Respiratory Problems

Due to the increased amount of people presenting to the clinic recently from  respiratory problems, I thought it pertinent to address the subject at this time.  There are many reasons why a person develops upper respiratory problems. This can include environmental and food allergies, the common cold, flu, sore throat, post nasal drainage, sinusitis, poor air quality, tobacco use, weather fluctuations in temperature and humidity, poor diet and poor health causing immune system weakness and many other distressing conditions. Any and all of these conditions can bring about the symptoms we all experience as sneezing, coughing, post nasal drip, sore throat, head fullness and headache, tooth pain, eye irritation, fever, chills, ears clogging, body aches and many other symptoms etc.  The specific cause of the underlying problem will determine the exact symptoms and the cure or relief.

The common denominator in all of these above mentioned conditions is activation of the inflammatory response of the immune system in the respiratory tract which results in the troubling symptoms that people present with to our office. Inflammation is a process where the body responds to an irritant by the tissues and specialized cells reactively produce substances that cause a cascade (step by step) effect that liberates chemicals and other more specialized cells that are programmed to respond to certain conditions or certain irritants, be they microorganisms or a chemical or physical irritant. This response can cause localized and sometimes generalized symptoms.  Inflammation results in swelling, redness, heat, pain and loss of function in the area affected or systemically.  These amazing cells have as their purpose to fight the injurious stimuli and to protect the body.

When an agent such as pollen, virus, bacteria or other offending chemical enters the body, certain protective mechanisms are called into action. Various tissues release chemicals that signal other cells to come do their jobs and join in on the fight. Some tissues have an increased blood flow, membranes become more permeable causing swelling, other chemicals attract cells to the area that act like little “Pac-men” type creatures that attack and eat the viruses and bacteria or immobilize the offending creatures or allergens all trying to rid the body of the culprits. Some cells try to wall off the offending agent to keep it held in check. Others break them down by other means. Without the inflammatory response healing would not take place.
The respiratory tract loosely includes the nose, mouth and throat, sinuses, eustacian tubes and their connections to the ears, larynx, tonsils, and other structures and such as the lungs. All of these structures have the ability to become involved in this inflammatory process and do depending on the cause. Certain pathogens such as viruses and bacteria have a preference for certain areas and tend to affect those areas.

The respiratory tract loosely includes the nose, mouth and throat, sinuses, eustacian tubes and their connections to the ears, larynx, tonsils, and other structures and such as the lungs. All of these structures have the ability to become involved in this inflammatory process and do depending on the cause. Certain pathogens such as viruses and bacteria have a preference for certain areas and tend to affect those areas.

When aggravated by an irritant such as pollen, bacteria or viruses etc., the tracts inner lining cells produce fluids and mucus and other substances and cells in an attempt to rid the body of the offending agents. The hair cells lining respiratory tract act like a conveyor belt trying to propel any unwanted particles caught in the mucus from the tract so it can be coughed, sneezed, swallowed or spat out of the system. Sometimes this mucus is too thick and gets lodged in certain areas such as the sinuses. The sinuses are basically holes or cavities in the skull to lessen the weight of the skull rather than being solid bone and perform other functions. The upper respiratory tract is lined with squamous type cells that house the mucus forming abilities and the hair cells on their inner surface to help move the fluids along the path and out of the body. If a person smokes or is in a noxious chemical environment sometimes these cells can actually change to another form of cells thus decreasing the abilities of the cells and potentially causing other problems in the system.

The treatment for the inflammation is predicated on the cause. One must figure out what type of offending agent is involved then address that with medications, supplements and specific treatments in addition to strengthening the body.

If there is one sick person in a crowded room and he or she is sick, some of the other persons in the room may get sick and but many may not. Some of this depends on exposure but also much of it depends on the strength of their immune systems.  The person with the stronger properly functioning immune system will be less likely to be affected, whereas the person with the relative weaker immune system is more likely to be affected. The healthier a person is, usually the stronger their immune response. If you take care of yourself, with regular exercise, clean water, good nutrition, good genetics (no choice here), good mental frame of mind, proper health care, avoidance of health risk factors, immunizations, and generally practice a preventive type of lifestyle you will less likely become sick. Whatever the cause of the respiratory problem, we can help.

If you are having a problem, call us and we will get you in immediately and get on the road to getting you better. Call and make an appointment at 817-274-2273