Salt Therapy for Respiratory Disorders

The main areas covered here are:

 

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease. People who have asthma suffer from inflamed airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the smooth muscle cells in the bronchial tubes constrict, the airway tubes become inflamed, swollen and very sensitive and tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances.

When the airways react, the muscles around them tighten. This narrows the airways, causing less air to flow into the lungs. The swelling can worsen, making the airways even narrower. Cells in the airways may make more mucus than normal. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow your airways. 

This chain reaction can result in asthma symptoms where breathing is difficult and symptoms usually displayed include night-time coughing, shortness of breath with exertion, a chronic ‘throat-clearing’ type cough, and complaints of a tight feeling in the chest.

Symptoms can happen each time the airways are inflamed. 

Sometimes, asthma symptoms are mild and go away on their own or after minimal treatment with an asthma medicine. Other times, symptoms continue to get worse. 

When symptoms get more intense and/or more symptoms occur, you're having an asthma attack. Asthma attacks also are called flare-ups or exacerbations.

It's important to treat symptoms when you first notice them. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing a severe asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal.

You can take an active role in managing your asthma. For successful, thorough, and ongoing treatment, build strong partnerships with your doctor, health care providers and our respiratory nurse at Salt Therapy Ireland.

Outlook

Asthma can't be cured. Even when you feel fine, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any time.

However, with today's knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms. They can live normal, active lives and sleep through the night without interruption from asthma.

Key Points

  • Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways and makes them more reactive to certain inhaled substances. The exact cause of asthma isn't known. 
  • Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood. 
  • Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. 
  • Sometimes symptoms are mild and go away on their own or after minimal treatment. Other times, the symptoms continue to get worse. When symptoms get more intense and/or more symptoms occur, you're having an asthma attack. 
  • It's important to treat asthma symptoms when you first notice them. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing a severe attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal. 
  • Your doctor will diagnose asthma based on your medical history, a physical exam, and test results. Asthma is hard to diagnose in children younger than 5 years old. 
  • There's no cure for asthma. Asthma is a long-term disease that requires long-term care. Successful asthma treatment requires you to take an active role in your care. Learn how to manage your asthma, get ongoing care, and watch for signs that your asthma is getting worse. 
  • The goal of asthma treatment is to control the disease by following the asthma action plan you create with your doctor and Salt Therapy respiratory nurse, taking asthma medicines as prescribed, learning what things make your asthma worse (asthma triggers) and taking steps to avoid them, tracking your level of asthma control, and responding quickly to worsening symptoms. 
  • One asthma trigger you should not avoid is physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Talk with your doctor about medicines that can help you stay active. 
  • Asthma is treated with two types of medicines: long-term control medicines and quick-relief medicines. You use a device called an inhaler to take many of these medicines. This device allows the medicine to go directly to your lungs. 
  • The amounts and types of medicine you need to treat your asthma depend on how well controlled your asthma is when you're closely following your asthma action plan. Your medicines may need to be adjusted over time. 
  • Track your asthma by recording your symptoms, using a peak flow meter, and getting regular asthma checkups. Let your doctor know if your asthma is getting worse. If you have trouble walking or talking because you're out of breath, or if you have blue lips or fingernails, call 911 for emergency care. 
  • Most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms and can live normal, active lives.

How Can Salt Room Therapy Help?

Halotherapy is a drug-free, natural treatment that eases coughing, congestion, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms associated with these conditions. When you sit in the salt room, the controlled temperature, humidity and concentration of salt particles provides the optimal environment for healing. The mineral salt particles you inhale accelerate mucous clearance, purify the lungs, and reduce bronchial inflammation. Salt room therapy is often used as a preventative measure to combat the recurrence of asthma attacks. Inhaling the salt micro particles widens your airways and promotes healing in the bronchial tubes. Your breathing will improve and you will notice a difference.

Back to the top

 

Hay Fever & Allergies

Hay fever, like all allergic reactions, is caused by allergens, foreign "invaders" that enter your body by inhalation, by swallowing, or through your skin.

