokers who succumbed to smoking-related illness while still young, and gain a deeper understanding of the true health risks of smoking.

Write down the list of reasons why you want to quit smoking, and carry it with you. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, take out your list for a reminder of why quitting is important to you.

Learn to Resist CravingsLearn to Resist Cravings

Anyone who’s ever beaten an addiction has had to learn to resist urges to use and cravings for the substance of choice. While cigarette cravings can be very powerful, they rarely last very long — usually only about three to five minutes.

Instead of fighting your cravings, learn to let them run their course through a technique known as urge surfing. Be patient; the physical symptoms of nicotine addiction last only a few days, and with time, even the psychological cravings will disappear altogether.

Get Support

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things a person can do, so it’s vital to get the support of others. Encourage your family and close friends to support your efforts and encourage your victories, no matter how small. Post about your progress on social media — the support of your virtual network can help keep you accountable.

Don’t be surprised if other smokers in your life aren’t as supportive as you’d like them to be. Your efforts to quit may remind them of their failure to do the same. Maybe they just don’t want to quit and don’t see why you should. It’s normal for people to resist change in those closest to them, because they fear they’ll have to change, too. If this happens to you, let your loved ones know that your quitting is about you, not them. If your loved ones can’t support you, ask them to at least not actively discourage you.

Don’t Give Up

Most smokers don’t manage the quit the first time they try — or even the second, third, fourth, or fifth time. It’s also perfectly normal to give in to cravings and smoke a cigarette even if you haven’t smoked for days or weeks. If that happens to you, don’t be discouraged — one mistake doesn’t make you a failure. Renew your resolve to quit and start over.

“Quit smoking” is a popular New Year’s resolution, and for good reason. If you’re trying to quit smoking this New Year, remember that there are more former smokers in this country than there are current smokers. If almost 50 million other Americans can quit smoking, you can do it, too.

Non-Smoker? You May Still Be at Risk for COPD

Posted on 4 January, 2015  in COPD

Non-Smoker? You May Still Be at Risk for COPDSmoking is a major risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, but it’s not the only one. About 90 percent of the people who develop this condition do so after years of cigarette smoking, but the other 10 percent develop it due to factors like genetics or occupational exposure to fumes, chemicals, or dust that damages the lungs.

New research suggests that obesity can be a major risk factor for COPD, too, even among people who have never smoked. If you’re obese, you can reduce your risk of COPD by exercising regularly, whether you lose weight or not.

Inhaled Irritants of All Kinds Cause COPD

COPD is usually caused by either emphysema or chronic bronchitis, and it’s progressive. According to the American Lung Association, it’s the third biggest killer of Americans — 134,676 people died of the disease in 2010. More than 12 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD, but twice that many show evidence of reduced lung function that could indicate COPD.

Most people who get COPD smoke tobacco or marijuana, but exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase your risk. People who have asthma and also smoke are at an even higher risk of developing COPD. In the developing world, people get COPD thanks to years of breathing fumes and smoke from cooking and heating fuel. Inhaled irritants like air pollution, dust, smoke, or chemical vapors can also cause COPD, especially if these irritants are inhaled regularly for years.

Genetics Can Lead to COPD

Around one in 2,500 Americans have a condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is a hereditary disorder that causes low blood levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin, a protein that’s secreted by the liver and helps the lungs maintain their elasticity. Without it, the lungs lose their ability to deflate, so that stale air remains in the lungs and the person can’t inhale a fresh breath of air. Alpha-1 deficiency can also cause substantial damage to lung tissue. It’s responsible for liver disease in some cases, since it causes the liver to retain alpha-1 antitrypsin instead of secreting it.

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can be treated by administering a synthetic version of the protein. However, treatment only slows the progression of the disease; it doesn’t undo damage already done to the lungs at the time of diagnosis.

Obesity Can Cause COPD

Obesity can increase your risk of many diseases, and according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, COPD is one of them. Researchers at the University of Regensburg in Germany found a link between a high BMI and obesity, but abdominal fat was found to be of particular concern.

The researchers examined 113,279 men and women aged 50 to 70 who did not suffer from cancer, heart disease, or COPD when the study began. Ten years later, they followed up with the study participants and found that 3,648 of them had developed COPD. The strongest relationship between COPD and obesity seemed to exist in those participants with larger abdomens. The researchers found that women with a waist at least 43.3 inches in diameter and men with a waist at least 46.4 inches in diameter were 72 percent more likely to need medications like Advair for COPD.

Obesity Can Cause COPDHowever, overall body fat didn’t seem to correlate with increased COPD risk; those whose body fat was more evenly distributed did not demonstrate the same high level of increased risk. Study participants with large hips, who exercised at least five days a week, were found to have a lower risk of developing COPD than their large-bellied counterparts – 29 percent lower, to be exact. The researchers believe that’s because exercise fights inflammation, a key factor in causing COPD.

While obesity may increase your risk of developing COPD even if you’ve never smoked, being underweight will raise your risk of dying from the disease. A 2011 study presented to the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress found that COPD patients who are underweight, with a BMI of less than 18.5, were 1.7 times more likely to die of their disease than COPD patients of normal weight. In fact, while weighing too much can cause serious health problems, underweight people run the highest risk of death from any cause.

If you’ve never smoked, you may think you’re safe from COPD, but you could be wrong. While it’s true that the vast majority of people who develop this respiratory condition do so as a result of cigarette smoking, there is a small but significant minority who develop it due to other factors. One of these factors is obesity. New research has found that having a large abdomen, in particular, can make your risk of COPD skyrocket. But it’s not all bad news — exercising regularly can help your body fight inflammation, to lower your COPD risk and help you keep your lungs healthy.