Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is caused by damage to the lungs over many years, usually from smoking.
COPD is a mix of two diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In chronic bronchitis, the airways that carry air to the lungs are inflamed and make increased amounts of mucous which can block or narrow these airways making it hard to breathe.
With emphysema the air sacs in the lung are damaged and lose their stretch. Like a damaged balloon, less air goes in and out and a feeling of shortness of breath occurs.
Key symptoms include a long-term (chronic) cough, chronic mucus (sputum) production when you cough, repeated episodes of acute bronchitis, shortness of breath that is persistent and gets worse, occurs during exercise, and worsens during respiratory infections, such as colds.
At times, your symptoms may suddenly flare up and get much worse. This is called a COPD exacerbation. An exacerbation can range from mild to life-threatening. The longer you have COPD, the more severe these flare-ups will be.
Treatments that may help manage the symptoms include:
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass. Causes include:
In some cases, lack of good nerve and muscle function in the bowel may also be a cause.
There are several things you can do to prevent constipation. Among them:
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue and multiple tender points. These tender points are located symmetrically on both sides of the body and cause pain when slight pressure is applied. While many believe this syndrome only affects women, it can also occur in men and children. More...
GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a common condition that affects from 5% to 7% of the population. The most common GERD symptom is chronic heartburn, but it's not the only symptom. If you are having heartburn more than twice a week, which is affecting your lifestyle, you may be having GERD and not just heartburn.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
If GERD is not treated it not only affects quality of life, but can lead to some serious complications. These include:
Heartburn is a feeling of burning, warmth, heat, or pain behind the breast bone. This discomfort may spread in waves upward into your throat, and you may have a sour taste in your mouth. Heartburn is sometimes called indigestion, acid regurgitation, sour stomach or reflux. It is not caused by problems with your heart, although sometimes heart problems can feel like heartburn. More...
Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. In time, it can lead to permanent liver damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
Many people do not know that they have hepatitis C until they already have some liver damage. This can take 15-20 years before it is recognized. Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus and it is spread from one person's infected blood to another person's blood. More...
High blood pressure or hypertension usually has no symptoms and thus is known as "the silent killer". For that reason, hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional on a routine visit.
While the cause of hypertension in most people remains unclear, risk factors including lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity, older age, diabetes and genetics -- can lead to hypertension.
The blood pressure reading is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The top number or systolic pressure is the force of the blood against the artery walls as it contracts. The bottom number called the diastolic pressure is the pressure of the heart at rest. For example, a blood pressure reading is written as 120/80 mm Hg, or "120 over 80".
The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC) defines hypertension as 115/75 in a person with no cardiovascular disease or risk factors. Age is a predominant factor in determining what is "normal."
Hypertension treatment usually involves making lifestyle modifications and, if necessary, drug therapy.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in certain foods, such as foods from animals, such as dairy products (milk and cheese) eggs and meat. The body needs some cholesterol in order to function properly, but the body needs only a small amount. A diet high in fat and possibly more importantly a family history of high cholesterol plays a role in the development of this condition. When too much is present, health problems such as coronary artery disease and stroke may develop.
Everyone over the age of 20 should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years. When being tested, your doctor may recommend a fasting cholesterol test. These tests show your total cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. It can also measure triglycerides.
LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease. That is why LDL cholesterol is referred to as "bad" cholesterol. The lower your LDL cholesterol number, the better it is for your health. A number less than 100 is optimal.
When it comes to HDL cholesterol -- "good" cholesterol -- the higher the number, the better it is for your health. This is because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking the "bad" cholesterol out of your blood and keeping it from building up in your arteries. A result of greater than 60 is optimal.
This can be achieved sometimes by diet and exercise alone, or by adding lipid lowering medications.
More than 82 million Americans suffer from some degree of insomnia, which is defined as routinely having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Only 32% of the population gets the recommended 8 hours of sleep/night. Lack of sleep is a risk factor for depression, alcoholism and obesity. It also costs about $45 billion/year in lost productivity, health care bills and expenses related to traffic accidents.
Insomnia can be a chronic condition or it can last just a few days (acute). Acute insomnia may not require treatment. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits, such as those listed below. If your insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, your health care provider may prescribe sleeping pills.
Treatment for chronic insomnia includes treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia.