  • In hay fever, the allergens are airborne substances that enter your airways (mouth, nose, throat, and lungs) via your breathing and the linings of your eyes and sometimes ears via direct contact. 
  • Most of the time it is difficult to identify a specific allergen.
  • Once these allergens come in contact with your airway, the white blood cells of your immune system produce antibodies to the offending substance. This overreaction to a harmless substance is often called a hypersensitivity reaction.
    • The antibody, called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, is stored on special cells called mast cells. 
    • When the antibody comes in contact with the corresponding antigen, they promote release of chemicals and hormones called "mediators." Histamine is an example of a mediator.
    • It is the effects of these mediators on organs and other cells that cause the symptoms of the allergic reaction, in this case hay fever.
  • The most common allergens in hay fever are pollens.
    • Pollen is small particles released by flowering plants. 
    • It is moved around by wind to other plants of the same species, which it fertilises so that the plant can bloom again. 
    • Pollens from certain types of trees, grasses, and weeds (such as ragweed) are most likely to cause reactions. Pollens from other types of plants are less allergenic. 
    • The time of year when a particular species of plant releases pollen, or "pollinates," depends on the local climate and what it normal for that species. 
    * Some species pollinate in the spring and others in the late summer and early fall.
    * Generally, the farther north a plant is, the later in the season it pollinates.
    • Variations in temperature and rainfall from year to year affect how much pollen is in the air in any given season.
  • The other common allergens in hay fever are moulds.
    • Moulds are a type of fungus that has no stems, roots, or leaves. 
    • Mould spores float through the air like pollen until they find a hospitable environment to grow. 
    • Unlike pollen, however, moulds do not have a season. They are present throughout the year in most of the United States. 
    • Moulds grow both outdoors and indoors. 
    * Outdoors, they thrive in soil, vegetation, and rotting wood. 
    * Indoors, moulds (usually called mildew) live in places where air does not circulate freely, such as attics and basements, moist places such as bathrooms, and places where foods are stored, prepared, or discarded. 
  •   The amounts of pollen and moulds in the air are measured daily in many areas around Ireland.
    • The pollen and mould counts at which people develop allergic symptoms vary quite a lot by individual. 
    • Pollen and mould counts are not very helpful in predicting how a specific person will react.
  • Risk factors for hay fever
    • Family members with hay fever
    • Repeated exposure to the allergen 
    • Other allergic conditions such as eczema or asthma 
    • Nasal polyps (small noncancerous growths in the lining of the nose)
  •  The allergens that cause symptoms in an individual as he or she ages. Symptoms decrease in some allergy sufferers, but not all, as they grow older.
  •  Bodily changes of pregnancy may make hay fever worse.

Back to the top

 

Bronchitis

The bronchial tubes, or bronchi, connect the windpipe to the lungs. When the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed or infected, the condition is called bronchitis. Bronchitis reduces the amount of air and oxygen that can flow into the lungs and causes a heavy mucus or phlegm to form in the airways.

Bronchitis is considered to be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is a shorter illness that commonly develops after a cold or viral infection such as the flu. It generally consists of a cough with green sputum, chest discomfort or soreness, fever, and sometimes shortness of breath. Acute bronchitis usually lasts a few days or weeks. 

Chronic bronchitis is characterised by a persistent, mucus-producing cough on most days of the month, three months of a year for two successive years in absence of a secondary cause of the cough. People with chronic bronchitis have varying degrees of breathing difficulties, and symptoms may get better and worsen during different parts of the year.

What causes bronchitis?

Bronchitis is caused by viruses, bacteria, and other particles that irritate the bronchial tubes. 

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection in the bronchi - often the same viruses that causes cold and flu. Bronchitis is actually part of the immune response to fighting against the infection, since additional swelling occurs in the bronchial tubes as the immune system's actions generate mucus. In addition to viruses, bacteria, exposure to tobacco smoke, exposure to pollutants or solvents, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause acute bronchitis. 

Chronic bronchitis is most commonly caused by cigarette smoking. However, it can also be the result of continuous attacks of acute bronchitis. Air pollution, dust, toxic gases, and other industrial fumes are known to be responsible for the condition.

Who gets bronchitis?

People at increased risk of getting bronchitis and increased risk of having more severe symptoms include:

  • Smokers
  • People who are exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • The elderly and infants
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Those who are exposed to irritants at work, such as chemical fumes from ammonia, strong acids, chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide or bromine

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

Signs and symptoms for both acute and chronic bronchitis include:

  • Inflammation or swelling of the bronchi
  • Coughing
  • Production of clear, white, yellow, grey, or green mucus (sputum)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Blocked or runny nose

Acute bronchitis usually results in a nagging cough that lingers for several weeks even after the bronchitis resolves. Chronic bronchitis's long-term inflammation leads to scarring of the bronchial tubes and airways, which leads to production of excessive mucus. Additional symptoms of chronic bronchitis include frequent respiratory infections and a cough that is worse in the mornings and in damp weather.

Back to the top

 

Sinusitis

The sinuses are air-filled sacs in the facial bones of the head. They have several functions, including warming incoming air and helping to form certain sounds. When the sinuses become infected and inflamed, the condition is known as sinusitis. Sinusitis ranges from a minor annoyance to a serious condition that might require surgery.

The four pairs of sinuses are listed below, in order from highest frequency of infection to least:

  • Maxillary sinuses, located in the cheekbone, right below the eye sockets
  • Ethmoid sinuses, located behind the bridge of the nose
  • Frontal sinuses, located in the lower forehead, in the middle of the head just above the eye sockets
  • Sphenoid sinuses, located behind the eyes

The sinuses are lined with cells covered with small, hair-like projections called cilia, which help clear mucus from the chambers and keep them bacteria free. When the ability to clear the passageways is blocked, however, the sinuses may become infected. Sinusitis is classified by duration of illness (acute or chronic), by cause (infectious or other), and by the type of infectious agent involved (bacterial, fungal, or viral).

Even if it is not considered serious, sinusitis can have a major impact on quality of life. In rare cases, sinusitis can cause infections of the brain and other complications.

Researchers in Japan have found a link between chronic sinusitis in older people and cognitive impairment. A study of an older population found significant differences in Mini-Mental Status Examination. Examination scores between people with chronic sinusitis and those without underscore the importance of treating sinusitis infections appropriately in this age group.

Causes and Risk Factors for Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis is almost always caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Bacteria that cause sinusitis include streptococcal and staphylococcal strains, which also cause the common cold. Fungi are known to cause sinusitis, but mainly in immunocompromised people or people who are sensitive to fungi People at highest risk for sinusitis are those with allergies, asthma, or an increased immune response to fungi; smokers; or those with compromised immune systems .

Non-infectious risk factors for sinusitis include rapid changes in air pressure (e.g., when diving, flying, or high-altitude hiking) and exposure to chemical irritants. Additional risk factors for sinusitis are conditions that cause sinus obstruction, such as tumours, and conditions that alter mucus clearance, such as cystic fibrosis

Diagnosis of Sinusitis

No single test confirms a diagnosis of sinusitis. In most cases, the diagnosis will be made on the basis of symptoms, which depend on which sinus or sinuses are affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the forehead, over the area where the frontal sinuses are located
  • Upper jaw pain
  • Toothache
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Swelling of the eyelids or areas around the eyes
  • Earache
  • Neck pain
  • Tenderness on the sides of the nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Thick or coloured nasal discharge

Back to the top

 

Persistant Cough

There are people with a mysterious chronic dry cough (longer than 4 months) that seems to defy all explanation and resist all the usual standard treatments (cough and cold remedies for children). Some of these patients have coughed for more than ten years resulting in frustration not only in terms of treatment, but diagnosis. Often, patients are told their cough is due to reflux, allergy, asthma, infection, aspiration, virus, etc and undergo numerous exams and studies including pulmonary function tests, chest x-rays, reflux studies, barium swallows, upper endoscopy, CT scans, MRI scans, etc. Even all medications known to cause a cough as a side effect (ie, ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers) are removed to no avail. More often than not, all these medical studies come back normal. Furthermore, proposed treatments with antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, allergy medications, cough suppressants, steroid inhalers, etc are not successful. Surgical treatment is often performed which also fails to improve the cough. Eventually, some are even told it's all in their head (psychogenic cough, habit cough, tic cough, etc) or idiopathic.