Good Sleep Habits
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also called "irritable bowel," "irritable colon" or "spastic colon," is a common condition that affects up to 20% of Americans, the majority of whom are women. The condition most often occurs in people in their late teens to early 40s. There are three types of IBS-constipation, diarrhea and alternating between the two. More...
Low Back Pain (LBP) affects between 60-90% of the general population at sometime in their lives, and is the second most common reason people go to their health care provider. LBP is a major cause of disability and absenteeism.
Your lower back bears most of the weight and stress of your body. Back pain most often occurs from strained back muscles and ligaments, from improper or heavy lifting, or after a sudden awkward movement. Sometimes a muscle spasm can cause back pain. Often, there's an accumulation of stress with one particular event unleashing the pain. In many cases, there may not be an obvious cause.
Back injury can be prevented with proper body mechanics and core strengthening. The most common treatment for LBP is rest, cold/heat packs as well as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) which includes ibuprofen and naproxen. NSAIDs have historically been oral medications and can be the cause of stomach ulcers. Recently topical NSAIDs have been developed which would deliver the medication directly to the back and have decreased side effects. Although it may take several weeks before the pain completely disappears, you should notice some improvement within the first 72 hours of self-care. If not, see your doctor.
According to the National Headache Foundation, over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches and of these, 28 million suffer from migraines. About 20% of children and adolescents also have significant headaches. More...
Osteoarthritis (OA), also called degenerative joint disease, is one of the most common types of arthritis, affecting more than 25 million people in the United States. The disease causes the cushioning on the ends of joints, known as cartilage, to break down, allowing bones to rub against each other. This causes pain, swelling and loss of motion. This process most often affects the hands, knees, hips, feet, neck and back.
Many factors can cause OA. One may be simple "wear and tear" on the joint. People with joint injuries from exercise, repetitive activities or accidents have an increased risk of developing OA. Another cause may be obesity, resulting in OA of the knees. In some families, inherited factors play a role in a person’s risk for developing arthritis. More...
Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, is a serious condition that can result in tremendous pain with fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones such as during menopause, smoking, and some medications. There are no symptoms of this bone disease until a bone is fractured. Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis include calcium and vitamin D, regular exercise, and osteoporosis medications, if needed.
To help prevent osteoporosis:
Osteoporosis drugs can help maintain or build bone for women at high risk of developing osteoporosis or bone fractures. More...
Overactive bladder (OAB) affects about one in six adults over age 40, causing symptoms such as an urgent need to empty the bladder, more frequent urination during the day and night, and incontinence. It’s a frustrating, embarrassing problem having accidental urine leakage. Although it may be more common as a person ages, urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging. Having an overactive bladder makes it more difficult to perform daily activities, yet many people don't consider the problem a valid medical condition.
Researchers found three-fourths of people with overactive bladders said the condition interfered with daily activities. But less than half of them would consider seeing a doctor about the problem or consider an overactive bladder a valid medical condition. The study also showed that an overactive bladder can take a toll on people's emotional health, with about one-third with the condition noting that it made them feel depressed or stressed. More...
If you are overweight, you are more likely to develop health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, gout (joint pain caused by excess uric acid), and gallbladder disease. Being overweight can also cause problems such as sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep) and osteoarthritis (wearing away of the joints).
You can use a measurement called a body mass index, or BMI, to decide whether your weight is dangerous to your health. The BMI is a statistical measure of a person’s weight scaled according to height of your height and weight. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, your extra weight is putting your health in danger. To calculate your BMI visit http://www.weight.addr.com/yourBMI.html.
Weight loss can help improve the harmful effects of being overweight. However, many overweight people have difficulty reaching their healthy body weight. Studies show that you can improve your health by losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds.
There is no quick fix to being overweight. It is hard to change habits. You have to be ready. Make sure this is the right time for you. Studies show that people who keep track of what they eat are better at losing weight. Keep a notebook where you can write down everything you eat and drink each day. You may be surprised to see how much you are eating. As you keep track of calories, look at whether you skip meals, when you eat, how often you eat out, and how many fruits and vegetables you eat. This will help you see patterns that you may want to change.
You may also want to write down the amount of physical activity you've had each day and compare the calories you burned to those you took in.
When you stray from your plan, do not get upset. Figure out what got you off track and how you can fix it. Focus on your determination to make a lifestyle change, not your momentary lapse with an irresistible food item. More...
CMR's website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please see this additional information.