A typical patient with persistent cough is described as follows:

  • Started during or after recovering from a viral laryngitis and/or upper respiratory infection
  • Dry cough
  • Cough occurs due to no perceivable reason...perhaps only a tickle
  • Cough may occur several times an hour to even as often as several times a minute. Must be distinguished from whooping cough (severe attacks of a choking cough that lasts 1-2 minutes often with near vomiting and appearance of suffocation.
  • Cough does not seem to get better with time (months or even years)
  • All diagnostic studies performed come back normal
  • Endoscopy of the throat and voice box is normal (this exam will be performed on the first visit to ensure that there is no anatomic reason for the cough). Such anatomic factors that may trigger a cough include an elongated uvula as well as large tonsils

If this description sounds like you, you may have chronic cough due to laryngeal sensory neuropathy. What does this mean? Essentially, this means that the nerve that provides sensation to the voice box and is responsible for triggering the cough reflex has been injured, usually by a virus. When this happens, the nerve's level of sensitivity before it triggers the cough reflex becomes markedly reduced; in other words, it becomes hyper-sensitive. This situation is akin to the elevated sensitivity of the skin producing pain even with the lightest touch after healing from a bad burn, even if the skin appears completely normal. Other related forms of such sensory neuropathy include diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, phantom limb pain, etc.

Salt Therapy can help resolve this issue through its unique healing properties.

Back to the top

 

COPD

Overview

To understand COPD, it helps to understand how the lungs work. The air that you breathe goes down your windpipe into tubes in your lungs called bronchial tubes or airways. Within the lungs, your bronchial tubes branch into thousands of smaller, thinner tubes called bronchioles. These tubes end in bunches of tiny round air sacs called alveoli (al-VEE-uhl-eye).

Small blood vessels called capillaries run through the walls of the air sacs. When air reaches the air sacs, the oxygen in the air passes through the air sac walls into the blood in the capillaries. At the same time, carbon dioxide (a waste gas) moves from the capillaries into the air sacs. This process is called gas exchange.

The airways and air sacs are elastic (stretchy). When you breathe in, each air sac fills up with air like a small balloon. When you breathe out, the air sacs deflate and the air goes out.

In COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways because of one or more of the following:

  • The airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality.
  • The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
  • The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.
  • The airways make more mucus than usual, which tends to clog them.

Figure A shows the location of the lungs and airways in the body. The inset image shows a detailed cross-section of the bronchioles and alveoli. Figure B shows lungs damaged by COPD. The inset image shows a detailed cross-section of the damaged bronchioles and alveolar walls.

In the United States, the term "COPD" includes two main conditions—emphysema (em-fi-SE-ma) and chronic bronchitis bron-KI-tis).

In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged, causing them to lose their shape and become floppy. This damage also can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer and larger air sacs instead of many tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the lungs is reduced.

In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is constantly irritated and inflamed. This causes the lining to thicken. Lots of thick mucus forms in the airways, making it hard to breathe.

Most people who have COPD have both emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis. Thus, the general term "COPD" is more accurate.

Key Points

  • COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. "Progressive" means the disease gets worse over time.
  • COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus (a slimy substance), wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.
  • Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, also may contribute to COPD. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking.)
  • In the United States, the term "COPD" includes two main conditions— emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Most people who have COPD have both conditions. Thus, the general term "COPD" is more accurate.
  • COPD is a major cause of disability, and it's the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • COPD develops slowly. Symptoms often worsen over time and can limit your ability to do routine activities. Severe COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking, or taking care of yourself.
  • Your doctor will diagnose COPD based on your signs and symptoms, your medical and family histories, and test results.
  • COPD has no cure yet. However, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.
  • Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD. Other treatments include medicines, vaccines, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and surgery. Your doctor also may recommend tips for managing complications.
  • You can take steps to prevent COPD before it starts. The best way to prevent COPD is to not start smoking or to quit smoking. Also, try to avoid other lung irritants that can contribute to COPD.
  • If you have COPD, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Quit smoking and try to avoid other lung irritants. Also, get ongoing care, manage the disease and its symptoms, and prepare for emergencies.
  • If you have COPD, you may benefit from a clinical trial. Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat various diseases and conditions. For more information about clinical trials for COPD, talk with your doctor

Back to the top

 

Smokers Cough

Smoking is associated with a wide range of ill effects to your health and those around you and Smokers cough is one such ill effect. Smokers cough is particularly seen in long term chronic smokers who are addicted to the habit for a prolonged period of time. Most new smokers usually do not develop this condition. Many consider that the onset of smokers cough is a strong indication from the human body that smoking has started to cause irreparable loss. Apart from smokers, smokers cough is also seen in people working in unhealthy environments. For example, it has been observed to appear in people who work in environments that exposes the body to lung, nasal and throat irritants.

Just like smoking, continued long term exposure to these irritants becomes harmful to health and could ultimately lead to smokers cough. The cough is broadly categorised into two, one is the dry cough and the other one is the chesty cough. The characteristic that separates these two coughs are that the chesty cough is accompanied with a lot of mucus. Both are equally painful and need to be seriously considered for further treatment.

Smoker’s Cough Symptoms

The human nose and the trachea have small tiny fibres known as cilia. Their primary function is to keep harmful irritants from entering into the human body. Long term smoking affects the functioning of these cilia and it reduces the effectiveness of the cilia thus ultimately leading to a situation where in the cilia become totally non-functional. This is one of the main smokers cough symptoms. The smokers cough problem is worse while sleeping at night as the cilia no longer remains capable of moving the phlegm to the throat where it can be swallowed to get relief. Thus, most people suffering from smokers cough suffer from phlegm in their throats especially when they wake up in the morning.

This in turn leads to the reflex action of smokers cough in the morning in order to release the phlegm stuck in the throat and thus offer relief. Thus incessant coughing is another one of the smokers cough symptoms. In addition to smokers cough, the damaged cilia also can cause various other health hazards particularly respiratory illness, which is also another smokers cough symptoms as the cilia is considered to be a strong line of defence for the body from any external germ attack. Once these defence lines are taken down, it becomes very easy for the germs to infect the body and the person becomes susceptible to practically every form of respiratory illness. Unlike the normal cough, the smokers cough lasts for a longer time and could potentially span several weeks before a relief is possible. Moreover, due to the increasing degradation in the cilia, the condition appears at very frequent intervals. In extreme cases the smokers cough symptoms include severe coughing that there have been instances wherein the patients have broken their ribs. Other smokers cough symptoms include chest pain, wheezing and crackle. Some have even reported shortness of breath causing severe breathlessness. Sometimes, smokers cough is also accompanied by diseases such as Chronic Bronchitis. This may lead to several other smokers cough symptoms like fatigue, confusionover simple things, pallor and even anxiety.

What Causes Smoker’s Cough?

The primary smokers cough cause is smoking itself though there are cases wherein people in particular environments have reported smokers cough symptoms. Thus people working or living in environments that expose them to nasal, lung or throat irritants are also one of the smokers cough causes. Many smokers are made to believe that the toxins inhaled during smoking are exhaled when the smoke leaves the body. This is not true as the body because of its inherent nature absorbs much of the toxins. Once these toxins are inside the human body, they usually start to destroy the defence mechanisms and starts reducing the immune levels. As the immune levels are lowered, the individual is directly affected by smoking but also becomes susceptible to other infections including viral and bacterial.

Back to the top